Let’s Dance!

I like performing, but it’s not entirely my fault. I don’t think I had a choice, really. I’m certain it runs in the family and I was reminded of this tonight.

My Uncle Zeke, or Chris Montez as he is better known, performed a benefit concert at El Camino College tonight. If you’ve never heard of him, he is a singer/musician who began his career in the ’60s and, believe it or not, was the headlining act on a tour of England that included the Beatles. He’s also probably one of the only people in the world who can say that John Lennon once poured a beer over his head.

Growing up, my Mom always played his records and told me stories about him. I remember listening, learning all the lyrics and looking at his albums and thinking, wow, someone on an album cover is related to me. And I vaguely remember scribbling my name on a cover he had signed because I really wanted to autograph an album cover, too.

Until tonight, I had never seen him perform live. What I saw made me smile. So much energy, so personable and still technically great. What a showman. I was inspired.

Prior to his performance, they showed a preview of an upcoming documentary about his musical journey — El Viaje Musical de Ezekiel Montanez: The Chris Montez Story. It was truly something watching this; I mean, here’s this kid from Hawthorne, my uncle, who jammed with the Beach Boys, toured with the Beatles, played rock, lounge, rancheras and everything in between, and continues to tour today. And more than that, he’s a genuinely nice guy who still loves what he does as much as he did when he was a teenager. He looks so happy when he’s performing and I totally get it.

What does this mean to me? It means that I really shouldn’t hold myself back from doing the things I really love and want to do. My family is musical, even the ones who don’t perform and don’t play instruments; it’s evident in the way they speak and act. I give Uncle Zeke credit for embracing his gifts early in life, continuing to develop his craft all these years and committing to making his living this way in good times and in not-so-good times. Music is his talent, passion and subsequently, his career. I have so much respect for that.

I might never have a career as a dancer or musician, but I think I have to approach these things as if it’s possible. I need to approach the dance and whatever else like a six year old who dreams of becoming a star when she grows up. At that age, you believe anything is possible. It’s unfortunate that most of us lose that as we age. I think I need just a little more of that mentality to help me do well at the dance, you know? Like, if I approach it as a career goal instead of a hobby, I could really be motivated to kick some ass.

Thanks for the lesson, Uncle Zeke.

Visit http://www.chrismontezmovie.com for more info about the documentary.