Friday, March 27, 2020

HITN Launches Content and Services to Help Hispanic Families Cope with the Coronavirus Threat

BROOKLYN, N.Y.--HITN announced that it has launched a full-scale effort to provide Hispanic families with information, resources and services that may help them navigate through the COVID-19 global pandemic. These efforts are led by HITN’s health and wellness brand, Vida y Salud, and include information on its website, daily television block, newsletters and social media accounts. In addition, HITN Television is broadcasting special messages and public service announcements throughout its programming.

“The most useful and practical thing that we can do as a multimedia company is to raise awareness and provide content and services that help keep our audience and their families safe, informed and even entertained in these difficult times of uncertainty and fear,” said Guillermo Sierra, Head of Television and Digital Services at HITN.

The first part of the campaign is the adoption of the #YoMeQuedoEnCasa (“I’m staying home”) campaign. Through this simple message, adapted from the viral European experience, HITN is continuously reminding viewers that the best way to reduce the transmission of the virus is staying at home and avoiding physical social interaction.

To maintain viewers informed about the progression of the emergency, HITN has partnered with The Health Channel (a South Florida PBS service) to produce daily news briefs that are broadcast at the top of the hour, every hour, during primetime. The reports called “ Coronavirus en Tiempo Real ” (Coronavirus in real-time), are also shared with national Hispanic cable networks Vme and Mexicanal, and through several digital outlets.

The site has also created a robust microsite that provides the latest information and recommendations from the CDC about the condition and its management in Spanish-language. The site is complemented by newsletters sent directly to the subscribers’ emails and by several daily posts in social media. For Latin America, is also offering a free live chat with medical experts and psychologists who provide users with general information that may help them respond about the situation.

“HITN has activated all of its digital properties to provide information and guidance during these critical times. Our high levels of reach and position are allowing us to connect with the audience in an active and meaningful way”, said Maximiliano Vaccaro, Vice President of Digital Services for HITN.

In addition, HITN.TV, the channel’s website, is offering special content dedicated to helping viewers stay active and relaxed while at home or under quarantine, including exercise, yoga, and meditation programs, as well as creative ideas that include activities to do with the whole family without leaving home.

“It is quite evident that our viewers have heeded the #YoMeQuedoEnCasa call and are enjoying the high-quality programming HITN offers Hispanic families. This adds up to what we have been observing over the last several months, where the network’s numbers have been on a consistent uptrend, week after week out-performing itself, delivering the highest Total day numbers HITN has seen in the history of its measurement, especially during Prime time. With top programs like Al Descubierto, Tesoros de Asia, Mundo Salvaje con Ron Magill, Centro Médico, and Historia de la vida, among many more, Hispanic families continue to prove that HITN is the network of choice for entertaining and educational content in Spanish,” said Erika Vogt-Lowell, Director of Programming and Acquisitions for HITN.

For more information on HITN’s coronavirus campaign visit:

HITN-TV is a leading Spanish-language media company that offers educational and cultural programming for the whole family. It reaches more than 44 million viewers in the US and Puerto Rico via DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse TV, Verizon FiOS TV, Comcast, Charter Spectrum, Mediacom, CenturyLink Prism and Altice. For more information, please visit

Friday, March 20, 2020

EstrellaTV Expands News Coverage with “Noticiero EstrellaTV: Reportaje Especial, Coronavirus la Pandemia con Mirthala Salinas”

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar 18, 2020--

EstrellaTV, a leading Spanish-language broadcasting network in the U.S., announced today that it has launched expanded news coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic, including a one-hour newscast “Noticiero EstrellaTV: Reportaje Especial, Coronavirus la Pandemia con Mirthala Salinas,”(Noticiero EstrellaTV: Special Report, The Coronavirus Pandemic with Mirthala Salinas)effective Monday, March 16, 2020.

This new national newscast, hosted by lead network anchor Mirthala Salinas, is dedicated to coverage of the pandemic as part of EstrellaTV’s efforts to provide the most up-to-date news content for the Hispanic community in the U.S. The one-hour show, which airs M-F at 4P/3P CT, offers minute-by-minute information as it relates to the national health crisis and its impact on the Hispanic community.

