See Johnny "Dandy" Rodriguez lead the orchestra at MOLAA this Saturday.
The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) presents a summer concert series, Remembering the Palladium Days, to honor and reminisce about the golden age of Mambo in New York. MOLAA offers an annual celebration full of dance for the public, and this year, organizer Yambu Productions aims to transport those in attendance back to the golden years at the Palladium, where greats such as Tito Puente and Celia Cruz made their mark.
Amongst those who also made their mark back then was Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez, who dating back to the 1950s was part of Tito Puente’s orchestra until his passing. Rodriguez leads the orchestra for Remembering the Palladium Days, Chapter 3: Mambo is Back and It is Here to Stay! at MOLAA on Saturday, July 18. Living Out Loud – Los Angeles spoke with Rodriguez about the good ol’ days, his relationship with Tito Puente and the upcoming event at MOLAA.
”I started working with Tito when I was 17 years old. Through the years I worked with other artists like Tito Rodriguez, but I always stayed with Tito Puente until the day of his passing,” he says. “He was my friend and a part of my family; he was godfather to my daughter. We also traveled with Celia Cruz in later years.”
Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, Rodriguez moved to Las Vegas after Puente’s passing, in large part because of the pain he felt by the loss of his friend, but also to care for his ailing mother. Rodriguez still travels to perform with a new orchestra called La Leyenda del Mambo, and also performs around Las Vegas.
Puente’s orchestra was disbanded some time after he passed.
“When Tito passed, we continued to perform with his family and his wife until she just couldn’t do it anymore. His death affected her so much, and it was difficult enough for her to accept the fact he was no longer with us.”
In regards to his upcoming visit to Los Angeles, he continues, “A friend of mine puts together this event every year, and since I was close with musicians of the day, they invited me to take part this year. I’ve never performed there, but I’m told it’s a fantastic venue, and that people are there to dance, so we can expect a big party that night.”
Tickets for Remembering the Palladium Days are on sale now. For sales and more information, visit museum-of-latin-american-art.myshopify.com/collections/events/products/concert-series-remembering-the-palladium-days-july-18.