Early Life in the Land of 1000 Dances

CASA 0101 Theater's "The Eastside Heartbeats" brings back memories of a time almost forgotten, through 5/29/16

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: May 23, 2016

Early Life in the Land of 1000 Dances

Life is what it is ... some people live, survive and thrive by that realization, and some can't ... but it is a fact that is indisputable.

Another fact is that Art imitates Life.. and through Art, Life is thus reflected on a more palatable and educational portal that helps us accept the facts of life, regardless of the consequences.

Simply stated, we can accept & learn things, both good & bad, when we're watching from a distance as it happens to somebody else.

And if we're good to ourselves, we allow ourselves a little twinge of envy, a little taste of empathy, and a spoonful of understanding to embrace and enjoy the Arts, coming away with a learning and enlightening experience that deserves sharing.

That being said, I'm fortunate to share a recent experience at the CASA 0101 Theater in East Los Angeles that was historical, artistic, musical, and most of all, enjoyable.

CASA 0101's production of "THE EASTSIDE HEARTBEATS" is a fictional-musical-documentary stage play based on the life & times in East Los Angeles -- of one of Chicano Music's early groups Cannibal & The Headhunters -- who had the distinction of opening up for the Beatles in Los Angeles and New York during their 1965 U.S. tour ... which also put Chicano Rock & Rollers on the map just 6 years after the untimely death of Richie Valens.

With original music & lyrics by James Holvay (who wrote music & lyrics for The Buckinghams band), Rudy & Steve Salas (who wrote & performed music for East L.A.'s TIERRA) and music by music producer David Salas (who recorded and mastered the sound track). The play is alive and bouncy with all original songs, with music provided by a live band made up of Gary St. Germain, James Holvay, Christian Burrola,Chris Diaz, and Peter Zavalusic .

Written by Tom Waldman & David Reyes (authors of the best selling book "Land of 1000 Dances") the play tells the fictional story of Jimmy Ramirez and his 3 friends, all Mexican-Americans, who make up the group The East Side Heartbeats, a successful singing group who just can't bust out of East L.A. because of their race & Spanish surnames despite their uncanny talent.

"In writing this play, I wanted to reflect the vibrant and energy filled East Los Angeles music scene of the1960's, where young Mexican Americans saw Rock & Roll and Rythym & Blues music as a way to establish their own identity and rebel against their immigrant parents," Tom Waldman says.

"This is the story I've been wanting to tell for years...the way it was back in he 1960's. Not a lot of music groups made it out of East L.A. back in the day...and there was so much talent!", co-author David Reyes tells LatinoLA.

Catching the fun and musical energy of the 1960s, the play tells the story of a young Chicano whose love of American Rock & Roll, and his talent to perform it, crosses his Mexican-born father's disapproving path despite his local success.

During the first part of the play, with fun scenes at gigs and in local record stores, one is almost waiting for Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello to come on stage ... until the realities of the Viet Nam War, the Watts Riots of 1965, the resistance of 1st generation of American born Mexican Americans to take a back seat to anyone during the days of military draft, and the inevitable racism that prevents the Heartbeats from making the national scene hits you in the pit of the stomach ... and I heard a lot of "Awws" and"oohs" and "Uh-huh's" while sitting in the audience that stirred up some old memories from my childhood in East L.A. during these times.

One of the turning points in the play comes when Jimmy & the group confront their manager, (who is getting ready to drop them & stop promoting them) as to why they can't get any national gigs or gigs outside of East L.A. , and the manager has to tell them "Because you're Mexican.... and America isn't ready for Mexican singers singing in English!".

The ensuing song "This is How It Is In The Music Biz" really struck a note in my heart, as I recalled numerous stories I've been told by veteran Latino & Black music artists over many years about the inequities & racism in the American music industry, and their struggles to overcome and succeed.

...just when it seems all is lost and over for Jimmy & The East Side Heartbeats, and a painful truth comes out of Jimmy's father, a magic moment occurs after a one in a million phone call...

...and that's where you're going to have to see the play to get the rest of the story!

THE EASTSIDE HEARTBEATS, starring Kenneth Lopez, Marco Infante, Mathew Ramos, and Jesse Maldonado, a musical stage play YOU GOTTA GO SEE !!

Now performing at the CASA 0101 Theater until May 29th.

For tickets & info: www.Casa0101.org.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best, I give this play 5 stars & tacos!


About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone & The Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on World wide Internet Radio station www.eastLArevue.com
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