EstrellaTV’s expanded news coverage also includes three new national news shows M-F at 12P/11A CT, 4P/3P CT and 9P/8P CT, which will be in addition to the network’s regularly scheduled Noticiero EstrellaTV at 5:30P/4:30P CT and Cierre de Edición at 10:30P/9:30P CT, as well as local newscasts in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, and Miami. The network is also making its news content available on its social and digital media platforms.

According to Salinas, who also serves as EstrellaTV’s VP of News, “Our extended coverage will feature experts from the medical, financial and government sectors from across the country and will provide our viewers the most up to date information regarding preventing the spread of the virus, keeping their families safe and healthy, coping with the changes in their day-to-day lives, and highlighting stories that are relevant to our community.” EstrellaTV is committed to continuing to serve the Hispanic community in this time of uncertainty and keeping the community updated with the latest facts and instructions issued by the CDC and Federal, state, and local officials.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Over 1,500 Prom Dresses Will Be Given Away To High School Students

On February 8, 2020, the Vida de Oro Foundation will be giving away prom dresses for the second year in a row, but this year it will include young men’s attire as well.

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Vida de Oro Foundation, a public benefit nonprofit organization, has been informed by Quota International of Oroville and, that they will be contributing 1,700 prom dresses and some new shoes for this year’s prom dress giveaway.

Established in 2016 and best known for producing the annual Sacramento Taco Festival, the Vida de Oro Foundation received over 600 prom dresses last year that were saved from the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, California. With the help of the media and Sacramento Councilmembers Angelique Ashby and Allen Warren, the Foundation gave away over 500 dresses to young women representing 73 different schools from throughout Sacramento and as far away as Fresno, Oakland, and Corning, California.

“This event creates an opportunity for young women to participate in a very important passage of life, attending their Prom,” says Mina Perez, President/CEO of the Vida de Oro Foundation. “And last year we had many requests from young men, but we were not set up to provide them suits. This year with donations from Armando Flores and CAFFE, and Sacramento KIWANAS we’ll be able to include young men.”

The dresses, which vary in sizes, are donated under the condition that they be given away and not sold. With the assistance of U-HAUL, the dresses and suits will be given away at the former Wonder Bread building located at 1324 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA.

“All students need to be accompanied by a parent or responsible guardian and be attending a high school,” adds Perez. “I firmly believe as this is an American Tradition and no student should be left out from attending their Prom because they did not have the right formal attire.”

Anyone interested in learning more about this giveaway can visit us at or email us at

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Ed Goldman: Vida De Oro puts focus on opening doors for Latino artists, artists-to-be and community

By Ed Goldman – Contributing columnist
Aug 12, 2019, 11:30am EDT

Mina Perez, the founder and executive director of nonprofit arts group The Via de Oro Foundation, doesn’t let a little thing stop her, like currently lacking an office in which to hold a meeting. Accordingly, when I meet with her last week, she drives up in a van that contains not only Adrian — her husband of 36 years and “partner-in-everything,” as he says with a grin — but also a folding table and chairs, tablecloth, bottles of water, a bag of chocolate chip cookies and a new box of crayons “just for you.” She says it with a maternal smile that makes me feel like I’m 7 years old again.

The couple sets up our alfresco conference room in a shady spot behind the old Wonder Bread/Hostess plant on Arden Way, which was bought by U-Haul several years ago and converted into storage facilities. “U-Haul is building our new offices,” Adrian Perez says. The DIY hauling and storage firm “likes being involved in local communities,” he adds.

Vida de Oro, which Mina Perez says can be translated as "golden life" or "golden path," has been otherwise carving its own way through the wilderness of regional arts nonprofits since its founding 11 years ago. “My goal was to remove stereotypes and stigmas often associated with Latino arts,” she says. The premier Vida de Oro Folk Art Festival was held in 2009. “It attracted artists, artisans, poets, performers and food vendors,” she says. Five more folk festivals were held in ensuing years. “We drew an average of 1,500 visitors to each event,” she says. The festival then disappeared for a year and returned as the Sacramento Taco Festival. Its fifth iteration under its new name was held on the grounds of the U Haul campus this past June.

