By Angie Medina
The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture held a free outdoor acoustic show by local band, Vicky Tafoya and the Big Beat.
The band consists of Vicky Tafoya the lead singer, Matt Beld on guitar, George San Martin on saxophone, Mario Tafoya on drums and Mike Rodriguez on piano and Bryan White on bass, played at the museum’s opening ceremony in June 2022 and was invited once more to perform during Riverside’s monthly Artswalk on Oct. 5.
Unfortunately, due to conflicting schedules, the entire band could not attend. The little bump in the road did not deter singer Tafoya and Beld from showing up and showing out.
“We would have loved the whole band,” Tafoya said. “But my bass player lives in Indio and my drummer lives in Irvine.”
The band has been together for 20 years and is currently under Penrose Records. The Big Beat members have known each other for years and they are practically family. Every Tuesday most of the members commute for practice.
“Indio and Irvine are the farthest, everyone else (lives) kind of close,” Beld said. “We just find a way to navigate. Like I tell people and Vicky tells them too, ‘if you love it, you’ll find a way to make it happen,’.”
The band was started by Tafoya in 2001 with the strong support of her late husband and previous rhythm guitarist, Vince Maldonado. During the show, Tafoya took a moment to pay tribute to her late husband by dedicating the song “My vow to you” to him.
“It’s rough,” Tafoya said. “Some days I’m a mess you know but I try to remember how he was always, always, always, in a good mood and I try to embody how he would want it to be.”
Tafoya was born and raised in Santa Ana but has made Riverside her home for over 20 years now. She has been heavily involved in the community by constantly attending the Riverside Artswalk herself and even filming a music video in front of The Cheech museum.
“It was such a pleasure to play tonight,” the singer said. “It feels like things are happening here.”
Beld, who was born and raised in Riverside, agrees. He highlights the change the city has had over the years.
“It just feels like in the last 10 years this whole area has just come and up,” he said. “It’s a really cool vibe, I’m just trying to do our part for the community.”
Both performers encourage others to go out and enjoy music.
“Do it,” Tafoya said. “Even if you only think you want to, get involved. There’s all kinds of art. I’ve seen the most beautiful art in this place.”