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Peace in the Street

Chicanos & Blacks party for peace in East L.A.

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: April 15, 2007


Peace in the Street


Just as expected, older, good looking members of L.A.'s Chicano and Black community came together to share love, music, hope, and ideas concerning the streets of the City of Angels recently at the first "Peace in the Street" Oldies concert held at the Montebello Inn a couple weeks back.

The Montebello Inn, one of the last historic Chicano music venues from East L.A.'s "East Side Sound" golden era on Whittier Boulevard that hasn't fallen victim to redevelopment bulldozers, was the setting for a fine concert, for some fine Gente, on a fine Sunday afternoon.

Setting the mood and atmosphere while providing security, the entire membership of East L.A.'s Old Memories Car Club fell out in style, parking classic 1930's and 1940's vintage autos that are true works of art, in front and in back of the Montebello Inn, almost giving you a hint of what it was like "back in the day", when R & B and Rock & Roll music were new, and cruising with your lady was the order of the day...and you didn't have to worry about being shot or arrested for just cruising the street.

The show featured yours truly at MC & house DJ, and for once, I wasn't besieged with requests from youngsters in their 30's asking for house, hip-hop, disco, and top 40 music. Today was a day for doo~wops, grinders, soul and classic R & B oldies....and I had 'em all!

Starting around noon, people from all over started rolling in, finding an atmosphere of nostalgia and nostalgic music. Mr. Abelardo de la Pena Jr. of LatinoLA, SATISFACTION's Chris Reserva, and original THEE MIDNITERS drummer & founding member George Salazar were spotted in the crowd, soaking up a good time.

Classic R & B singers Eddie Daniels from the PLATTERS, Fanita James from the DREAMERS & BLOSSOMS, Billy Carlton of the MAJESTICS, and Jewel Aikens mingled comfortably among the crowd, while Steven Chavez & Hector Gonzalez of RAMPART RECORDS set up a display booth of vintage music and photos for the inquisitive. Everybody comfortably exchanged stories about the "good old days", and we all wondered where the music and it's romantic and artistic influence has gone.

The message of "Peace in the Street" was consistently discussed around the crowd, many of whom were parents or grandparents of young victims of gang violence. It appeared to be opening up dialogue among the Latino and Black community members and members of community organizations that were on hand...and a process of hope and healing appeared to be manifesting.

Prior to the start of the show, Mr. David King of the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) World Services was on hand, having heard about the event from Agustin Gurza's L.A. Times Calendar section story the day before. Through a live satellite broadcast interview heard around the World, I, along with singer Marvin "Rip" Spencer, were able to tell the World that L.A. and L.A.'s Chicano and Black communities are much more than violent haters, gang members, and illegal immigrants....the media's stereotypical image of the wonderful people of color in the Land of 1000 Dances.

Marvin explained the difference between the artistic talent of classic Chicano & Black artists compared to today's rappers & hip hoppers, with their violent, drug, and sexually aggressive undertones, that have had a negative effect on today's young. "We older guys are here to bring something back...and to let the younger dudes realize that music & dancing should not be negative and destructive...and that Blacks and Latinos can and should live together in this World, making it better with beautiful music!".

And with that, the show began, as the people came in and packed the place....

Opening up with some classic blues & rock & roll, Billy Cormier & the Imposters band hit the stage. Featuring well known L.A. Chicano artists Johnny Burrola on saxophone, and Karl Carrasco at keyboards, the Imposters easily got the crowd dancing and moving.

Then, MARVIN & JOHNNY (pictured), strutted up on stage, resplendent in matching red zoot suits, and wowing the crowd with their great musical numbers and dance moves. To see these classic artists move and groove (both Marvin & Johnny in their late 60's) was the epitomy of what I've always said about music being a fountain of youth. These guys took a deep drink throughout their 45 minute set.

And the crowd was just as young at heart! Abuelos y abuelas were getting down!

After a brief break, the COASTERS came on stage, dressed to kill in white zoot suits and top hats, singing all their classics, ending their set with a romantic medley of everybody's favorite oldie "grinders", that had the dance floor full of young (at heart) lovers. Nobody could believe that lead singer Grady Chapman was nearing 80 years old, as he sang and performed his heart out like he was a teenager!

As the show closed, Marvin and I thanked everybody for coming, and once again gave out the message "peace through music...end the violence...save our young".

See you at the next one, mi Gente...and it's coming

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone, and the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul.
website: www.frankiefirme.50megs.com




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