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Radio Sombra Debut & The Future of Internet Radio In East L.A.

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, November 20, 2011 11:50pm | Post a Comment
Last Thursday, I took part in the debut of Radiosombra.org, a new Internet radio station based out of Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles. My show was one of several that debuts that night as part of a new collective. Among the debuts were The Tao Of Funkahuatl hosted legendary Ruben Funkahuatl Guevara, Art & Grooves, an aptly titled show by art curator and deejay Reyes Rodriguez. Another show is Merkado Negro, hosted by Nico from Los Poets Del Norte and DJ Libre. their show concentrates on everything underground in the real Eastside from subversive art and music to community –building projects. My personal favorite is the brilliant Heart Break Radio, hosted by Lady Imix from Imix Books. Just like the title insinuates, it's a collection of songs to cry yourself to sleep.

Discos Immigrantes is the name of my show. It will focus on the migration of records and people, which in some cases are quite similar. In future shows, I will have interviews from folks who have either immigrated to the U.S. or who are the product of immigration (i.e. first generation Americans) The show will focus on their stories and music they have brought with them, whether in the physical form or in their memories.

Radio Sombra is the brainchild of Marco Amador, a musician and long time community activist, who set up the station and for the time being, is financing the operation. I spoke to him briefly on why he felt the need to start an Internet station in the heart of East L.A.

What made you start this station?


I felt although the technology to start an Internet radio has been around for some time now, it was not something common in our neighborhood. Sure, people have access to join other Internet radio stations around Los Angeles and that is good, but we wanted to create radio programming that is unique to our community. I feel that it is important to have our own space, our own voice. Our goal is that our station would be defined by the community its in.

What was behind picking the hosts for the debut?

All the hosts are people have spaces for creativity or create great art themselves. The hosts have created spaces such as Imix Books and Tropical De Nopal, events such Eclectica and CaminArte, or in the case of Ruben Guevara, have been creating music and movements for decades. It is important to introduce them to the community that may not know them. The best thing about Internet radio is that it is worldwide, in a sense; we are introducing some of the most creative minds of our community to the rest of the world. I want to give a voice to those who have been doing great things in the community for a while. 

As you mentioned earlier, there are many great avenues for people to have radio shows in Los Angeles. Dublab.Com has been strong for 10 years. Killradio.Org opens its doors to new programming on a regular basis. Even KPFK 90.7, allows some sort of community programming. Why not them instead of starting another radio station?

Our primary objective is to make it available to people in the community of East Los Angeles and not only offer them the chance to broadcast but a space to create as well. Yes, you can find other avenues but you can’t find it in East Los Angeles, and that’s a problem. Most community programs offered in East L.A. are geared towards children, which is great, but what about adults? What avenues are given to artists or the community organizers to express themselves? There needs to be something for them as well. A way to express themselves artistically as well as socially. Some of the other progressive stations have an all-talk format throughout the day, with a few music shows at night. We want to have a balance of both. On top of that, Internet radio is great for learning to link with other community through out the world. Our voices will be globally as well as locally.

What is next for Radio Sombra?

We will continue to build our programming; we also will be broadcasting live from Eastside Luv on November 30th. It will be musical performances by some special surprise guests & myself. It will also feature DJ sets from our Radio Sombra DJs. That will be from 8 pm to 2 am. PST

Los Lobos at Amoeba Hollywood 8/25 Reviewed by Gomez Comes Alive

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, August 29, 2010 11:21pm | Post a Comment

I admit, even though I love Los Lobos now, it took me some time to get into them. When I wrote a blog about their album Los Angelenos - The Eastside Renaissance, I admitted that as a 15 year old, their music “was the kind of music that could be easily digested by the readers of Rolling Stone as being adventurous.” There was no way I could understand Los Lobos as a kid. They were adults. They were men who were married and had children. They had been part of the East Los music community for years by the time their records on Slash were released. Los Lobos isn’t one of those bands you grow up with. It’s a band you appreciate when you are older.

Sure enough, as I got older, I not only began to appreciate them, but I feel that now I fully understand them. Their lyrics had the same artistry as other Chicano visionaries such as writer Rudolfo Anaya or painter Patssi Valdez, coupled with their ability to make art that was both personal and universal. Hearing the song “La Pistola Y El Corazon” is like having a shot of tequila when heartbroken. "One Time One Night" makes me think of all the people I have lost. I saw my childhood in “Kiko And The Lavender Moon.” I saw my own past fly before my eyes in “Oh Yeah.”

This past week's event was Los Lobos’ third in-store appearance in nine years at Amoeba Hollywood. They started with “Burn It Down,” a song from their excellent new album, Tin Can Trust. The song has lots of Alt-Country flavoring with a blistering David Hidalgo guitar solo that was part Richard Thompson, part Thurston Moore. They followed it up with “Don’t Worry Baby” from Will The Wolf Survive? That song is an instant jump-up number that can get any crowd going. But it was the new songs, such as the title track, "Tin Can Trust," and the standout “Jupiter And The Moon,” a song with shades of Traffic’s “Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys” that shined the most. Those two songs easily fit with the other Lobos classics they played that night, such as “Will The Wolf Survive” and “Shakin' Shakin' Shakes.” They played two of Cesar Rosas' signature Cumbias, “Yo Canto” from the new album and “Cumbia De La Raza” from the album This Time. Both had many people dancing in the aisles to their East L.A. Cumbia rhythm.