Adrian and Mina Perez of The Vida de Oro Foundation
Vida de Oro also made a foray into this year’s Wide Open Walls mural competition — and on Aug. 17, from 1 to 4 p.m., it will be working with the downtown Sacramento Macy's store on a back-to-school promotion, during which customers spending $75 or more will receive gift boxes assembled by the Perezes. The boxes “will have pencils, crayons, tape” and other traditional, possibly even quaint, classroom and craft supplies.

The Perezes are both retired state employees and both 63 years old. Mina Perez has been an artist all of her life. She volunteered as a library assistant in the Sacramento Public Library’s branch in Del Paso Heights, where the couple, who had made their home in North Natomas, now live, “having raised five kids who we encouraged to spread their wings,” she says with undisguised joy. At the library, Perez helped youngsters from the underserved area discover their creative side. “Teachers did that for me when I was young,” she says.

Recently, Vida de Oro took on one of its larger-scale community efforts: It was offered prom dresses for distribution to families who couldn’t afford them, by Quota International — a worldwide service organization that helps women, children and the deaf — if the Perezes would come to Chico, where a clothing store had been severely damaged by fires in April 2018, to pick them up.

“We expected, what, maybe 45 dresses,” Mina Perez says. “Instead, there were 700 waiting for us!” The couple put the dresses in storage, courtesy U-Haul, “which built four 15-foot-long racks,” she says. Last Feb. 2 — “a rainy day no one should have been out in” — grateful recipients drove “from as far away as Fresno, San Jose and Colusa, representing kids from 73 schools,” to pick out their formals. “Some of the art we do at Via de Oro is simply giving back to the community,” Adrian Perez says.

Yes, but don’t forget those crayons and cookies.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Crocker Art Museum to do 4-month exhibit of Chicano work

Exhibition: Testament of the Spirit: Paintings by Eduardo Carrillo (Testamento del espíritu: Pinturas de Eduardo Carrillo)
Venue: Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street, Sacramento, CA
Dates: June 24 – October 7, 2018

