A Musical Tribute to East LA

Concert featuring Lalo Guerrero, Tierra and more surpasses all expectations

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: October 21, 2002

A Musical Tribute to East LA

The East L.A./Boyle Heights tribute concert held at the Japanese American Museum in downtown L.A. on October 12th was one to remember.

More than 1,000 people showed up to the free concert held on the quad of the museum, with the waterfall-inspired steps making a perfect stage from all angles on a beautiful Southern Califas afternoon, supported by a sound system that rocked Downtown for blocks around. The smell of bar-b-que pollo and carne asada in the air added to the "we are home again" ambiance among the audience that ranged from teenagers to Veteranos y Veteranas in their early 70's.

Starting off the program were some of the most inspiring Aztec dancers I've ever seen, bringing the audience to their feet with cultura and pride, and inspiring a most welcome anti-war protest, reminiscent of the 60's-70's Viet Nam era.

Next, L.A. Taiko kicked it off with their Japanese/Latin jazz/funk fusion, killing all stereotypes of L.A.-style Japanese music, with people dancing in the aisles and sharing smiles.

Shortly afterwords, the East L.A. Sabor Factory busted it wide open with their hard-hitting brass sounds of salsa and Latin jazz. While passing out flyers for my show during their set, I couldn't help but break out into dance, joining the audience, security guards and cooks at the refreshment stand doing the same thing. Damn, brown people sure do have rhythm when the music gets good!!

After some beautiful Chicana poetry and folk music, it was back to the booty shaking sounds. Los Illegals, billed as a "Pachuco punk band" from the 1980's, came straight out and kicked butt with their tribute to L.A., again bringing the audience to their feet in dance.

Next, came the Godfather of Chicano music, the one and only Lalo Guerrero. At age 85 and dressed in a zoot suit mas chingon, Lalo showed the crowd he still has it. Singing and dancing to classics like "Los chucos suave" and "Vamos a bailar", Lalo entered and exited to standing ovations. Like a lot of people, I jumped in the long line to buy some of his new CD's, which feature classic recordings of this true Chicano icon.

The East L.A. Revue All Stars, with artists from such well-known L.A. groups as the Premiers, Blendells, Atlantics, Jaguars, Masked Phantom Band and Sly, Slick & Wicked, put on a well received tribute to the Oldies, with most of the audience singing along in tribute and harmony.

Like Lalo Guerrero, Cannibal and the (New) Headhunters came on stage to a standing ovation, blowing the crowd off their feet with perfect doowop/acapella harmony, singing such classics as "Gloria" and "Land of a 1000 Dances." I didn't catch their names, but the two new, young Chicanos in the group brought a nostalgic grin to a lot of us "older dudes" in the crowd with their excellent crooning, which brought on sighs and screams from the many beautiful females in the audience. Rabbit and Scar showed they still got it, too!

Finally, East L.A.'s favorite sons, Tierra, came out to close the show in style, proving why, after 30 years, they're still the top Latino Rock/Funk/Oldies/Latin-Afro Jazz group on the West Coast. Bringing the audience to their feet with their trademark "Zoot Suit Boogie Tribute," Rudy Salas and the guys were a perfect ending to a perfect afternoon on a perfect occasion.....a tribute to my hometown of L.A.

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano style cruizing Oldies every Thursday at 6:00pm on www.KCLAFM.com for your listening & loving pleasure. Check out his website at: frankiefirme.50megs.com

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