Think "East L.A." and "rock and roll," and the first artist to come to mind — provided you haven't seen La Bamba lately — is probably Los Lobos. Understandable, but there have been plenty of other artists to emerge off Whittier Boulevard, from '60s garage-rockers Thee Midnighters to '90s roots vatos the Blazers. Now there's Los Fabulocos, featuring former Blazers Jesse Cuevas (vocals/accordion) and Mike Molina (drums), as well as guitarist Kid Ramos, who knows a thing or two about Texas from his eight-year stint in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. The quartet's self-titled 2008 album on Delta Groove is every bit as potent as its predecessors.
"It's a good mix," agreed Ramos last week, just before he left Southern California on the way to the four-year-old Fabulocos' first-ever Houston show Friday night.
Chatter: Were you a Blazers fan?
Kid Ramos: I was a Blazers fan. We did a few shows together; that's where I met Jesse and Mike. Big fan of theirs. [Ex-Blazers vocalist/guitarist Manuel Gonzalez] Big Manny's great. We do shows with him still.
C: Chicano rock bands, especially from East L.A., must have a hard time stepping out of Los Lobos' shadow. Is that true?
KR: I think there's always going to be some kind of comparison there, but, you know, Los Lobos has been well established for a long, long time. They have their own thing, and they've gone in some different directions. They're a stellar band, but I think we're coming from a little bit different thing.
C: L.A. is sort of on the western edge of the Tex-Mex sphere. What Texas artists is your band keyed into?
KR: Probably Doug Sahm quite a bit. And then all the conjunto music came from Texas, it's Texas music. It comes from the German influence — there's a lot of German people that settled in Mexico. Conjunto music and norteño music, the accordion, they're basically polkas, and then the Mexican people put their own taste to it.
C: I was a little surprised to read your singer is a big fan of Bakersfield country.
KR: That's James [bassist/vocalist Barrios]. He really likes Buck Owens, but he likes Hank Williams and a lot of other country artists [like] Jim Webb as well. We all have different styles, but it blends together really well.
C: Not many rock bands, Chicano or otherwise, use bajo sexto either.
KR: It works great. I picked it up when I first got in the band. Jesse had a bajo, and he says, "Hey, can you play bajo?" I said, "Well, I've never played it before," so I learned the basic stuff and just went from there. I'm still working on getting better at it, but it has a certain rhythmic texture to it you can't get from a regular guitar.
Congratulations to Dirty Honey DJ and former Houston Press music listings editor Brett Koshkin, who recently received an Idea Fund grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. Koshkin says he'll use the statewide grant, administered locally through arts organizations such as DiverseWorks, the Aurora Picture Show and Project Row Houses, to put together an exhibition of Houston soul and R&B artifacts including photographs, concert posters, written works and audio recordings (both interviews and music). "It really hasn't been done before," he says. "The magnitude of stuff that came out is jaw-dropping." Koshkin is seeking donations of both the financial and material nature; contact him at email@example.com or www.bayoucitysoul.com, the Web site he hopes to have up and running in another week or two.
1836 Richmond, 713-666-5555
1. Jailbreak, The Rocker (LP)
2. Various Artists, Electric Holyland (LP)
3. Beach House, Teen Dream (LP/CD)
4. Dark Funeral, Angelus Exoro (CD)
5. Circulatory System, Signal Morning (LP/CD)
6. Various Artists, Well Hung Vol. 1 (CD)
7. Ihsahn, After (CD)
8. Obituary, Live Xecution (DVD)
9. Barn Owl, The Conjurer (LP)
10. The Ex, 30 Years of The Ex (CD)
1. Train, "Hey Soul Sister"
2. Rob Thomas, "Someday"
3. Michael Bublé, "Haven't Met You Yet"
4. Kelly Clarkson, "Already Gone"
5. Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance"
6. Kings of Leon, "Sex on Fire"
7. Kris Allen, "Live Like We're Dying"
8. Daughtry, "Life After You"
9. Theory of a Deadman, "Not Meant To Be"
10. Uncle Kracker, "Smile"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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