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L.A. Lesson # 1 - Echo Park/Silver Lake is Not the Eastside

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, October 3, 2007 07:09pm | Post a Comment
It drives me nuts when I ask someone where they live and they tell me, “The Eastside,” only to find out that they live in Echo Park or Silver Lake. Yes, I know. Echo Park is east of Hollywood, and despite what publications like the L.A. Weekly might tell you, Echo Park/Silver Lake Area (for that matter, downtown) is not “The Eastside.” That title is reserved for the communities east of the L.A. River, on the other side of the bridges. Areas such Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, City Terrace and Lincoln Heights have their own culture, history and mentality that is miles away from the rest of the Los Angeles. Many people that live west of East L.A. have never ventured past those bridges that connect downtown to the East L.A., even though it’s only a few short miles away. In fact, to me, calling the Echo Park/Silver Lake “The Eastside” is like calling Culver City the “Eastside” simply because it is east of Santa Monica.

Here’s a little helpful guide so that you might be able to tell the difference:

In Echo Park/Silver Lake, it's called Sunset Blvd.
In East Los, it's called Cesar Chavez Ave.
Echo Park/Silver Lake is 40.53% White
East Los is 96.80% Latino
Echo Park/Silver Lake gave us Tom Waits, Beck & The Silversun Pickups
East Los gave us The Midniters, Los Lobos and Ozomatli
Echo Park/Silver Lake was once the home of the Walt Disney Studios
East Los is considered “the mural capital of the world” behind Mexico City
Echo Park/Silver Lake has The Sunset Junction Festival, Cuban Festival & Lotus Festival
East Los has Dia De Los Muertos @ Self Help Graphics and Festival De La Gente
Echo Park/Silver Lake: Elliott Smith, voice of a generation, died in Echo Park
East Los: Rudy Salazar, voice of a generation, died in East L.A.
Echo Park/Silver Lake: Mi Vida Loca, Quinceanera
East Los: Blood In, Blood Out, American Me (don’t look at me Lil puppet….)
Echo Park/Silver Lake: Almost completely gentrified
East Los: On it’s way if they don’t fight it

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Goodbye Quetzal - At Least For Now

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 24, 2007 01:14am | Post a Comment

This was in the L.A. Times on September 8th. Another severely underrated Los Angeles band is gone, at least for now… I was fortunate to catch their last show at Macarthur Park before they quit. It was a good little fix until their eventual return. If you haven’t bought a copy of their last album, Die Cowboy Die, you are missing out on an East L.A. classic and one of the best albums that came out in 2006.

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Quetzal breaks for a busy sabbatical
By Agustin Gurza, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


Quetzal, the ground-breaking Chicano fusion band from East L.A., is on sabbatical. Bandleader Quetzal Flores and his wife, lead singer Martha González, left last week for a nine-month sojourn in Veracruz to study the work of women in son jarocho, the fabulous, Afro-folkloric music that has long inspired them. This is primarily Martha's mission. She received a Fulbright fellowship for the trip, which could yield a CD of original works by the women of the fandango scene. Afterward, she and Quetzal, with their toddler Sandino, are headed to Seattle, where she plans to enroll in the doctoral program for women's studies at the University of Washington.

Quetzal will be busy too. He plans to form an acoustic quartet with fellow guitarist Ramon Gutierrez-Hernandez of Son de Madera, one of Mexico's best new son jarocho groups. And he continues to produce for other bands, including the recently released CD by San Diego's B-Side Players and the upcoming album by L.A.'s Monte Carlo 76, with new vocalist Marisa Ronstadt.

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A Night Of Kinky Fun - Gil Cerezo @ Nativo!

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 24, 2007 12:08am | Post a Comment

Gil Cerezo, lead singer from the band Kinky, was the guest DJ at Nativo last Wednesday. After another great set from Mexican Dubweiser, Gil went on in front of a somewhat pensive crowd of Kinky fans and just tore it up. It was a straight-up Hollywood style party set, complete with mash-ups, classic party rock songs, Latin pop and techno-house blended with such ease. Soon people lost their inhibitions and filled the dance floor. I’m not a fan of 80’s music at all, but when Gil mixed the 80's Latin pop group Flans into Quiet Riot, he had me shaking my head in disgust yet still dancing. That’s a sign of great DJ -- someone who can get you up to dance to music you don't really like! Gil (pronounced Hill) had fun and plans do another set in the future at Nativo, so stay tuned! Nativo happens every Wednesday @ Zanzibar in Santa Monica, with resident DJs Sloe Poke, Mando Fever, Mexican Dubweiser and yours truly, Gomez Comes Alive!