Above: Eduardo Carrillo, Testament of the Holy Spirit, 1971.Oil on panel, 47 3/4 x 60 in.
Crocker Art Museum Purchase with funds from the Maude T. Pook Acquisition Fund, 1972.24
Sacramento, Calif. – In June 2018, the Crocker Art Museum will bring to Sacramento an expansive exhibition of works by Eduardo Carrillo, a painter, teacher, and social activist known for advancing recognition of Chicano art and culture in California. His large-scale oil paintings have been described as mystical, surreal, and visionary, while his intimate watercolors reflect the artist’s daily life in self-portraits, still lifes, and images of people and places he held dear. Testament of the Spirit: Paintings by Eduardo Carrillo (Testamento del espíritu: Pinturas de Eduardo Carrillo) reflects on the artist’s relationship to his native California as well as to his Mexican heritage, his early religious upbringing, and the European tradition of art.
Eduardo Carrillo, Self Portrait, 1960 Oil on canvas, 84 x 132 in. 
Crocker Art Museum, Promised Gift of Juliette Carrillo and Ruben Carrillo.
This bilingual exhibition features more than 60 paintings and watercolors spanning nearly four decades of the artist’s production, from the late 1950s through the late 1990s. Works on view include a promised gift to the Crocker by members of the Carrillo family, as well as two works in the Crocker’s permanent collection.
Stated the Museum’s Executive Director and CEO, Lial Jones, "It is no coincidence that our exhibition title comes from the painting Testament of the Holy Spirit, which Eduardo Carrillo painted in his Sacramento home, and was acquired by the Crocker in the 1970s. We have long collected and exhibited works of art that reflect the diversity of our community, and I am pleased that we are able to present an entire exhibition of Carrillo's work, and highlight a bit of Sacramento's Chicano history."
Born in Santa Monica, California, Eduardo Carrillo (1937–1997) grew up in Los Angeles. In 1960, he studied for a year at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, where he also assisted with the restoration of a church altar. As he immersed himself in studies of the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, Giorgio de Chirico, El Greco, Diego Velázquez, and other European artists at the Museo del Prado, Carrillo found life-long inspiration that informed his own style and sense of aesthetics.
Eduardo Carrillo, Las Tropicanas, 1972–73. Oil on panel, 84 x 132 in.
Crocker Art Museum, Promised Gift of Juliette Carrillo and Ruben Carrillo.
After returning to the U.S. and earning a BFA (1962) and MFA (1964) from the University of California, Los Angeles, Carrillo taught at the University of California, San Diego’s extension program. He then moved to his paternal ancestral home in Baja, where he and his first wife, Sheila, founded El Centro Regional de Arte in La Paz, to help revive the area’s local art traditions. He returned to the U.S. in 1969, and joined the Chicano civil rights movement El Movimiento, advancing to the forefront of the cause. During this time, Carrillo collaborated with three other artists to complete the nine-paneled Chicano History (1970) for the Chicano Studies Research Center at University of California, Los Angeles—the first Chicano history mural to be painted at a university in the United States. After the violent events of the Chicano Moratorium of August 1970 in Los Angeles, Carrillo moved to Northern California to accept a teaching position at California State University, Sacramento, and was involved briefly in the Royal Chicano Air Force, an artists’ collective.
Said Crocker Art Museum Associate Curator Kristina Gilmore:
“Carrillo’s time in Sacramento was brief—just two years—but was truly a turning point, as it coincided with his growing interest in Chicano art and political activism. He took these passions with him to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he introduced Chicano art into the curriculum and organized Chicano events and festivals."
In the early 1980s, working with Philip Brookman and Tomás Ybarra Frausto, he organized and directed the multiyear, statewide initiative, Califas: Chicano Art and Culture in California. This groundbreaking conference included lectures, exhibitions, oral histories, videos, workshops, and performances. The landmark event continues to inform and influence the way Chicano art and culture are considered and presented, just as Carrillo’s art sustains connection and continues to inspire.
Eduardo Carrillo, Untitled (Still Life with Santo Niño Candle), 1989.
Watercolor on paper, 15 1/4 x 11 1/4 in. Private collection, Davis, California.
“As seen in his artwork, teaching, and social activism, Carrillo never walked away from efforts to eliminate the racism that spurred the civil rights movement,” said Guest Curator Susan Leask. “He was an inspirational leader and visionary with ability to bring people together in collaborative and efficacious ways, as he addressed racism and injustice throughout his career. He was very passionate about creating programs and platforms that promoted greater awareness of Latin American culture, aesthetics, and social concerns, and that passion can be seen in his art.”
As this exhibition highlights the artist’s creative efforts and social importance, it features work created for three distinct realms: public, private, and museum. Viewers may see evidence of Carrillo’s appreciation for Renaissance and Baroque art, pre-conquest sculpture, and the artists and culture of Baja California, Mexico.
“Eduardo was beloved by all who were lucky enough to know him personally—he had a puckish sense of humor that is evident in many of his paintings," said Gilmore. I think visitors will have a great experience, especially those who take the time to look closely. In his larger works, they’ll find bold color and mysterious, dreamlike imagery, with frequent references to the history of art—like visual riddles. On the other hand, his smaller watercolors are often more subtle and down-to-earth; they offer a glimpse into Eduardo’s own life and charm.”
A bilingual video by Pedro Pablo Celedón, “Eduardo Carrillo: A Life of Engagement”, will be on view in the exhibition. Wall text describing the art and the artist, as well as labels for the individual works on view in the exhibition, will be offered in both English and Spanish. 
Testament of the Spirit: Paintings by Eduardo Carrillo (Testamento del espíritu: Pinturas de Eduardo Carrillo) is organized by Crocker Art Museum and curated by Guest Curator Susan Leask. It will be on view at the Crocker Art Museum June 24 – October 7, 2018.
This exhibition is accompanied by a full-color, bilingual catalogue with contributions by exhibition guest curator Susan Leask, Philip Brookman, Gilberto Cárdenas, Maureen Davidson, Michael Duncan, Tim Drescher, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Tere Romo, and Christina Waters. The catalogue will be available for purchase in the Crocker Art Museum Store.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sacramento Songwriters Showcase to Feature Performances

