Monday, May 05, 2008
Cinco de Mayo - Viva Mexico, Viva la Raza
Black Randy performing as Mexican Randy, with Belinda Carlisle on backing vocals, 1978
Cinco de Mayo - the 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day - but it does celebrate and acknowledge a Mexican victory. On May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army kicked the French Army's ass at Puebla. Napoleon III had moved into Mexico in an attempt to rule it. A year later, the French did seize Mexico's government, but their reign lasted only a year before they were again ousted and the French-installed dictator (Maximilian) executed...
In the Mexican region of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated, but the rest of the country does not revere the date as much as Californians do. Californians have been celebrating Cinco de May continuously since the first anniversary of the battle at Puebla.
Culturally, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Hispanic/Latino heritage, and today's photo array tips the hat to the Mexican influence on LA punk rock.
Eddie Munoz, The Plimsouls
The guitar ace from Texas, Plimsoul Eddie Munoz
Pleasant and Kid Congo - Pleasant and I always thought that Kid looked like a Mayan God in these photos. Kid did not bring guitar chops to the Gun Club or The Cramps when he joined either band.
Kid had just learned how to play, taught and encouraged by Jeffrey Lee Pierce, himself a mestizo - half-breed/mixed race, part Mexican musical genius.
Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Viva la Raza!
Not pictured, but definitely not to be overlooked: the Escovedo brothers, Al and Javier, who played respectively in the Nuns and Zeroes, (aka The Mexican Ramones and The Plugz whose membership boasted Tito La Riva and Chalo Quintana. Tito later was a member of Los Cruzados, which included Quick songwriter and genius guitarist, another Mexican, Steve Hufsteter. Of the Punk Rock Ladies, Trudie Arguelles and Alice Bag were the queens of the Los Angeles punk rock scene, and to this day, two of its history's guardians and greatest diplomats. Alice Bag's website is a treasure trove of memories and memorabilia, and Trudie has rescued the late Herb Wrede's photos, and still lights up the LA scene. LA punk rock was made all the more unique by the contributions of Teresa Covarrubias and Rudy Medina of The Brat. While they do not play Thee Punk Rock, the gentlemen of Los Lobos grew up musically amidst the punk scene are another long standing and excellent representative of the influence of Mexicans in rock n roll.... and while we're at it, let us not forget to acknowledge Richie Valenz(uela) and the whole culture of La Bamba.
Still making noise in 2008: ? and the Mysterians who are playing impressive shows in clubs; Thee Midnighters who play the occasional show and whose compilation is available through the venerable Norton Records label.
The influence and impact and cultural contribution by Mexicans is enormous... it goes way beyond music and tequila, but if music & tequila are all you can muster today, make your music Mexican and spin a disk by anyone name-checked here.