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East L.A. Revue All Star Band:
The “Eastside Sound” of the 60s Lives

by Mark Guerrero

     The East L.A. Revue All Star Band is a musical group made up of a back up band with featured guest performers.  It’s the brainchild of Steven Chavez, who had grown up in East L.A., dancing to the music of the Eastside bands in the 60s.  In February of 2001, he attended a tribute concert for East L.A. manager/producer of the 60s, Billy Cardenas, organized by Chan Romero and yours truly. It featured my cover band (Hot Rox), The Premiers, Cannibal & the Headhunters, Chan Romero, and my dad, Lalo Guerrero.  This event inspired Steven to create a way to promote and perpetuate the Chicano music of East L.A.  He began by finding venues to present The Premiers and Cannibal & the Headhunters, backed by a band largely made up of musicians who were once part of the East L.A. music scene of the 1960s.  I attended the first such event on August 5, 2001 at the Zacatecas Restaurant in Riverside, California, which featured The Premiers, and Cannibal & the Headhunters.  After doing several of these events at various restaurants, parks, and dance halls, the idea came about of calling the band, with its featured vocalists and musicians, the East L.A. Revue All Star Band.  Chavez has featured artists such as singers Greg Esparza, a new member of Cannibal & the Headhunters, Hank Castro, a former lead singer of Thee Midniters, and others I will mention below.

     On June 22, 2003, I attended an East L.A. Revue All Star Band concert at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas, California.  The event, sponsored by the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, also featured Chico Vegas’ Drifters Tribute, Lloyd Price, and Jay and the Americans.  The master of ceremonies was the legendary disk jockey, Huggy Boy.  The East L.A. Revue All Star Band was made up of Jimmie Meza, formerly of the Atlantics, and Art Hernandez of the In Crowd, on guitar, Anthony Carrol on bass, Rene Flores on drums, Ray Ybarra on congas and percussion, George Gutierrez and Albert Barron on saxophone, Robert “Chickie” Garcia, formerly of the Counts, on trumpet, and Bertha Oropeza, Vanessa Oropeza (Bertha’s daughter), Judith Muro, and Maria Sandoval on background vocals.  Bertha, Judith, and Maria were also featured performers, along with Lawrence and John Perez of The Premiers, and Mickey Lespron of El Chicano on guitar.  It was a good show which truly captured the sound and atmosphere of the music played in East L.A. in the 1960s.  I know because I was part of the scene with my bands, Mark & the Escorts and the Men from S.O.U.N.D.  The East L.A. Revue All Star Band performed classic songs from the era such as “Huggie’s Bunnies” by The Romancers, “Last Night” by The Mar-Keys, and the ladies did a great job on “Ooh Poo Pa Do” by The Sisters, with Maria Sandoval on lead vocal.  Maria, a young and talented singer, was also featured on “Tell Mama” by Etta James and “Heat Wave" by Martha & the Vandellas.  She obviously loves singing and performing and it comes through to the audience.  Judith Muro was the featured vocalist on the all-time low rider classic, “Angel Baby” by Rosie and the Originals.”  The Premiers, Lawrence Perez on lead guitar and vocals and John Perez on drums and vocals, performed their 1964 hit record “Farmer John,” its flipside, the saxophone-featured instrumental, “Duffy’s Blues,” and the guitar-featured instrumental, “Get Your Baby.”  They also sang the r&b classic “So Fine” by the Fiestas, accompanied by the ladies.  Mickey Lespron of El Chicano came on next and played an instrumental by Freddy King called “Side Tracked” with Lawrence Perez, the guitarists taking turns and trading licks.  Mickey then performed El Chicano’s 1969 hit “Viva Tirado,” “Coming Home,” and an excellent new version of the classic Santo and Johnny instrumental, “Sleepwalk.”  This version will be part of El Chicano’s next CD release.  Bertha Oropeza closed the show with a soulful rendition of the classic ballad “Sabor a Mi,” backed by Mickey Lespron on guitar, and tore up the place with a rousing version of “I’m a Good Woman.”  She showed me she’s one of the great Chicana singers around, yet another major talent from the fertile musical landscape of East L.A.  (Bertha Oropeza was lead vocalist with East L.A.’s Eastside Connection in the 70s and is currently singing with the popular L.A. band, Chico.)

     Steven and I have discussed the possibility of my performing with the revue in the future.  After seeing this show, it looks like I would enjoy doing it.  This music is nostalgic, good time, good feeling music that’ll make you want to get up and dance.  I would perform only songs I recorded in the 60s with my band Mark & the Escorts and other songs from the era.  To do more current music would miss the point of the revue.  On Steven Chavez’ business card it says, “East L.A. Revue All Star Band:  True to the Eastside Sound.”  That’s what this revue is all about, doing the music authentically.  There is no attempt to update or modernize the music.  It’s done exactly as it was done in the 60s in East L.A.  I’m happy and grateful that Steven is doing what he’s doing to keep the classic “Eastside Sound” alive so it can be enjoyed by the people who experienced it the first time around, as well as the later generations who weren’t around when it happened.  Along with the books that have come out on the subject, the newspaper and magazine articles, the CD reissues, the documentaries being produced, and my website, the East L.A. Revue All Star Band is helping to insure that the music and artists of the 60s in East L.A. will not be forgotten.  If you are interested in booking the revue, contact Steven Chavez at: steven.chavez@verizon.net.  For more information visit Steven's website:  eastlarevue.com.

Mickey Lespron and Lawrence Perez


     On September 13, 2003, I played with The East L.A. Revue All Star Band at March Field in Riverside, California for the troops recently returned from Iraq.  The troops, along with their families, enjoyed an afternoon of music, food, and games.  I sat in to play guitar and sing on r&b classics "Nadine," "Knock On Wood," and "But It's Alright."  See the flyer below with the lineup.

     After a run of about five years, the East L.A. Revue disbanded.  They played uptown venues such as the House of Blues in Hollywood and B.B. King's at the Universal City Walk in Studio City, as well as many clubs, city parks, and dance halls on the Eastside of Los Angeles, including The Hop in Puente Hills and the Latin Oldies Festival in San Bernardino.  While they lasted, they spread the gospel of the music of the "Eastside Sound."  They brought back memories of the golden era to those who experienced it the first time around and introduced it to the younger generations.  Steven Chavez continues to do his part in keeping the legacy of the "Eastside Sound" alive as President of the Rampart Latino and Golden Treasures, with plans to reissue some of the classic recordings of the era.  HIs website eastlarevue.com is also an on line radio station with many radio personalities hosting show featuring Eastside Sound, Tejano, doo wop, salsa, and Latin jazz.  Steven Chavez is making a big contribution to the cause of the advancement of the "Eastside Sound" and Chicano music.

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Mark Guerrero
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Cathedral City, CA 92235

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