Kickin' It With The Fellas

A casual meeting turns into a mini concert and trip back in time

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: May 15, 2003

Kickin' It With The Fellas

As an internet radio DJ, and one of the last in L.A. playing Oldies but Goodies that appeal to a large Chicano audience, I get a lot of calls & e-mails from listeners & event promoters regarding Oldies but Goodies music and the talented Artists that made the music we love.

Recently, I was contacted by some Gente up in Visalia, one of the last undisturbed bastions of Lowriding and Oldies, where cruising isn't a crime yet. They asked me about some of the artists I wrote about last fall in LatinoLA.com (A Musical Tribute to East LA at http://latinola.com/story.php?story=538) Cannibal & the Headhunters (pictured) and The East L.A.Revue All-Stars. I described the ambience, music & good time I, along with about a thousand others, had listening and dancing to some firme music at the East L.A.-Boyle Heights tribute concert held in Los Angeles.

The Gente up north were obviously impressed, and are planning a large festival/concert of their own sometime this fall, and inquired about making contact with some of the artists. Through friends and contacts, I was able to hook up with Steve Chavez, who by a stroke of luck, happens to be the promoter of both The Headhunters & The East L.A. Revue All-Stars.

As anybody who has worked in and around the music business knows, some promoters and artists can be a bit stand-offish, aloof, difficult and just a plain old pain-in-the-ass to work and communicate with. Not so with Steve. We made phone contact and he invited me over to a rehearsal of the East L.A. Revue All Stars in San Gabriel that very week. I was impressed at how comfortable he made me feel, and the invitation was one I gladly accepted. His enthusiasm and knowlege of music was also impressive. As we say in the 'hood: "Vato knows his shit." Real nice guy, too.

The All Stars rehearse at the garage of legendary guitarist Art Hernandez, formerly of the group Thee In Crowd. Art maintains a private, virtual Chicano music museum, and to the lucky few who have ever been there, it is a true monument of love to Chicano Rock 'n Roll. As the All Stars -- who are comprised of artists from groups like Thee In Crowd, The Atlantics, Sly, Slick & the Wicked, Blendells and The Jaguars -- assembled at the garage to set up and begin rehearsal, we were casually introduced, and they invited me to join them for some pizza and cokes. Real classy guys with good attitudes, I had a chance to briefly interview each of them, and they gladly shared some music history, and expressed their love of the Raza and their music. I felt I was sitting among greatness. Sadly, some of these guys were cut short in the prime of their music careers by the draft during the Viet Nam war.

Steve Chavez has done a wonderful job reassembling these great artists of the past, and has put together a band that has a unique, polished sound with a touch of "garage band" familiarity so desired by Oldies affectionados.

As Steve and I stepped out into the warm San Gabriel afternoon, with the sun going down and the San Gabriel Mission in the background, the All Stars went through their paces as easily as someone making a sandwich. The cool breeze of the San Gabriel evening, and the sweet sound of the band playing "Where Lovers Go" brought back a tingle in me I haven't felt since high school. That "something exciting is gonna happen soon" feeling we all felt on Friday afternoons back in the day.

These guys are back and better than ever. I highly recommend you catch their act whenever you can. You won't be disappointed, Mi Gente.

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme spins the finest Oldies but goodies on the World Wide Web every Thursday on www.KCLAFM.com, live at 6:00pm, L.A. time. The East L.A. revue All Stars can be reached at: http://www.eastLArevue.com (909) 653-7777 or (909) 897-7705

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