Taking the Parking Brake Off in Monterey Park

The East L.A. Revue rock's Paul's Kitchen

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: May 20, 2005

Taking the Parking Brake Off in Monterey Park

Back on the road...and loving it!! Nothing recharges the spirit like the music & Gente de Aztlan!!

Kickin' up the chancla now & then doesn't hurt either!

So it was, on a warm Southern Califas pre-summer Saturday night, that my journey through the musical Boulevrds of Aztlan finds me at Paul's Kitchen, a quaint, hip spot in Monterey Park, Califas , where the legendary EAST L.A. REVUE ALL STAR BAND and myself, on behalf of KCLA FM and LatinoLA, hosted a fan appreciation party.

A little over 5 years ago, while trying to hook up a gig with a couple of L.A. commercial FM stations where I could spotlight my beloved Chicano music de Aztlan('cause nobody else except "Sancho", a public radio Chicano DJ, was), I was politely told that I was a "Dinosaur", that classic Chicano Rock & Roll and West Coast Latin Soul music from the 50's, 60's and 70's was dead. With the advent of the terms "Latino" and "Hispanic" over the past 15 years, American corporate and Spanish language programming's politically convenient blending of everybody spanish surnamed, and the explosion of new Spanish language rap, punk, rock, banda, and alternative music, a true "CHICANO" audience "just didn't exist anymore".

Lowriding Oldies, Tejano, and Early West Coast Latin Soul, the kind performed & recorded mainly by Chicano and Black artists outside of major record labels, were relegated to Sunday nights and Art Laboe, I was told, where the same 200 songs are heard, and the audience consisted mainly of gang members in prison and their visiting spouses.(and not very big, either!)

The term "CHICANO" was also passe, they kindly attempted to inform me, and the term "Latino" was losing steam as "Hispanic" was the term mainstream America was comfortable with....and more marketable, at that!

That being said...I considered first blood drawn!! Orale!! Coming from a long line of Chicano Warrior blood (not everybody will get this, unfortunately), I considered the line in the sand drawn, and the "war paint" on... But as an educated Chicano veterano, I considered it a better alternative to get even...and not even on hostile or violent terms.

I went to internet radio, something new & untested in 1999, where I was welcomed with open arms as a CHICANO, no questions asked. "Just play the music people want to hear, dude", I was told.

5 and a half years later, my show on Internet Radio Station www.KCLAFM.com has amassed an audience of over 2,000,000 listeners around the world. I have received e~mails from listeners in Hawaii, Samoa, Canada, Japan, Europe, Australia, South America and increasingly, the Middle East, where the first question is frequently "What country do Chicanos come from?". Ha! Now, we're being noticed! Now "Chicano" music is marketable. With the help & inspiration of die-hard CHICANO artists, writers, musicians, comedians, poets, brother Internet Radio DJ's from different states, this Web magazine...and the uncountable large listening & reading audience, CHICANO is now the hip term & style in many circles of hitherto embarrassed Latinos & Hispanics.

NO OFFENSE TO ANY OTHER FLAVORS OF RAZA INTENDED!!...this piece is about my flavor!

Oldies and "Old School" concerts are nothing new. But to focus exclusively on Chicano/Latino Soul, Rock & Roll & Classic R&B music from the West Coast had a lot of people scratching their heads for a minute...was there an audience for this??

It all came together in October 2002, with a lot of planning & re-planning,(and many fingers crossed) in Los Angeles at the Boyle Heights Tribute Concert, held at the Japanese-American National Museum. Featuring a spoonful of everything L.A.-Chicano: The East L.A. Revue All Star Band (in their first major performance), Lalo Guerrero, Mark Guerrero, Cannibal & The Headhunters, some beautiful Aztec dancers, inspiring recited Chicana poetry, Los Illegals, TIERRA, an audience ranging from teenagers to veteranos in their 70's, and a little known Chicano Internet DJ passing out flyers for his show and for a little known internet magazine called LatinoLA.com for which he was a fledgling writer...none of us knew what was next...but over 1,000 people showed up that day.

Fast-forward to 2005: In appreciation to all who have given their support to the East L.A. Revue Band's success, Internet Radio station KCLA FM, and LatinoLA , a party was thrown by music promoter Steven Chavez and Paul's Kitchen owner Thomas Yee, featuring The East L.A. Revue All Star Band (with 5 additional members added since their initial performance), and yours truly serving as Host and house DJ.

For a well dressed, classy, (slightly) over 40, & good looking Chicano crowd, the party was on! The band was in the zone, and the dance floor was hot! Tom Yee and his staff provided a free buffett dinner, Steven Chavez insured free secure parking, and I made sure the music flowed when the band took a break, giving out free cd's & t-shirts.

As always, the East L.A. Revue All Stars make it a party, band members hitting the dance floor and kickin' chancla with the Gente when they weren't on stage. You know I was out there, gettin' my boogie on!

Out on the dance floor & enjoying the party, I ran into brother Internet DJ Ray "Maloman" Roybal, music & record producer Antonio Perez, Internet TV star Richard "Thee MR." Duran, and singer Bertha Oropeza of the Chico band. Rumor had it LatinoLA's Abelardo De La Pena was out there gettin' his boogie on, but I can't confirm that.

One of the highlights of the night came when band members informed the audience that Paul's Kitchen owner Tom Yee, an Asian-American, was a former low rider from West L.A., and a former member of the 1960's L.A. Doo Wop group the Lyrics. They called him on stage and he wowed the audience with a rendition of Chicago's "beginnings", the band backing him up flawlessly.

It was a great party, and Tom happily said "We gotta do this again! Great crowd!"

Steven Chavez and I both smiled and said "We'll be here!!"

...and so my journey through Aztlan continues...who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?...only LatinoLA knows!...

note: The East L.A. Revue All Star band will be performing at BB King's at the Universal Citywalk May 28th, 2005. For more info, contact Steven Chavez at: stevenchavez68@aol.com

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme's website: http://www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

It's a BROWN thing, baby!!

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