Ahh...For the Good Old Days

A visit to Aztlan Fest 2002 brings on the memories of when music was romantic and soulful

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: July 1, 2002

Ahh...For the Good Old Days

It seems to me that many new music groups today rely too much on sensuality and anti-establishment rhetoric in their lyrics, instead of talent. The screaming, the jumping, the act of playing an electric guitar on stage and trying to make it look like a herculean task, the "don't-give-a-fuck-I'm-a-rebel" attitude, are all getting real tired. At the recent Aztlan Fest 2002, I saw some 1960's-70's survivors like me checking out the action with their kids, or maybe grandkids, and sadly shaking their head while grinning: "Same shit, now in Spanish!"

This is not to say that kids today should be denied their chance of adolescent fads and foolishness, or that corporations should not pass up the chance to make more than a few bucks on the impulsive spending of the young. What is significantly missing, however, is the musical tastes of American-born (no choice there, but no apology, either), English speaking, over 40-year-old Latinos.

I met a guy who stated attending the concert that he had been a back up drummer for a couple of well-known Chicano bands in L.A. during the 60's & 70's. Talking about music today, he said, "It's like the whole generation of Chicanos and other Latinos that grew up in the 60's & 70's just fell off the map! We don't have a radio station that reflects our time, our tastes."

Interestingly, I found that some of the Chicano bands he had played with are still making the rounds, a testament to talent and tastes outliving fad-marketing produced groups in the longevity category.

Then I met a lady who was a veteran advertising executive, checking out the scene while proudly carrying her fourth grandchild in her arms. Talking about music, she said, "In the advertising world, the age group of Latinos and Latinas 35-60 years-old falls somewhere between Mariachi/Ranchera/Salsa music vs Rock-n-espa?ol/merengue/hip-hop 'n espa?ol music. Sucks, doesn't it?"

She admitted "Promoters still aren't ready for English speaking Latinos in music that stray from the hip-hop/R & B mold. The good old days of romantic, soulful and memorable music, people and times is almost lost". She admitted to being a former "lowrider."

As I left the event (early like many of my comrades), I had an eerie feeling of sadness and revealation. Is my generation no longer relevant, I thought?

In a humorous act of almost-middle-aged rebellion, I endured the slow cruise out of the crowded parking lot by blasting my English language oldies but goodies on my car stereo with the windows down. A group of young people standing by the exit waiting for a ride were privvy to my entire 15 minute musical tirade.

As I approached them, I half-expected some sort of ridicule or sarcastic comments, which is common among young people, especially when with a peer group. As I approached, the young women broke out into smiles and danced. A young man smiled, gave me a thumbs up and shouted "Good tunes, bro! My mom and dad still play that stuff. Too bad it's not on the radio anymore!"

As I drove off, aknowleging their response and comments with a smile and a fatherly-type nod of approval, I felt pretty good. "We still got it," I thought of my generation.

I drove all the way home with the music full blast, and the windows down.

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme plays the finest Chicano style Oldies but Goodies from the 50's, 60's and 70's live, every Thursday at 6:00 pm, Pacific Time, on http://www.kclafm.com .

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