A Season to Rock & Roll & Thrill Your Soul!

Chicano Music is alive and well in Aztlan ... enjoy a taste on December 27 at Gringo's Cantina in Montebello

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: December 19, 2013

A Season to Rock & Roll & Thrill Your Soul!

I'm often asked by many young listeners to my radio shows, young artists, and readers here at LatinoLA why I'm always pushing "the old stuff" and "the old guys" as Chicano music, and I don't promote the up-and-coming youngsters who are having problems getting exposure while competing in the commercial music world with the likes of Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Mylie Cyrus, Beyonce, etc, etc, etc‘«™

Truth of the matter is‘«™besides NOT being young & upcoming, I don't really LIKE the aforementioned because (with the exception of Beyonce) I don't really see any genuine talent beyond the lights, smoke, dancers, cheap tatoo'd leg-butt- and cleavage shows, and paid off audiences of screaming young pre-teen girls, and the manufactured PR that fools a lot of youngsters into spending their parent's hard earned cash on concert tickets, red carpet entrances, and CDs that end up at swap meets & Wal-Mart $5.00 bargain racks in a couple of months, and t-shirts that can be bought at Goodwill for $1.00 after a year (if they last that long).

I mean seriously‘«™ who wants to buy some used New Kids on the Block, Britney Spears, and Jennifer Lopez CDs that lie around in my garage from my kid's teenage years? Get my point?

There are record collectors in my World that have NO problem spending a couple hundred dollars on a rare 45 recorded 50 years or so ago‘«™and I LOVE listening to them STILL, and would gladly PAY for a COPY! (Have somebody like Madonna or Ricky Martin top THAT!)

Another reason, much like the impetus that has launched the multi-billion Black music industry today, is that the conventional American commercial music industry has virtually ignored and therefore basically disrespected many talented CHICANO artists (NOT the Hispanic, South American, Mexican, Spanish and "other Latins" in Emilio Estefan's pocketbook) that have struggled for recognition and commercial success for years in the American Southwest and beyond, only to be disregarded as meager and insignificant‘«™so I say screw 'em!

Why are young RAZA so hell bent on supporting and competing in such an artificial market that will discard them once the teenage fad has died off?

(Finish your education, kids!)

When Justin Bieber grows a voice, and Mylie Cyrus grows an ass, and they can both impress audiences (not the paid off, free ticket-be-in-a-video teenie bopper kind) with singing voices (sans all the lights, smoke, explosions, dancers, booty shots, and synthesized voice effects) to live music‘«™then I might say, "Let's see what you got."

I have received CD's in the mail and now E-mailed MP-3's (I really hate that crap, too!) of young bands that basically are nothing new, of poor recording quality, and can't even do a cover song right.

You just can't convert everything to Rap & metal rock, sorry. They get angry with me for not playing it on my radio show, or promoting them as "the new Latino performing sensations" when they're not‘«™sorry, but you just don't got it yet, young Bruthas & Sistas‘«™and there's A LOT more to being Chicano than playing in a wannabe band.

Some of these bands record one CD, don't make an immediate million bucks with immediate stardom overnight, and they either quit and go back to their jobs at Target, or unemployment and they Mama's house, or they decide to go "Solo" and fail miserably because of their impatience and only moderately developed & inexperienced talent. (Just playing guitar since you were in high school, or you singing along to music in the privacy of your bedroom doesn't cut it, Bubba!)‘«™and not EVERYBODY appreciates "in your face" Rap music, or misunderstood folk music with a hard rock flavor.

Then, they harshly criticize the artists that came before them, as if that will improve their stock...silly rabbit! Tricks are for kids!

One of my first reasons I promote and appreciate the early and classic Chicano music artists (who can trace their short history of inspiration to the late great Lalo Guerrero and Richie Valens as pioneer Chicano Rock & Rollers, and early Black rhythm & blues artists) is that I see it as an original American Art form, much akin to Blues and Latin Soul music, and to some extent, original Rap music ( sans the cursing and idolization of gang & drug activity) that exhibits REAL singing talent, story telling song writing, and true playing of an instrument.

Art is the soul of any given culture that defines that culture to the World.