David Hidalgo dedicated their cover of The Grateful Deads “West L.A. Fadeaway” to the 15th year anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death. Los Lobos toured with The Grateful Dead in the mid-eighties, a daunting task for any band due to the dedication Deadheads had for their beloved band. In a lot of ways, Los Lobos are more like the Grateful Dead than many of their knock-offs. For instance, the writing team of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter serves the same role as the Hidalgo/Perez team, and likewise with songwriters Cesar Rosas and Bob Weir. Rosas and Weir’s songs are the ones that everyone gets up to dance to. The Garcia/Hunter and Hidalgo/Perez team wrote all the songs that everyone quotes. Both bands have strong ties in roots music, The Dead with Bluegrass and Los Lobos with Traditional Mexican music. On top of that, each band has great musicianship, including two distinctive lead guitar players. The comparisons are so deep that even Robert Hunter has started collaborating with the Los Lobos of late.

Lastly, one of the best things said about The Grateful Dead was that they weren’t the best at what they did -- they were the only ones who did it. The same could be said about Los Lobos. Their blend of bilingual Classic Rock, Blues, Tex-Mex, Son Jarocho, Cumbia and East Los Soul rivals the eclecticism that The Dead brought into the world five decades earlier. Sure, there are many groups that may have one or two flavors of each band’s sound, but never the whole dish.

To see all the pictures from the Los Lobos instore, click here!

East L.A. Loves Derek Fisher!

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, June 12, 2009 02:52am | Post a Comment

I live about six blocks away from the corner of Atlantic and Whittier Blvd. Every time I drive under the Whittier Blvd sign I still hear the infamous “Let’s take a trip down...Whittier Blvd!” from Thee Midniters’ song in my head. I love East L.A. It’s my adopted city. It's like I was always meant to be here. I love the people, the stories, the history and I respect that I live here, I’m not from here. People in East L.A. are down for their Lakers. Los Angeles gets a bad rap as far as being a city of self-absorbed status-seeking phonies and fair-weathered fans to boot. Perhaps in the $1500 seats at The Staple Center, but if you want to see some true fans, head over to East L.A. (or for that matter, any Los Angeles barrio) and you will see true fans.

Tonight, right after the Lakers' victory and Derek Fisher’s amazing three point shots, some kids in the neighborhood got a little crazy and ran out on the corner of Atlantic and Whittier Blvd, shaking a few cars and generally scaring some people. The police showed up and the kids all ran home. I hope that no one got arrested or killed by the police. Would be ashamed to die over one’s love for a sports team. I guess maybe some knucklehead would think it would be an honor to die for their favorite team, but like that quote from Full Metal Jacket,

The dead only know one thing. It is better to be alive.”

So The Lakers stay alive, thanks to Derek Fisher. Wow, what a player! Do you know that Hedo Turkoglu was on the floor for both tonight’s game and Fisher’s infamous 0.4 second shot against The Spurs back in 2004? Tough luck for Turkoglu! Anyways, when the Lakers finally win this (and they will), I hope people in East Los don’t get all rat crazy! I hope everyone has fun, remains good sports, celebrates and stays alive.

Now, if East L.A. would get that riled up over our failing school system, we would really be the champions of Los Angeles. Derek Fisher has his degree already!

Imaginary Jukebox: Part 1

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 9, 2009 08:54am | Post a Comment

My friend Shin Miyata from Japan came to visit over the weekend. He wanted to go to a bar in East L.A. that he had never been to. After discussing a few that were "been there, done that" by Shin, we decided on a steakhouse/bar in Monterey Park called The Venice Room. We arrived just in time to hear someone sing a Karaoke version of Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” It was painful. It was so bad that Shin apologized to me on behalf of the Japanese people for creating Karaoke. The Venice Room looks like it was the place to be at one point. Now it seems like it has gone the way of many neighborhood bars in the area. People want sports, so it's ESPN on the T.V. screen the entire night. The décor of the place has been ruined by way too many beer advertisements. And then, there is Karaoke. On the plus side, at least it’s not some hipster joint. The Venice Room serves its purpose. It’s a neighborhood bar for neighborhood people. Drinks are cheap and I can choose to fall into the fun or go to another place for drinks. That night we chose to go to Ordoñez for some late night food since The Venice Room had stopped serving food.

The Venice Room reminded me of dive bars I used to hang out in when I had just turned twenty-one. Each one was a new experience. Some I liked and some I didn’t. Most of the time, the places I liked were dictated on the jukebox. My favorite places were the ones that still had the jukeboxes with the 45’s in them. With CD jukeboxes, there is always that person who will play an entire Doors album. Then you get stuck listening to them sing along with the whole thing and soon you wish the joint had Karaoke. With 45’s, you had the choice of side A or B of a single. It discourages the jukebox hogs. You can’t play the entire “Dark Side Of The Moon” album because it can’t fit on a 45. I got exposed to some great music by not having many choices. The limited choices forced you to listen to artists that normally you wouldn’t listen to. Even if you only played the artists that you liked, you would be forced to listen to the b-side of a single at some point.

If I ever opened a bar, I would bring back the 45 jukebox. No deejays, no iPods, no CD jukeboxes or Karaoke. A quarter a song and I would load it up with the best 45’s I can find. Until then, I’ll post my wish list on my blog from time to time.

Lalo Guerrero Y Sus Cinco Lobos- "Marihuana Boogie"



Delroy Wilson- "I'll Change My Style"



Sunny And The Sunliters- "Put Me In Jail"

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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