Spotlight on the Brown: Santa Barbara's Pepe Marquez

A mellow guy with an engaging smile, sparkling stage presence, and a bi-lingual vocal range

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: August 16, 2005

Spotlight on the Brown: Santa  Barbara's  Pepe Marquez

As a writer, music promoter, and Internet Radio DJ and personality, I'm frequently sent samples of new music from artists all over the Country, and sometimes different parts of the World. I have been truly blessed with a fine collection , from some of the finer performing artists of my time.

The music and the talent I have have been exposed to over the last 6 years have broadened my horizons on the various differentiations artists from different geographical locations around the globe can take on the art that is music.

As I have stated many times before, music is, by far, one of the most artistic achievements of modern civilization, and this achievement is expounded upon around the globe in a most glorious manner as an expression and celebration of life, love, and the human experience.

That being stated, I also have the unfortunate task of screening out the music that does not fit the genre to which I most certainly adhere to as my point of focus and promotion: mainly that of Aztlan flavored Oldies but Goodies, Latin Soul and West Coast inspired Blues, Funk, R & B, Soul, and Rock & Roll. (with some variations and exceptions , of course...never can it be said that I'm a musical prude!). That is not to take away anything from the time, talent, and performance of the fine artists that have crossed my path.

I thank you all, wish you well in your endeavors, and strive to expose your music to those that promote your genre. That is the least I can do for your contribution to the art that is music, and your generous intentions of involving me in your efforts.

Another distinction I have made is the heart & soul of the artists and the music they make. I know I've been known to address some artistic attempts as "noise", "loud noise", and "noise not worth hearing", but somebody has to come out and say it when it is so, que no?

Then, there are those who are artists, and there are those who ....well..let's just say there are those who are not! The distinction is best self realized, rather than that of public humiliation, ok? (...'nuff said 'bout that, homies! You know who you is!...)

Now...this piece focuses on a new artist and new music that has pleased me in both ways as to motivate me to write this piece today. Not a world reknown name (yet!), but a most truly talented Chicano de Aztlan that I take pleasure in introducing to you,
.... Mr. Pepe Marquez of Santa Barbara, Califas.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jose "Pepe" Marquez earlier last year, as mutual contacts introduced me to his CD "Just for you", and after reviewing it, I just had to meet the man behind the music.

Over the past few years, some friends have told me about a group from Santa Barbara, California, the Flashbacks, that have lit up the local club scene for years, with hard hitting brass and soulful takes on covers from different genres like disco, cumbia, rock & roll, funk, soul, and oldies but goodies. What they most were impressed with was the vocalist, a mellow guy with an engaging smile, sparkling stage presence, and a bi-lingual vocal range that gets attention, and fills dance floors. Only thing was, these guys hadn't performed much outside of Santa Barbara.

Copping an "L.A. attitude", I figured I'd see them eventually, or hear their CD when they get around to making one. (Over the last 6 years, many a group has promised, promoted, & praised themselves...but never came across with anything more than a few scattered gigs before they fell off the radar and into obscurity)...tu sabes, I don't get up to Santa Barbara very often!

This time, however, eventuality arrived... and somebody came across, and I got the CD!

Meeting Pepe for the first time, I expected this flamboyant stage personality that booms out from his music CD. I had invited Pepe and his lovely Lady Yolie to be my guests at the Gilbert Esquivel Comedy & Music Review in Hollywood, which I was hosting, thinking he would fit right into the Hollywood scene.

Instead, I met this polite gentleman whose bearing & attitude belie the powerful voice you hear on the CD. The engaging smile is there, and you get a sense of the quiet,focused intelligence of this artist when you converse with him, which is not a difficult task at all, believe me.

(Upon meeting him, my Lady later asked me, "Is this the same Pepe who sings on the CD?")

Indeed it is. The CD "JUST FOR YOU" is a masterful piece of work, with clear cut sound, powerful brass back up, and Pepe's vocals soothing you, exciting you, and pushing you through all 12 cuts, like he knew what you wanted to hear, and how you wanted to hear it!

Tearing up dance cover classics like "grazing in the grass" and "what you see is what you get"(with a playful ad lib line "if what you want is a big ole' Mezkin"), to cumbias like "Juana la Cubana", and "Mambo UK", to Pepe's sultry renditions of ballads "All this love", "working on a groovy thing" and the all time Midniter's classic "That's all" (with a heartfelt introduction that makes you look for your honey to hold), the music builds up to a climax for his original cut "Come back" (my favorite to be sure!) and the spanish language version of the same song entitled "Te Necesito" (hot & popular with the Gente in Texas, thanks to the Godfather of Tejano Soul, Crazy Chuy Hernandez on his radio network ChicanoExpress radio), "JUST FOR YOU" is fast becoming a Southern Califas Chicano classic.

I caught a live performance of Pepe Marquez and the Flashbacks a couple of weeks ago up in Carpinteria, California, and man!... did they light the Gente up! Pepe also came down to L.A. for a show of mine a couple of months ago, and sang a number with the great East L.A. Revue All Star Band (..what else? the all time East L.A. Chicano lowriding-love classic, featured on his CD, "That's All"). Manager & music promoter Steven Chavez was impressed, hinting that he wants to keep in contact with Pepe for possible future projects....hmmmm....keep your ears open, Mi Gente!

As far as the heart & soul part, Pepe and I have become good friends, and he has introduced me to another Santa Barbara singing sensation, Mr. Anthony Prieto. (More on him later). He continues to make sing, make music, laugh, and live life...and he has a lovely lady that makes him smile!

...I know the feeling, carnal! Good Brown women make a man move, verdad?

Pepe is scheduled to be a guest on my show soon, and he recently told me that based on the success of his first CD, he's now working on a second one. I have no doubt Pepe will have as much fun making this one, as he had making the last one. He's just that type of guy!

Go head on, Pepe! Si se puede, Carnal...it's a Brown thing, baby!

(This one's for Santa Barbara, Califas! )

note; Pepe Marquez's CD 'Just for You" is available in record stores, or by stopping by his website: www.jpmarquez.com

...and tell him Frankie Firme sent you!

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie firme spins the finest tunes on the World Wide Web.
website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

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