Secondly, I have been blessed and fortunate to have personally met many original artists of my lifetime, both Chicano & Black, that have sat down with me, and shared some of the heartache and hard times they endured at the hands of the previously white controlled music industry, as they struggled to practice their beloved art of music first, and chased the almighty dollar second‘«™.which has endowed me with a sense of respect and greater appreciation of their efforts & accomplishments in music.

Many young & upcoming artists do it backwards now, and their arrogance is their biggest downfall and cause of failure in short music careers.

Many of these classic artists continue to travel and perform after 40 years or more‘«™and their perseverance and longevity, along with strong consistent audiences, are testament to the power & influence of the Art of music‘«™when it's done right!

Thirdly, I see it as a cultural pathway to legacy of my people. Ever since our early ancestors sat in caves and starting banging stones & sticks together under the moonlight and started rocking out (no pun intended, LOL!) music and dancing has defined the celebration of life for the sole purpose of living.

Lastly‘«™it sounds GOOD, and people can dance with another person to it!

Every culture on earth has tribal roots that have a foundation in music, performing, and dancing, that has kept their culture alive for thousands of years. The undeniable stimulation of powerful drumbeats and singing that incite dancing in celebration is almost universal.

Long before electric power, recording, electric instruments, radios, stereos, live outdoor concerts, TV videos, newspapers, magazines, billboards, electronic synthesizers & sound manipulators, and the Internet-Facebook-YouTube phenomenon, there was early classical music in Europe that defined culture & civilization more than 600 years ago‘«™and continues today, in a world wide, virtually unchanged, multi-billion dollar industry.

How is that so? Who kept it alive and why?

I'm not trying to sound like a PBS or HBO documentary here, but the answer is simple‘«™people like you and me, and the appreciation of the Art of Music that celebrates life.

Who will remember Chicano music 600 years from now, the way people appreciate Beethoven and Mozart today?

I was once told that American-Chicano music originally had 3 hearts & 3 souls‘«™born in West Side San Antonio, Texas; East Side Los Angeles, California; and the Mission District of San Francisco ( aka "San Pancho"), California, that has touched the heart & soul of all Chicanos in Aztlan (mythically speaking, and correct me if I'm wrong: the tribes of California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and some parts of Northern Mexico & Baja California) that has kept our Chicano culture flourishing and surviving, while ever expanding & diversifying.

Many classic Black Artists also credit their longevity and continued popularity to the Chicano audience as an artistic phenomenon as well...we love our Soul Oldies so, right?

Granted, there has been some attempts to unite Latino artists & music under one banner‘«™but the language barriers (many want to continue in English only, many feel we should become secular and return to Spanish only, and a LARGE majority enjoy the successful combination of the two) and our natural tribal envy/borders/cautions/hesitations of outsiders, and‘«™ let's face it, substance abuse and the commercial success and money of a few who become "Hispanic" in their attempts to assimilate into the traditional commercial world, have all contributed to the fractures of our cultural vase that just can't seem to hold the water of Chicano Music for any sustained length of time on a national basis‘«™

‘«™there's a reason a lot of "the greats" ain't multi-millionairres‘«™sorry to say‘«™ but hey, the music plays on‘«™

But in light of all that‘«™I simply say I love Chicano Music, the artists, the audiences, the shows, and all that it stands for and represents during the course of my lifetime‘«™.and I know I'm gonna have a ball in heaven when I get there, because I'll be in good company!

(And my kids will inherit one hell of a music collection spanning many decades!)

That being said, I invite you all to come taste but a small delicious & artistic morsel of Classic Chicano Music on Friday, December 27th on the east side of the L.A. River, in Montebello, California, on Whittier Boulevard at GRINGO'S CANTINA, where Ray Carrion and Thee Latin All Stars will be putting on the last great Chicano Music Show on the West Coast for 2013.

Hosted by cable/Internet TV's Thee Mr. Duran and "Lady V", featuring some of Chicano Music's finest performing artists live on stage, with classic Rock & Roll/Funk/R&B DJ music provided by yours truly Frankie Firme, the night promises to be one to remember‘«™

‘«™and one you can say "I was there!"‘«™

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone,The Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul, & Voice of Aztlan heard aily on www.eastLArevue.com
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