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Hope & Disappointment in the Land of 1000 Dances

The East L.A. Revue All Star Band 2002 - 2005

By Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: August 30, 2009


Hope & Disappointment in the Land of 1000 Dances


Like a dream that slowly fades from memory as time passes on, many people in the Land of 1000 Dances are slowly beginning to forget the local, popular, "almost-made-it-to-the-bigs" bands from the recent past that had the luck and privilege to be at right time at the right place, but then, because of bad decisions or outside interference, just couldn't put the finishing touches on a promising musical career, or capitalize on a second or third chance.

As any experienced musician or artist can tell you, the entertainment road of music is littered with disappointments, broken hearts, broken promises, and broken unfulfilled dreams by the thousands. Many new friendships are fragile or fair weather at best. It's not an easy or psychologically safe road to travel.

Those that follow it simply for fame and money rarely get far, and fumble badly unless they get lucky or supplement themselves with a job or a hustle‘«™and they don't last long past their one bright moment or two, either.

Those that choose instead to follow a dream, and have a good time, while living and sharing life and music with others in the World are the ones that endure, are the ones that audiences and fans enjoy, and are the ones most people remember and appreciate for their musical contributions to their lifetime‘«™and their legacy lives on‘«™they're the ones that "make it" through all the muck that comes with the territory.

Drugs, alcohol, personal relationships of both orientations, politics, money, personality conflicts, exploitation, bad or inexperienced management, bad luck and bad decisions, and most of all, egos, all get in the mix and make the musical working world a most difficult road to travel indeed. Many have just quit after a few years.

‘«™those that haven't are the artists we respect today.

I have met many, many musicians who say they played with "this" band or "that" band, have a brother or cousin who has done the same, and "was there" when things were happening, know more, and SWEAR they're better than most others currently on the circuit. They are victims of bad luck or bad decisions, and wallow away in jobs other than music while bitterly and jealously criticizing those who have made it to some degree of success‘«™sorry bruthas, I guess it just wasn't your time‘«™but give 'em some love, OK?

I have actually had people confront me on the validity of bands I support when I've NEVER heard "theirs"‘«™what can I say? That was then, this is now, and the clocks ticking, bro....

The stories are endless, from L.A. to Texas to San Francisco and Oakland to Chicago to New York, some making it, some not‘«™here's one for you, that I can tell you from personal experience:

In early 2002, I was just starting to have a little success with my "2nd Time Around Show" at Hollywood cable/internet Radio Station KCLA FM, and a relatively new Latino web magazine called LatinoLA that gave me a chance to act as a roving reporter of sorts, when I attended an outdoor concert at the Japanese Museum in Los Angeles giving tribute to East L.A. and Boyle Heights.

The headliners were TIERRA, LALO GUERERO, LOS ILLEGALES, EAST L.A. SABOR FACTORY, and the original CANNIBAL & THE HEADHUNTERS, along with other groups and artistic acts. It was packed to standing room only on a beautiful sunny Califas October afternoon in 2002. Read about it here.

The show was one of those "one in a million" shows, put on by Ruben Gueverra, but the group that caught my attention was the opening new group of older guys called the East L.A. Revue All Star Band.

Featuring former members of well-known (but no longer in action) 1960's Chicano bands from East L.A. such as the Premiers, the Blendells, The Masked Phantom Band, The Atlantics, the Jaguars, the Sly, Slick,& the Wicked, and the In Crowd, these guys rocked !

Playing 1960's "garage rock" oldies from the East Side that got a lot of people's attention, I was very intrigued that somebody else had thought to "bring it back and keep it alive". Songs I hadn't heard in awhile were now performed live , reminding me that I had just missed this generation of great tunes by a couple of years‘«™what a nice flashback in music! I still had the 45's !

I made it a point to seek out and find the band's manager, Mr. Steven Chavez. I had to know more about these guys and get in on some good music.