Songwriters perform original music at a free showcase, performances to be presented in South Sacramento
Sacramento, California - The Sacramento Songwriter Showcase will feature upcoming and established songwriters performing original music at a free showcase to the greater South Sacramento community public.
Each showcase presentation will featuring the hosting band and local songwriters & guest artists, each presenting a live 20-30 minute set of original Latin music and bilingual compositions in theater stage setting.
Hosted by Frank Lizarraga, Yesenia Fuentes and Ritmoz Latinoz band members with a grant by Creative Economy Pilot Program Grant Award.
March 29th 2018
Dinorah, RITMOZ Latinoz & Xochitl
Sound by DJ Bobby L
La Familia Maple Neighborhood Center
3301 37th Avenue Sacramento CA 95824
Supported by
La Familia Counseling Center, Caballo Mexican Restaurant
Franklin Boulevard Business Association
and Sacramento Presents
For information contact: Frank or Yesenia

Friday, May 19, 2017

Taco Festival will feature two of Sacramento's Best!

The 4th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival will feature Kings’ Dancer Isela Perez as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the day’s event, and Comedian Stephen B will Emcee the Chihuahua Beauty Contest.

Kings Dancer/Festival MC Isela Perez
SACRAMENTO, CA – Sacramento Taco Festival organizers have announced that this year’s main stage will feature King’s dancer and local entrepreneur Isela Perez, while top local comedian Stephen B will be special Emcee for the Chihuahua Beauty Contest portion of the day’s events.

Isela has been a Game Night Emcee for the Sacramento Kings, now in her fifth season as a Sacramento Kings Dancer. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento with a degree in Journalism, Isela boasts over 18 years experience in various dance styles including jazz funk, hip hop, lyrical jazz and ballet folkorico. In 2015, following her fourth season with the Kings Dancers, she relocated to Nicaragua for six months and continued to work remotely as a journalist for her family business, Latino Journal magazine. Upon her return home, she sought to continue her exposure to Latin America’s vibrant culture and joined Calidanza, a local Mexican folkloric dance company. In addition, she refocused on professional dance and created FemDANCE, Sacramento’s only choreography class and training space designed for aspiring and current pro-dancers. Isela’s dedication to performing arts, media and community advancement led her to co-creating Obra, a local innovative business combining creativity, art and technology.

Stephen B is a Sacramento stand-up comedian with more than 34 years of experience performing in
Comedian Stephen B
comedy clubs, corporate clients, and churches nationwide. He’s opened up for Julio Iglesias, Michael Bolton, Weird Al and a host of other headlining musical acts over the years. He’s performed at Spirit West Coast and on the KLOVE Cruise and is the author of the book: The Road to Selfdom available on Amazon and through CrossLink publishing. Chihuahua Beauty Contest coordinator Larry Groves says “imaging...a stand-up comedian with 20 Chihuahuas in costume, laughs and fun for all!”

The Sacramento Taco Festival will be held on Del Paso Boulevard between El Camino Avenue and Arden Way, on June 3rd from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, and cohosted by City Council Member Allen W. Warren and the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership. Go to for additional information and tickets.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


MASA Guiseria
The 4th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival is all about The Tacos!

SACRAMENTO, CA – Listed as the “first party of the summer” by Lyon’s Real Estate Guide, the Sacramento Taco Festival is featuring a huge variety of tacos from typical to tropical in a unique setting like no other event in Northern California.

This year’s vendors include some from last year’s festival and many new ones who learned of this wonderful event dedicated to tacos.

