Chicano Rock & Land of a Thousand Dances

I love museum’s, big ones, dinky ones, modern, old, doesn’t matter. And I love music, oldies, newies, R & B, even some rap (my kids could not believe me when I played Eminem and Snoop Dog a few years ago) but back to the point. When a museum offers a historical look at music, culture, and language that’s all it takes for me to attend a function at my county museum.

Yesterday I attended “Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East Los Angeles,” produced by Jon Wilkman. I heard it played on PBS, but I must have missed it. Netflix also carries the documentary.

The film is based on the book, Land of A Thousand Dances by Tom Waldman and David Reyes. The cover is from artist George Yepes. The authors trace the history of Chicano music in Los Angeles from the legendary Lalo Guerrero, Cannibal and the Headhunters, to Tierra, Los Illegals, and Ozamatli.

La Serenta by George Yepes

For an hour I went down memory lane with the Oldies my cousins listened to: Richie Valens, Thee Midniters, Premier’s and others. Then we proceeded to the ELA marches, Brown Berets, and cruising. Yes, I was a cruiser, from Oxnard’s Saviers Road to Whitter Blvd. in Whitter and most towns in between. The music of Tierra, El Chicano, and Redbone blared on my cassette player.

The next era was new to me. I think I was still listening to Tierra, War, and a variety of other music when the Plugz, Los Illegals, and Brat entered the scene. Either that or I didn’t listen because it was punk. The book includes Quetzal, rappers Kid Frost and Lighter Shade of Brown from the early 90’s, but this has been left out of the documentary, possibly because the film was made in the 90’s and it took several years to complete.

The evening got me thinking of the Gen X and Y (or the Millennial’s as post 1985’ers are called) Although I tried to get my Y’s to attend they wouldn’t, even though they are music lovers. But their era is 1995 + and I don’t know if this generation is into the politics like El Chicano, Los Lobos, and Rage Against the Machine were.

I’d love to see a 3rd edition of the book “Land of A Thousand Dances,” which includes 1995 to 2010 as well as an updated “Chicano Rock.” But until then I’ll continue down memory lane, for the next week, as I play some of my favorites from “Chicano Rock!” on my jukebox. I hope you enjoy them and they bring back memories of your youth, your parents, or your older brothers/sisters. For me, they are the sound of from my barrio, back in the 70’s, and I loved reliving the era when I saw this film and read this book.



Categories: Authors, Chicano Music, Chicano Rock, Land of A Thousand Dances

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