Congratulations, Carnal!

Saluting Steven Chavez, president of Rampart Records

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: January 19, 2006

Congratulations, Carnal!

The Chicano Music world is an exciting place to be in the Land of 1000 Dances, the Brown world of beautiful people, beautiful music, unlimited talent, good times, and lot's of dancing in the mythical land of Aztlan...a fountain of youth from which to drink deeply from as often as you like...

...but as many can attest, the business part is not always kind to those of us of the Brown persuasion, politics aside, as is the literary world and other aspects of public entertainment in the land of the Red, White, and Blue.

That being said, Latino LA wishes to focus on, and congratulate, a man who has endured the "spears & arrows of the dark side", and has recently been named President of the renown RAMPART RECORDS group (a division of GORDO Enterprises) of Los Angeles, which has a 45 year history of promoting and preserving the West Coast East Side Sound of Chicano music in California... good friend, Mr. Steven Chavez.

Along with his wife Juanita (aka Janie), Steven embarked on a hitherto neglected and barely recognized area of Latino music, at a time when mainstream America was beginning to appreciate the "Hispanic" (forgive me, but God...I hate that word) contribution to American music, and the newly discovered "Latin Sound" from the East Coast, Cuba, Mexico, and South America.

Initially chastised by many established entities for promoting the "garage band" sound with a group of veteran but forgotten musicians from the 1960's & 70's (or as I was once told in confidence: "a bunch of nobody's"), Steven formed the East L.A. Revue All Star Band with former members of groups like the Jaguars, The In Crowd, Sly, Slick, and the Wicked, The Counts, Touch, The Vicounts, The Premiers, The Blendells, The Montclairs,and the Atlantics.

With little or no support, Steven took his band on the road, starting off in small venues & car shows, leading up to performances at March Air Force Base, The Latin Oldies Music Festival, BB King's in Hollywood, The Montebello Inn, The Tavern Country Club in Pacoima, The Puente Hills & Lakewood Hops, the "Thee Mr. Duran" cable/internet TV Show, and culminating with a sold out performance at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood with Comedian Gilbert Esquivel's famed "Old School Comedy and Music Revue".

He also helped bring back East L.A.'s Cannibal & The Headhunters from from virtual obscurity as their manager, and became involved with RAMPART RECORDS CEO/Owner , Mr. Hector Gonzalez, in promoting the successful re-issue of the Headhunters classic album "Land of 1000 Dances" , the upcoming documentary film by Hector Gonzalez & Jimmy Velarde "The West Coast East Side Sound", and the successful re-issue of the Premier's classic album "Farmer John".

I first met Steven in 2002 at the Boyle Heights Tribute Concert at The Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles. This was the East L.A. Revue All Star Band's first public performance before a large crowd, and also signaled the return of Cannibal & The Headhunters.The performances were magnificent, which also featured The late Lalo Guerrero and Los Illegales. My only regret was that the concert was not recorded, which I am sure would have been a best seller.

In a recent phone interview, Steven told me that one of his dreams is to get Eddie Davis (founder of Rampart Records) and Chicano Music included into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. " I feel that Eddie Davis was a pioneer in taking a risk in recording then unheard of Chicano musicians & singers in English, which was an anomaly at the time. Also, Chicano music has had a vast influence on Americana, with some of the most recorded music in the American Music scene never being credited to the Chicano artists that broke the mold from traditional Spanish language Mariachi & Ranchera music, which is still the stereotypical impression that a lot of people have of Mexican-American artists outside of L.A. & Texas".

As a Viet Nam War Veteran, Steven also credits his motivation to his own personal experiences, and relationships with the early Chicano (who took a chance back then not calling themselves "Mexican") musicians and singers of the time.

"Almost 50% of the artists from the East Side Sound era served in combat roles in Viet Nam, losing their innocence to a war in the prime of their youth, and returned to a changed American music scene that pretty much turned their back on them with the advent of new genres like hard rock, heavy metal, punk, disco and the like", Steven laments.

Sadly, many of the returning veterans never performed again, or changed genres to keep up with the times until Steven and his wife Janie made a commitment to take things into their own hands and "bring it back" for future generations, calling many of them out of retirement.

As president of RAMPART Record's Rampart Latino and Golden Treasures divisions, Steven will be working closely with Hector Gonzalez in seeking out new Chicano talent, while faithfully re-issuing classic vinyl recordings on CD of his beloved East Side Sound. He will also continue to organize, produce, and promote concerts, events, and shows.

Latino LA takes pleasure in congratulating another one of our Warriors de Aztlan.

Steven Chavez...Viet Nam promoter...the new President of RAMPART Records...a dreamer with a vision...CHICANO!!

Si se puede, Carnal! We know you will do the Gente right!!

note: Mr. Steven Chavez can be reached at

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme's website:

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