I got invited to a rehearsal, made friends with the band, and for the next three years we hung out and traveled together, doing live East L.A. Revue All Star Band concerts all across Southern California, appearing on world wide Cable/Internet TV show "THEE MR DURAN SHOW", on the Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood with GILBERT ESQUIVEL's original Old School Music and Comedy Revue, the MARCH AIR FORCE BASE for a "Welcome home" concert for returning U.S. Troops from Iraq, the LATIN OLDIES FESTIVAL at San Bernardino's Arrowhead Stadium, UC Riverside's AZTLAN FESTIVAL, the SFV's FAIRWAYS COUNTRY CLUB, and numerous hot spots in and around Los Angeles and Orange County.

They shared stages with such groups as the SATISFACTION Band, The COMPANY Band, SOTO, TIERRA, THEE MIDNITERS, THE BLUES STRAIGHT UP, MARK GUERRERO, The BLENDELLS, THE VILLAGE CALLERS, the original CANNIBAL & THE HEADHUNTERS, The PREMIERS, and the LIL' BIT O' SOUL band.

They had many guest artists join in with them on stage such as singers PEPE MARQUEZ, BERTHA OROPEZA (of CHICO fame), MICKY LESPRON and ERSI ARVISU (of EL CHICANO fame), STEVE SALAS (of TIERRA fame), BRENTON WOOD, ERNIE "EL TORPEDO" MEDINA, and HANK CASTRO.

They recorded three CD's, were regularly featured on my radio show, as well as on Texas's CHICANO EXPRESS Radio Show with famed DJ "Crazy Chuy" Hernandez, and enjoyed a large following throughout the southwest with their music

At their peak of their short success, they were 11 strong, including a powerful 4 piece brass section, and 2 very talented female co-lead singers, Maria Sandoval and Teri Speed.

They were quite possibly one of the most popular and in-demand bands in L.A. for a short time‘«™and WHAT a time it was! They were tight, and performed almost flawlessly. Shows were always packed. Money and offers were started to come in. It was a Chicano music fantasy come true!

Just when it seemed that things were going right, success was sitting on their lap, and they were just a couple of steps away from Vegas, national touring, and the "bigs"‘«™ the band imploded.

Personal disagreements with management, some wanting to take this "second chance" and parlay it into a solo career they couldn't accomplish in 1960's, infighting, some wanting to start a new band or revive their old 1960's band apart from the management that had taken them this far, some just wanting to take a break after three years of gigging almost every weekend, one got married, one had a baby, outside forces attempting to pick members away from the band‘«™.success & money had spoiled the band members in a way that was denied them almost 40 year ago, and some of them just didn't know how to act at this point of their life, most of them being over 50 years old‘«™more bad decisions‘«™so the band imploded and stopped performing as a group altogether in the Summer of 2005.

All of the individual projects fell through or failed miserably‘«™and hurt feelings keep the band from ever reuniting.

Many people still request East L.A. Revue All Star Band music on my radio shows, and once in a while I get a call or e-mail from someone wanting to book them for a gig‘«™but I tell them that ship has passed‘«™and refer other bands I know are good.

Don't know what happened to most of the band members after they went their separate ways, but manager Steven Chavez, drummer Rene "Reenie" Flores, bass player Tony "Beaver" Carrol, keyboardist Dan "The Man" Crespie, conguero Ray "Conga Ray" Ybarra and I remain friends, and we all remain active in music.

Steven continues to produce music shows, is the President of a well known west coast record company, and started his own Internet radio station www.eastLArevue.com. "Reenie" plays drums for the popular MAD LATINS Band. "Beaver" plays bass for a couple of East Side sound-oriented bands including THEE MONTCLAIRS, MIDNITES MOON, and most notably with George Salazar's 2nd TIME AROUND Band. Dan the Man and Conga Ray play with L.A.'s powerful SOUL PURSUIT BAND, and Conga Ray also sits in with Santa Barbara singing sensations PEPE MARQUEZ and ANTHONY PRIETO from time to time.

Where the rest are I don't know, but I wish them well‘«™and I thank them for the memories.

‘«™just another story from the Land of 1000 Dances‘«™

About Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on www.eastLArevue.com
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