“Everybody loves tacos,” says Mina Perez, the Sacramento Taco Festival’s coordinator and cofounder. “We have returning vendors like JimBoys Tacos, MASA Guiseria and Azteca Street Tacos, and we also have newcomers like Texas Street Tacos, Louisiana Heaven, and Kado’s Asian Grill.”

The Festival, which is held on Del Paso Boulevard between El Camino Avenue and Arden Way, is celebrating its fourth year and co-hosted by City Council Member Allen W. Warren. It is filled with continuous live entertainment, arts and crafts, kids activities, desserts, informational booths, and a beer garden.

“Our community is one of the most diverse in terms of ethnicity and culture in the nation,” says
Council Member Warren who also serves as the Chair of the Festival. “The Taco Festival is an event that brings us all together to share a food we all enjoy.”

The 4th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival is planned for Saturday, June 3rd, from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. Admission is $10 per person, children 10 and under enters free. Taco prices and drinks are not included in the admission fee.

Friday, March 3, 2017

TEATRO ESPEJO PRESENTS: "Welcome to Arroyo’s"

A hip-hop theatre coming-of-age story by Pulitizer Prize finalist, Kristoffer Diaz

March 17 – April 9, 2017 California Stage, Sacramento, CA
Preview: Friday, March 17, 2017
Opening Night: Saturday, March 18, 2017

SACRAMENTO, CA – Teatro Espejo, Sacramento’s longest running Latino theatre company, opens their production of Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz on March 18, 2017, with a preview on March 17. The play runs through April 9 at California Stage. Welcome to Arroyo’s is a modern-day tale of love, loss and family bonds told through a lens of hiphop and youthful energy.

Alejandro Arroyo owns the newest (and cleanest) bar in New York City's Lower East Side. He insists it’s a “lounge” and works non-stop to try to make it the hottest spot in the LES. His younger sister, Molly, has a nasty habit of writing graffiti on the back wall of the local police precinct. Officer Derek, a recent NYC transplant with something to prove, has a series of run-ins with Molly. Lelly Santiago, a socially awkward college student who calls herself “a nerdy little Puerto Rican girl,” may have discovered that the Arroyo siblings' late mother was one of the founders of hip-hop music.

Two fresh and funny DJs, who call themselves the “TripNel Cartel” – a play on words off their real names – and who Diaz uses as narrators in the style of a Greek chorus, spin the story, rewind scenes, and create community in this hip-hop theater coming-of-age story.

New York playwright Diaz was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, which won a 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play. Welcome to Arroyo’s, one of his early plays, is an homage to hip-hop that daringly writes women into the narrative of the foundations of hip-hop.

The play has a feminist bent, with a talented female graffiti artist whose late mother may hold a significant place in hip-hop history; and a highly enthused female grad student, whose love for (and research about) hip-hop has no boundaries.

The play is directed by Nicole C. Limón a long time member of Teatro Espejo. Music direction is by Adam Freas, with Mike Brim and DJ Jonathan Reyes of local hip-hop education organization, The Low End Theory Collaborative. The cast includes Ruben Oriol-Rivera as Alejandro Arroyo, Jezabel Olivares as Molly Arroyo, Bardo Gonzalez as Trip Goldstein, Ike Torres as Nelson Cardenal, Devin Valdez as Lelly Santiago, and Rhett Richardson as Officer Derek.

Welcome to Arroyo’s is produced by Teatro Espejo, Manuel José Pickett, Artistic Director.
March 17 –April 9, 2017 Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm Sundays at 2pm California Stage, 2509 R Street, Sacramento
Tickets: $20 General, $15 Seniors/Students with I.D. (Tickets for March 17 Preview, $12.50) Group Sales of 10+ contact:

Friday, March 4, 2016

'We Like It Like That' Documentary Now Available

We kept hearing, 'Before Latin boogaloo, I wasn't really into Latin music. It was my parents' music.' - Mathew Ramirez Warren
If you were a child in the 1960s, you're probably familiar with Latin boogaloo. It was one of the countless music crazes that defined the decade.  But for many Hispanic people — then and now — it was much more than just a fad. It was an entry point to defining their unique identity in Canada and the U.S.

The genre's rise and fall is the subject of a new documentary called We Like It Like That. Director Mathew Ramirez Warren talks to Shad about the film and how boogaloo helped shape the American identity of Latin youth.   

We Like It Like That is a feature-length documentary film about Latin boogaloo, a colorful expression of 1960s Latino soul, straight from the streets of New York City.  Starring Latin boogaloo legends like Joe Bataan, Johnny Colon and Pete Rodriguez, We Like It Like That explores this lesser-known, but pivotal moment in Latin music history through original interviews, music recordings, live performances, dancing and rare archival footage and images.  From its origins to its recent resurgence, it is the story of a sound that redefined a generation and was too funky to keep down.  For more information on the film go to

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Story of a Mexican American Musical Icon

by Adrian Perez

     Whether you’re Latino or not, if you enjoy Tex-Mex music, you’ve probably heard of Little Joe Y La Familia, the Grammy Award winning band that fused traditional Mexican, salsa, rock and roll, jazz and country western music to create a new revolutionary sound.  Initially established as Little Joe and the Latinaires in the early 1960s, the band’s image and sound changed over the years, leading to a name change as well to Little Joe Y La Familia.  Fronted by Jose Maria (Little Joe) Hernandez and his younger brother Juan (Johnny) Hernandez, the band offered a powerful sound with lead vocals and harmonics that resulted in a string of hits.  The combined musical and business talents of the brothers catapulted them from the cotton fields of Texas to international music stages where tens of thousands of fans cheered their performances.  Having reached a success of legendary status, what happened that split this musical dynamic duo?

     Many have said that Little Joe Y La Familia reached their musical peek in the late 1970s with their international mega hit “Las Nubes,” when rumors started about the band breaking up.  Some believed it was jealousy among siblings that led to the band’s fall, while others thought it was excessive use of illicit drugs.  Now, through the autobiography “The Cotton Picker – An Odyssey” by Johnny Hernandez, the myths and rumors of the Band’s breakup are told.

     This well written book takes the reader through several decades from the hardship of being born and raised in central Texas where many Mexican American families followed the cotton-picking season, through the pressures and excesses of being a musical star.  Johnny’s depiction of growing up in Temple, Texas, as a cotton-picker, will resonate with many former farmworkers whose working days usually started with the smell of fresh made flour tortillas.  Others will quickly relate to the experience of going to public school and facing a combination of discrimination and bullying, forcing Mexican Americans to band together for protection and survival.  However, perhaps it's Johnny’s telling of the respect and love he had for his family and friends as a preteen, a teenager and as an adult that makes his story extra unique.

     As he tells it, singing is what kept Johnny going when working the cotton fields during Texas’ hot and humid summers.  He often daydreamed that someday he would be performing on a stage in front of hundreds of cheering fans.  That dream almost did not become a reality because of Johnny's rebellious tendencies, which got him into legal trouble, had him drop out of school, and marry by age 16.  It was after getting married that Johnny began to learn the hard lessons of life, taking on various jobs to earn a living for him and his wife. 

     There were many people who entered Johnny’s life that slowly helped turn him around from his rebellious ways.  However, none was more influential than his brother Jesse, who had convinced Little Joe to make Johnny a part of Little Joe and the Latinaires.  It was brilliant move by Jesse, who was convinced the group was headed to stardom.  After recording their first major hit, “Por Un Amor,” Little Joe, Johnny and the Latinaires also hit the road for performances across Texas.  Unfortunately, Jesse was killed in a car accident before he could see his brothers reach the heights of their musical success.

     After releasing a string of hit songs, Little Joe moved the band to California where they discovered new musical sounds and performed with popular acts like MALO and Tower of Power.  During the late 60s and early 70s, the look and feel of the band fit in with the sounds and styles being created by Bay Area bands, winning over thousands of new fans, especially when they broke out with Tex-Mex music.  Johnny was also getting more solo singing opportunities, not only recording, but writing as well.  During this time, he also met and became friends with many Chicano music legends like Rick Stevens and Richard Bean.

     Being apart for lengths of time from his family, put a tremendous strain on Johnny’s marriage, resulting in his first divorce.  It was also around this time that Johnny met Pat, a beautiful Mexican American girl from Modesto, California, who became his second wife, and as Johnny declares, the true love of his life.  When the band moved back to Texas, Johnny took Pat with him and started a life together, but not everything was honey and roses.  Suddenly, Johnny began to feel anger directed at him by Little Joe, an anger that would determine the fate of Johnny's musical future and the Band's direction.

     “The Cotton Picker – An Odyssey” is a series of well-told stories by Johnny Hernandez who presents them in the form of a diary or journal, sharing the hardships and successes he achieved, as well as missed opportunities.  This book captures the realities of growing up poor in Texas where unfairness and discrimination are as common as compassion and equality, and where life is learned in the streets.  Johnny’s detailed description of his adventures, including a sudden trip to Veracruz Mexico, gives the reader the sense of being in the rider’s seat on a very unique, spur of the moment trip.  This book is easy, fun and interesting to read, but it’s the story telling of musical historical events that makes Johnny Hernandez’ “The Cotton Picker – An Odyssey” a must-have book.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Robert Trujillo presents a new film about the Greatest Bass Player

Jaco Pastorius, The Greatest Bass Player





Robert Trujillo, in association with Passion Pictures, has announced the official multi-platform release of the acclaimed new documentary, JACO, directed by Mr. Paul Marchand and Stephen Kijak. The film - which chronicles the brief but extraordinary life of the great American musician/composer Jaco Pastorius - will be available via VOD, streaming services, and digital download on Friday, November 27th.

JACO will also have its official DVD/Blu-ray release that day, in association with Record Store Day and Black Friday 2015. That same day will also see the long anticipated release of "JACO: ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK," Sony/Legacy's official musical companion to the film. Full soundtrack details - including a complete tracklisting - will be announced soon. For news and announcements, please log on to

Trujillo - world-renowned bassist with Metallica and the film's Executive Producer - will celebrate JACO and Record Store Day Black Friday 2015 with a special in-store at The Sound Garden in Syracuse, NY. Slated for TK, the event will feature a screening of JACO as well as a special signing session with Trujillo. For details, please see

JACO is the subject of a successful PledgeMusic Campaign which will conclude at the end of September. Complete details can be found at

The official Record Store Day film of 2014, JACO had its world premiere earlier this year at Austin, TX's SXSW Film Conference & Festival, accompanied by a panel discussion featuring filmmakers Trujillo and Marchand as well as longtime Pastorius collaborator Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Word of Mouth) and JACO Executive Producer John Pastorius. The session can be viewed now at In addition, SXSW ON's Studio SX interview with Trujillo, Marchand, and Pastorius is streaming at

JACO has since earned applause at a number of major festivals, including the inaugural Asbury Park Music in Film Festival and the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The film "(captures) the essence of what made Jaco such an influential artist," declared the Montreal Gazette, praising "the glowing words of Marchand's interviewees and the many recorded and live musical excerpts that he lets speak for themselves" and hailing JACO as "an enlightening introduction to a groundbreaking musician."

JACO tells the remarkable and tragic tale of Jaco Pastorius, a self-taught, larger-than-life musician who single-handedly changed the course of modern music by redefining the sound and the role of the electric bass guitar. Never-before-seen 8mm film, photographs, and audio recordings unveil the true story behind Pastorius' all-too-brief life, his music, and heartbreaking end.

JACO follows Pastorius' beginnings and ascent, from his era-defining work with jazz-fusion pioneers Weather Report to crossover collaborations with Joni Mitchell and Ian Hunter to his own inspired solo career as bandleader and composer. Highlighted by exclusive material from the Pastorius family archive, the film features memories and encomiums from a spectrum of Jaco fans and followers, including Joni Mitchell, Sting, Flea, Herbie Hancock, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, and many others. JACO is produced by Robert Trujillo in association with Passion Pictures (SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, PROJECT NIM); the film is directed by Mr. Paul Marchand and Stephen Kijak.