Luis Alberto Spinetta - Argentine Astronaut

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 6, 2007 10:43am | Post a Comment
Every Argentino I’ve ever met has always goes on and on how their country has the best everything. The best beef, the best looking women, the best soccer team and the best music ever created, blah, blah, blah. All I can say about Argentineans is that they talk too much and sound funny when they do! Kidding aside, (It's a rite of passage for the rest of Latin America to make fun of Argentina) Argentina has provided some great music for the rest of the world. One of my favorites is someone who I’ve heard about for years but haven’t discovered until a few years ago. luis alberto spinetta

Luis Alberto Spinetta is a legend in his native Argentina and well respected by rockeros all over Latin America. He is hard to describe. A lazy comparison would be somewhere between Paul McCartney (Wings Era), Frank Zappa (as a musician, not as a satirist) and Andy Partridge from XTC. His lyrics are poetic and one can tell he is someone who is well read. You might not know what he is singing about unless you have read as much as Spinetta has. His career started in the late 60’s with a band called Almendra, who along with Los Gatos and Manal, were the pioneers of the Argentine rock movement. Almendra had a garage-psychedelic sound with some 60’s pop influences. They release three albums before they disbanded. Spinetta then started another group called Pescado Rabioso (Rabid Fish), which had a heavier sound, and lyrics that were influenced by writers such as Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud, Carlos Castaneda and Carl Jung. With his next group, Invisible. (Pronounced en-ve-see-blay) Spinetta developed a progressive rock style yet he wrote some of his best ballads, full of space and sparse notes.


After three albums with Invisible, Spinetta went solo. He dabbled in Jazz Fusion (Spinetta Jade) and made one album in English called, “Only Love Can Sustain” which flopped because it didn’t appeal to the Anglo market nor did it appeal to his fans, who saw it as a sell-out. After that, he continued to make music in Argentina and continued to be an artist to be reckoned with. His son, Dante Spinetta, was in a very popular band in the 90’s called Illya Kuryaki & Los Valderamos, who were legends in their own right.

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Los Lobos Live At The Santa Monica Pier 8/30

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 6, 2007 09:32am | Post a Comment
los lobos
Amoeba Records sponsored the Concerts On The Pier in Santa Monica that happened every Thursday during the months of July & August. Included in the series were Patti Smith, Plena Libre, Arrested Development and Junior Murvin, just to name a few. The series ended last Thursday with East L.A. heroes Los Lobos. Many of us that work at Amoeba volunteered to work at the Amoeba Booth that was to the left of the stage. We sold CD’s and T-Shirts and gave away discount coupons and various Amoeba swag. It was a great way to get away from the heat of Hollywood and work outdoors in the cool ocean breeze. Plus, there was the music! Los Lobos is one of my favorite bands, dating back to 1983 when I first heard "…And a Time to Dance." That night Los Lobos played many of my favorites, including "La Pistola y la Corazon," "Saint Behind The Glass," "Mas Y Mas," "Cumbia de la Raza," "Don’t Worry, Baby" and a volley of cover tunes such as "Cinnamon Girl," "Let’s Go," "Volver, Volver" and of course, "La Bamba."

The influence Los Lobos had on me when I was a kid was phenomenal. Back then to hear a band play Mexican music and rock on the same album was foreign to me. The Latin Rock artists at the time sounded more like bands from England then from their own country and it was understandable. When Rock music was still rebellious in America, it was even more so everywhere else. Most bands that sounded like their Anglo counter parts did it because they were tired of their parent’s culture being forced on them. Why would they want to play Mariachi, Corridos or Baladas? That was their parents' music. In the eighties, to sound like The Police was rebellious and for the young Latin Rock bands it was their own culture. With Los Lobos, both rock music and Mexican music was their culture. It was the first time I realized you could like both and not feel embarrassed by the other.
 
Side note: Los Lobos went to #1 on the Billboard charts with their version of “La Bamba.” Can you name two other Chicano artists to score #1 hit singles?

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