Bringing It Back, Con Ganas!
The West Coast East Side Sound comes alive at UC Riverside
My musical journey through the boulevards and corridors of Aztlan takes me on different turns, curves and rolls everytime I go someplace happening. It's all good, and it's good for the soul.
Published on LatinoLA: October 29, 2004
This old vato's gonna get his boogie on till they plant me!
Music has healing powers, unites people, and exhibits the artistic side of our Culture like no other medium can. The different genres of music throughout the World are proof that civilization needs some kind of ritmo to get by...and we do get by!
That being said, let me share with you a little taste of some fine music from my side of the planet.
On October 16th, Music Promoter Steven Chavez, Record/Movie Producers Hector, Miroslava, and Alex Gonzalez, cinematographer Jimmy Velarde, and Estella Acuna & her crew from Radio Aztlan KUCR 88.3 FM got together and put on a show at the University of Riverside that brought back the East L.A. Chicano Rock legends of the 60's like never before, (except for back in the day, of course!).
It was 40 years ago this year, 3 Chicano groups from East L.A. & the San Gabriel Valley, California, put the World on notice that Chicanos can Rock n Roll in english, and in their own unique style that got national attention.
Prior to, most of the World's impression of Mexican American musicians & singers were of stereotypical, spanish language only Mariachis and Nortenos in cowboy hats.
When these guys, Cannibal & The Headhunters, The Premiers, and The Blendells stepped out into the public spotlight, they gave a new meaning to "Cool". Chicano teenagers now had Chicano artists to listen & dance to. Rock n Roll took on a West Coast Brown flavor, and has been emulated the World over ever since.
It was a new era, and the World was watching! 1964 was a turning point, and we've never gone back. The UC Riverside show did justice to this little known slice of Americana.
Starting off the show, Hector & Miroslava Gonzalez introduced their documentary film, which is still in production, "The West Coast East Side Sound Story". With original music, then-and-now interviews, vintage film & photos, and shot in beautiful color, the film takes you on a multichapter ride through music history. Bringing back so many memories, you could hear the sighs, the "oohs" and the "ahhhs" from the audience.
Serving as MC and Host, Steven Chavez could barely hide his enthusiasm as he shared some music trivia prior to introducing the Premiers.
Lawrence Perez never sounded better has he plucked the "Eastside Sound" out of his guitar in a butt shaking opening instrumental that had the audience clapping loudly along. With George Delgado on rythym guitar and Johnny Perez on drums, the Premiers showed the talent that made them legends 40 years ago, and why their music still rocks 40 years later!
Next, Big Mike Rincon and Andy Tesso, the Blendells, came out and gave up a little "Wow" tambien. When the tribal drum beat began, and Mike Rincon began to softly chant "..we're gonna do a little song for you now..." the audience loudly got to their feet to sing along with the classic "La la la la la". Hey, I was out there! After a couple of more classics, like "Huggies Bunnies" and "get your baby" , the Blendells took a bow and let the East L.A. Revue All Star Band take over.
Serving as "house" band to these Chicano greats seemed to spark the All Stars, as Maria Conchita Sandoval, Teri Speed and Art Hernandez all took turns singing some righteous lead vocals to some rightous Oldies....and the band was tight tonight!
To close the show in a grand finale, The East L.A. Revue All Star band, The Premiers, and The Blendells all came on stage to join Richard "Scar" Lopez and David Casteneda, the remaining "Cannibal & The Headhunters", for the ever popular classic "Land of 1000 Dances". I could see the entire audience singing along, and I had to join in.
I was about 4 years too short of catching these greats live by the time I was old enough to start going to concerts, but I have enjoyed and played their records over the years ever since.
Tonight, they all brought it back, and I felt like I never missed a thing! What a most FIRME memory!!
..who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?.....hmmm...
Note: The East L.A. Revue All Star Band, Miroslava Gonzalez and Big Mike Rincon are among the performers at the Chicano Oldies, Blues & Rock n Roll Show at The Club Montebello in Montebello, California on November 5th, a benefit concert to help keep Chicano Music on the World Wide Web airwaves. for more info, call 626-806-2379
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano Oldies but Goodies and Latin Soul music on the World Wide Web every Thursday at 6:oopm, pacific time, only on www.kclafm.com