Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?

The Blues Straight Up Band kicks out in style

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: February 17, 2006

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?

Ahhh...the World of Chicano Music. Just when I've thought that there are no new rythmic mountains to climb, no new musical territory to venture into, along comes a group of talented veteran musicians and singers, stepping into a new arena and once again proving that we can it all, and in 2 languages.

Chicanos own the Oldies but Goodies and Tejano action. We have more than proven ourselves in Pop, Country, Hip-hop, and Rap.

Popular singers like Pepe Marquez, Rocky Padilla, Cory Silva, Steve Salas, Leslie Paula, Anthony Prieto, and groups like TIERRA, SOTO, SATISFACTION, NUESTRO, CHICO, THE TOWER OF POWER, The EAST L.A. REVUE BAND, and SANGRIA put an exciting twist on R & B, Disco, Funk, Rock, Salsa, and Latin Soul.

New groups like Aaron Ballesteros's APB, and Steven Chavez's QUINTO SOL, are beginning to turn heads with their West Coast Chicano take on Reggea.

No wonder L.A. and Southern Califas has become known as the Land of 1000 Dances.

...and so, nothing left to do but sing the Blues...and a hot group that has become known as the "finest Chicano Blues Band on the Planet", THE BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND, does just that. They have just released their much anticipated first CD entitled "What's up with the Blues" that I must say is a most enjoyable listening experience of contemporary American Blues music...with a CHICANO twist, of course!

I was first introduced to the BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND by my good friend, L.A. music producer/promoter Steven Chavez. I had heard L.A. Blues before by such artists as The Delgado Brothers and Bobby Rodriguez, but these artists have a wide repetoire of music (as most GOOD Chicano artists do), and I never really considered them totally dedicated to Blues music... I just considered them really good at playing the Blues once in awhile.

"These guys are totally into the Blues", Steven told me excitably, "They have great vocal talent, and some great music to back it up, they do it bi-lingually, and they're not kids. THEY KNOW what they're doing". Not a lot excites somebody like Steven Chavez, so , I had to check this "Blues Straight up Band" out... and after hearing them, I immediately invited them to be on the bill for my fundraiser concert a couple of years ago, to which they brought the house down at the Montebello Inn that night.

After a killer performance, I asked them "Why haven't you guys recorded? The Gente would love this stuff!".

Bass player, band leader, and East L.A. Chicano Music legend "Big Mike" Rincon (of the BLENDELLS fame) smiled comfortably, put his hand on my shoulder and said "Hell, Frankie...we're just havin fun, man... Never really gave that much thought...just having fun".

2 years later, than fun has culminated into a 10 track, beautifully recorded and mastered CD entitled "What's up with the Blues". Recorded with the help of another East L.A. Chicano Music legend, Ramon "Lil'Ray" Jimenez , the CD showcases some of their best stuff...but not everything, believe me!

With Big Mike on bass guitar, the group also features veterans Dave "Harpdog" Pearce on harmonica, sax, and vocals, Dave New on guitar, Carlos Carrion on drums, and James Rodriguez on keyboards.

Rounding out the group, and peppering it up with sassy, bi-lingual, "in your face, don't mess with me" CHICANA attitude and moxie, Ms Lava Gonzalez (of Lava and the Hot Rocks fame) is the group's lead vocalist.

In the opening cut, "Too close to the border to sing the blues", a tribute to the late, great, Texas Bluesman Randy Garibay, Lava belts out "I don't like Disco, and I don't do Tejano...but I love to sing the Blues, a la estilo Chicano!", and sets the mood for a really fine cruise into the world of Blues music like never before.

Besides doing justice to well known Blues classics like "Rocket 88", "Stormy Monday", and Janis Joplin's unforgetable "Turtle Blues", the BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND puts a nasty little twist to "I'm in a dangerous mood", and (in another tribute to Randy Garibay) "Viuda Negra~Black widow woman", in which Lava gives us guys a playful kick down below with such lyrics as "Just like a prisoner... I got you doing things my way, baby...and YOU KNOW I'm gonna love you...even though you'll wind up dead" , along with some evil but fun bi-lingual teasing.

Bringing back a taste of Big Mike's East L.A./BLENDELLS influence, "I'm lost without you" kicks in a nice little chorus of "la, la, la, la,la," that like the 1964 original, will have you singing along before you know it.

Throughout the whole album, the keyboards, bass, harmonica, and guitar are simply wicked, in the true sense of that late night, "comfort of the dark" Blues attitude, that escapes other genres of music entirely.

Add some hot percussion, drums, and dynamic Chicana vocals, and you'll understand what Big Mike meant...."just having fun, man...just having fun..."

The BLUES STRIAGHT UP BAND ~ The finest Chicano Blues Band on the Planet~ quote me!

note: The BLUES STRAIGHT UP BAND's new CD is available on www.cdbaby.com, or visit
their website at www.bluesstraightup.com

...and remember...you heard about it first, here, on LatinoLA.com !

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme's website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com
e~mail: frankiefirme@mail.com

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