News from the Brown Side of Town - 9.10.06
Back on the block with Frankie Firme
?Orale, Mi Gente! After a much-deserved hiatus after celebrating seven years on the world wide Internet radio airwaves, the "Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul" is back on the block, bringing you the straight up 411 from the Land of 1000 Dances here on LatinoLA.com.
Published on LatinoLA: September 10, 2006
I was amused to get wind of some rumors about our absence, and I'm glad to say that neither I, Steven Chavez, nor Crazy Chuy Hernandez were busted, deported, or placed into rehab, and our Ladies haven't thrown us out.
The Summer of 2006 sizzled, and the West Coast Brown sound of Aztlan busted out and made waves all over the World.
The Soul of Aztlan Show rocked the San Fernando Valley at Tia Chucha's Cultural Center, premiering the documentary movie "The West Coast East Side Sound", the release of the CD "Frankie Firme Presents 16 Rare & Golden Treasures From the Vaults of Rampart Records," live performances by Pepe Marquez and Anthony Prieto, and a farewell party for author-poet and Tia Chucha's founder Luis Rodriguez, who was invited to South America to promote Chicano Culture. Movie producers Hector & Miroslava Gonzalez, Jimmy Velarde, and Steven Chavez gave an eye opening question and answer session during the program that provided a rare historical look into Chicano Rock & Roll.
The SATISFACTION band rocked the Elks Lodge in San Fernando, and I was fortunate to join them for a packed private gig that signaled their return to the Valley. These guys and a gal remain a Chicano Music favorite.
The 13th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival drew well over 45,000 salseros from around the Country, as hot acts like Leslie Paula, Susie Hansen, Tobaco y Ron, Orquesta Son Mayor, Orquesta Charangoa, and Johnny Polanco sizzled for the two day festival at the "Barrio by the Sea." Also celebrating long time host and MC Pablo Ortiz's birthday, I was honored to help out as one of the co-hosts of the "Baile con Pablo" segment dance contest, and it was a party!! (See you next year!)
RAMPART RECORDS released re-mastered CD's "Rockin' the Barrio" (a really fine Oldies compilation), and Cannibal & The Headhunter's "Land of 1000 Dances" (with six bonus tunes) that was well received by loyal fans in Japan and Europe, as well as here at home. A brief controversy arose as an imitator group attempted to cash in on the renewed popularity of "The Heads" reputation, but in the end, they fumbled embarassingly and proved that the originals are still the classic best, and history cannot be re-written.
Midnites Moon, a new group comprised of original and founding Thee Midniters members Benny Lopez and George Salazar, which also includes artists Anthony "Beaver" Carrol (Jaguars and East L.A. Revue All Star Band fame), Al Anaya (Impalas fame), Victor Cisneros (TIERRA fame) and others, completed their first CD "A New Moon Rising," which includes some great original tunes which includes my new theme song "Firme's Land". Release is scheduled for late September-early October. You can hear it exclusively on the 2nd Time Around Show on www.kclafm.com and www.ChicanoExpress.com until then.
The Oakland Bay area's Al Carlos Hernandez has done a fine job bringing the Brown perspective of today's life in "the 'hood" here to LatinoLA, and has developed a pretty good L.A. following. ?Te aventastes, Carnal!
Santa Barbara's Pepe Marquez's CD "Dance Mamacita" continues to be a growing favorite, Aaron Ballesteros and APB's CD "Be on the lookout" garnered Grammy Award consideration, and Santa Ana's BARELA Band's CD "Did you ever think" has received some serious attention in the Land of 1000 Dances.
Marvin & Johnny have released a new CD entitled "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" that offers some really nice sounds, including the new tune "Let's Get Together". It's available at Sounds of Music in East L.A., and Marvin made a personal appearance on "the Boulevard" to promote it. A live show is in the works.
The Gente de Aztlan are really enjoying this year's reunion of East L.A. Chicano music icons Rudy & Steve Salas of TIERRA fame. TIERRA has been on a hot streak this summer, playing to packed houses at UC Riverside's Aztlan Music Festival, The Salesian High School reunion Rock & Roll Show, The John Anson Ford Theater in Hollywood & L.A. County Fair in Pomona as part of the "Latin Legends Show". They are still one of Aztlan's top draw.
Steve Salas also released his second solo CD "Reflections" which musically spans his long career as the "voice of TIERRA", and includes some new tunes as well. His CD release party at the Azteca Restaurant in San Gabriel was a standing room only event, with guest stars brother Rudy and saxophonist Bobby Navarrete, along with El Chicano's Ersi Arvisu joined Steve on stage for some impromptu jamming. At one point, you could feel the love in the air as the Brothers Salas broke out into an Oldies medley that watered some eyes. Spotted in the crowd was Rampart record's Steven Chavez, Richard "Thee Mr." Duran, and many others of the East L.A. music scene. You know my Lady & I were out on the floor. Also beaming with pride was Steve's lovely Lady Mary Alcantar, who served as a gracious hostess to the event.
After winning the Best Performer award at L.A.'s "Salute America" gala, newcomer Chicana Diva Melinda Del Toro was invited to represent and perform at the Latin Summer Music Festival in Canada. Reports are that she "wowed" them all!
I will be joining the East L.A. Revue Band for a fundraiser event in the San Fernando Valley in October with W.A.V.E. , an organization dedicated to assisting and protecting victims of domestic violence. More news on that later...
Sadly, the Summer of 2006 comes to a close with the loss of a Chicano Music radio legend, Rick "Huggie Boy" Hugg. Known as the "Dick Clark for Chicanos", Huggie Boy began his L.A. radio career in the 1950's, joining radio pioneers Art Laboe and Hunter Hancock bring Doo Wop and Rock & Roll to the West Coast masses, and endearing many generations of listeners on numerous AM & FM radio stations up until just a couple of years ago.
I was fortunate to meet him a couple of times, and he was an inspiration to me. He always said "the oldies will never die"...and I carry on that tradition in his memory.
Thanks, "Huggie"...you helped paint L.A. Brown for a lot of us !
Frankie Firme is "the Al Capone of the microphone and the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul".