Thursday, January 22, 2015

Latino Rock'n Roll Music Legend: Trini Lopez

50 Years of ground-breaking Rock'n Roll from Trini Lopez
Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez, Hispanic News on-line
Edited by Susan Aceves

     From the barrio to Beverly Hills, this folk singing sensation took the world by storm beginning in the early 1960's and continues the tempest even today. Trini elicits standing ovations everywhere he performs and his smooth style knows no age barrier.
     Exhibit Records has just released a Special 50th Anniversary Numbered Limited Edition album of Trini Lopez "At PJ’s." The 200 gram vinyl record is presented in a sturdy old style gatefold jacket featuring the original album art work and, for the first time, includes the lyrics to all the tunes. The back of each album is foil-stamped with its unique number.
     With the release of the PJ album in April 1963 Trini Lopez became one of the biggest singing stars of the Folk Revival. At PJ's made it to #2 on the Billboard charts and stayed in the Top 40 for over a year. The album included the chart-topping If I Had a Hammer which reached number one in 36 countries and was a radio favorite for many years. The hit single sold more than 4 million copies; the album sold over a million and was awarded a gold record.
     This was the album that made Lopez an instant success and the live party atmosphere of the record did much to put Trini's likable energy over the top. What Lopez did at the head of a trio was to make folk-pop swing. Other songs include This Land Is Your Land and Gotta Travel On. It could be surmised that by treating such material in this fashion, Lopez had a tiny influence upon the subsequent folk-rock movement...though, Lopez was more the all-around entertainer with a Latin lilt than he was a pure folk singer, so you also get America (from West Side Story), La Bamba, Ray Charles' What'd I Say, Volare, and When the Saints Go Marching In.
     Trini was a poor young man from the barrio of Dallas, Texas. He remembers there being barely enough food for the family, the amount always determined by his parents' ability to get whatever work they could. "They worked and struggled together just to survive," he recalls. "They plowed fields together. My mother washed clothes in the neighborhood for extra income. You cannot imagine how hard it was."
     When he was eleven years old, his father spanked him for "hanging around with the wrong kind of kids"...what a wise man he was to lead his talented son from a life of street gangs to a life of sophisticated graciousness. Trinidad Lopez, Sr. felt so bad about the spanking he had given his son that he bought him a $12.00 guitar he really could not afford. Trini says, "A spanking literally changed my life."

     Trini learned to play the guitar from his father. Then he played for money on the street corners. He eventually went on to form his own group. It was then that the world saw the beginnings of the singing, acting, and very talented Trini Lopez. Trini's first songs were Mexican sing-alongs with his mother, father, brother, and sisters.
     He dropped out of high school to help his father support the family by singing around Dallas and the Texas "Southland." Trini's quality could not be denied. He went on to the El Cipango Club in Dallas (a more affluent part of Dallas) and to other big clubs throughout the Southwest. He realized music would make him something special. Indeed it did, enabling him to get himself, and his family, out of the barrio.
     When Trini was 18 years old, King Records in Cincinnati, Ohio, heard that Trini had written and recorded a single in Dallas on a little label called Volk Records. The name of the song was The Right to Rock.  From the beginning the record producer wanted Trini to change his name to anything but Lopez. Trini was, and is, proud of his heritage and was devastated by the situation.
     Trini refused and was heading out the door when the record producer stopped him and said, "Okay, okay, you can keep your name." The single made a little noise in Dallas, enough noise for King Records to be impressed with Trini's voice and style. King Records offered Trini a recording contract and for three years and flew Trini from Dallas to Cincinnati to record for two weeks at a time. Unfortunately, the only songs they were giving Trini to record were old country songs they had in their catalog by country artists such as Cowboy Copus. Since I Don't Have You. The song hit the Top 10 nationwide, and Trini was elated to see his name on Cashbox, and Billboard. The only other song on King Records Trini had that was a No. 1 hit in his hometown of Dallas was a song called Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die.

     Once in a while in some recording sessions, Trini would slip in some of his own compositions that were more up to date. The only song to hit the charts nationally on the King label for Trini was a song Trini covered by the Skyliners called Trini befriended the famous recording artist Mr. Buddy Holly, a fellow Texan. Buddy Holly asked if Trini would like to meet his record producer in Clovis, New Mexico. Trini was elated and packed his station wagon with his group and drove to Clovis with the hopes of recording. Buddy Holly's record producer turned out to be prejudiced because of Trini's heritage. He would not allow the use of Trini's name on the record label. Trini's group agreed with the conspiracy against Trini's Latin name, and they agreed not to allow Trini to sing on the record. The record was released as an instrumental under the name "The Big Beats." When Trini returned to Dallas, he disbanded the group and assembled a new band.
     While in Clovis, Trini befriended not only Buddy Holly but also his band, The Crickets. As fate would have it, two months later, Buddy Holly was killed in the fatal plane crash along with Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. A couple of months after the plane crash, Trini received a phone call from The Crickets asking him to come to Hollywood to be their lead singer. Trini was ecstatic and, instead of flying, he used the money sent by The Crickets to drive his station wagon to Los Angeles. All through the two and half day trip Trini kept saying to himself, "Hollywood or bust! Hollywood or bust!!!" In 1960, Trini arrived in H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D driving his old station wagon with "Trini Lopez and his Combo" painted on each side.

     The agreement Trini had with The Crickets did not materialize because The Crickets were enjoying their royalties and record sales from Buddy Holly's past hit recordings and were in no hurry to perform. Lopez left Dallas with $200 and it was soon gone. He had promised he would be sending monies to his parents from his engagements in California. Out of desperation, Trini Lopez, the soloist was born.
     Trini got a job at the Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills. He was hired with no group, just with his guitar. His engagement was to last two weeks and ended up lasting a year. The first big break came at the popular night spot called P. J.'s. Here he was spotted by the world famous record producer, the late Don Costa, who then brought Trini to the attention of his longtime idol, Mr. Frank Sinatra. The great singer recognized a fellow stylist and immediately signed Trini to an exclusive eight-year contract with his own label - Reprise Records.

     Reprise released his first album Trini Lopez at P. J.'s, which became a No. 1 hit album. Out of that album a single If I Had a Hammer became a No. 1 hit in thirty eight countries. If I Had a Hammer hammered his name in GOLD with many hit albums and many hit singles ... and in the hearts of millions of fans throughout the world! Following Hammer were many hits which he wrote, as well as songs like I'm Coming Home Cindy, Michael, Lemon Tree, Kansas City, America, and, of course, La Bamba. The list of songs he made famous goes on. It wasn't until If I Had A Hammer ultimately sold five million copies (and still selling throughout the world) that he got it through his head he IS something special.
     He began by playing a priest and a parole officer on two of Jack Webb's Adam 12 TV shows for Universal, which was aired on the NBC network. From there he went to movies. Frank Sinatra cast Trini's in his first appearance: the movie, Marriage on the Rocks, which also starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. His second movie appearance was in A Poppy is Also a Flower starring Sean Connery, Marcello Mastriani and a star-studded cast. Following this was the classic The Dirty Dozen starring Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson and another star studded cast. Trini's first starring role was in Antonio with his co-star, the infamous "J.R.," Larry Hagman. Then he became an army G.I. for a TV Movie of the Week called The Reluctant Heroes for Aaron Spelling Productions.
     The future for Trini will be as active as usual with touring around the world, a new album in the making, and hopefully a movie, but now he is more selective and chooses his projects carefully. Since his move to Palm Springs, where he now resides year-round, the "laid-back" atmosphere has sort of rubbed-off on him, and it's not necessary for Trini to do every project he's offered. So, you'll find him on the tennis courts or golf course almost any day, as it has become a new passion with him and he has the trophies to prove it.

Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez, was honored to speak with the music legend.

AC: Tell us about growing up poor in Dallas. Was your first language Spanish? Tell us a little about your family.
TL: Growing up in Dallas was very difficult for me. My family and I lived in a two room house and it certainly was crowded. My first language was Spanish. My father and mother were very poor, but they were very rich spiritually.

AC: What kind of music did you listen to around the house? Your dad was musically talented?
TL: I listened to Spanish music around my house growing up - my father taught me my first Spanish songs at a very young age.

AC: Did growing up poor color your musical choices later in life by pursuing folk music which was known for its commentary on social change?
TL: Later on in my life, folk music influenced my very much because folk music, at that time, had a very interesting message. Being poor had nothing to do with it.

AC: What gave you the courage to take your music to Dallas' more affluent clubs? Did you consciously want to cross over and play to English speaking audiences?
TL: I started singing English songs to Anglo people from the beginning of my career. The more affluent clubs in Dallas approached me because of my reputation as an entertainer at that time.

AC: How did Latinos in your community react to the idea of you doing songs in English?
TL: My Latin friends enjoyed hearing me sing rock and roll and popular songs.

AC: What did the Anglo audiences think of you at first and did you have to win them over?
TL: I was always very lucky, whether the audience was Latino or Anglo, they always enjoyed my singing.

AC: Tell us about landing your first record deal at 18?
TL: I was contacted by phone by King Records in Cincinnati, Ohio. King Records heard the first record I recorded for a small label in Dallas. The song was The Right to Rock.

AC: The Right to Rock?
TL: When I wrote the song The Right to Rock, I was singing mostly rock and roll.

AC: What kind of a performer did you want to be? An Elvis, a Chuck Berry, a folk singer?
TL: I just wanted to be a popular singer.

AC: Why did you fight so hard to keep your name when the producer wanted to change it?
TL: I was, and am, very proud to be a Mexicano!

AC: Do you think changing your name to an Anglo one could have helped your career?
TL: Yes, very much!!

AC: You were one of the first Latino megastars who kept their Latino name. That took a lot of guts back then. Does the Latino community appreciate this?
TL: I don’t know.

AC: Tell us about the early recordings. How did you feel hearing yourself on the radio? How did your family react to your initial success?
TL: The first time I heard myself on the radio I was driving along in my station wagon and I pulled over to the side of the street. I listened to the whole song and waited until the disc jockey mentioned my name. I was very excited, of course.

AC: Tell us about some of the first songs you had written. Was it harder for a Latino to break into mainstream music at that time?
TL: It was very, very difficult!!! The songs I wrote in my early career were The Right to Rock, Rock On and Only In My Dreams.

AC: How did you meet Buddy Holly and what was that friendship like?
TL: I was appearing at a night club in Wichita Falls, Texas and Buddy Holly was in town at that time to promote his single record That Will Be the Day. The disc jockey who was interviewing Buddy that day was a friend of mine from Dallas. His name was Tommy Garrett. After Tommy’s interview with Buddy, Tommy said to Buddy, “There is a friend of mine from Dallas appearing at a night club here, would you like to go see and hear him?” Buddy said, “Yeah, oh sure.” After my show, Tommy brought Buddy to my dressing room. Buddy Holly was very friendly and very nice. He said to me, “Trini, I really enjoyed your show and I think you are great!" He asked me if I would you like to meet his record producer. That was how I met Buddy Holly.

AC: You mentioned that when Buddy passed away, The Crickets called you to come to Hollywood to replace him.
TL: Yes, when Buddy was killed his group, The Crickets, asked me to come and join them in Hollywood, then go on tour with them as their lead singer.

AC: Tell us about becoming a totally broke solo artist in LA. Your objective was to send home money to your family, correct?
TL: My objective when I first went to Los Angeles was to get a singing engagement as soon as possible because I told my parents I would send them money as quickly as I could.

AC: At that time, who was big in performing and getting good gigs? Who were your contemporaries?
TL: At the time I went to Hollywood in 1960, the people who were getting the good gigs were Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., etc. My contemporaries were The Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran, and actor/singer Tommy Sands.

AC: Tell us about PJ’s and meeting Don Costa. What was his impact on your career?
TL: Meeting Don Costa at PJ’s had one of the biggest impacts on my career. Don Costa, at that time, was producing and recording artists like Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.
AC: Because of Costa, you started hanging with people like Sinatra and many other mega stars. How did they treat you?
TL: Because of Don Costa, I had hits on my first two albums recorded live at PJ’s. Right after that, Frank Sinatra wanted to meet me and he introduced me to artists like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and many more big stars. All these mega stars treated me with a lot of respect and admiration.

AC: How did you assemble songs for this legendary PJ's album?
TL: I asked Don Costa when we started to record the PJ’s album, “What do you want me to do?” Don said, “Just do your show and we will record it.”

AC: Did you want to be a folk singer? Have you been type-cast as a folk singer?
TL: They wanted to type cast me as a folk singer because at that time folk music was very popular.

AC: How did your life change when the album became a monster hit and Hammer sold five million copies?
TL: Having a hit single and album did not affect me at all. I always have had my feet on the ground.

AC: Did the fame and fortune cause you to go into excesses, like so many artists have over the years?
TL: The only excessive thing I started to do was I spent a lot of money on clothes!

AC: How do you like being a music icon? What is the good and bad of fame for you?
TL: I have enjoyed it all my life. There is no good or bad, it is what you make it.

AC: Tell us about your acting career. How did this all get started?
TL: When I started my career, I was approached by the producer of The Dirty Dozen and he said that he would like for me to play the part of Jimenez in the movie. That’s how it all started.

AC: Tell us about The Dirty Dozen - that was an iconic film. What was that like?
TL: It was very exciting to be a part of such a marvelous cast.

AC: What are some of the highlights of your acting reel? Did you ever consider becoming a full time film and TV actor?

TL: Working and doing a little bit of acting with actors like John Cassavetes and Lee Marvin were some of the highlights. I wanted to do more acting in my career, but it is a very difficult act to get into.

AC: You have never been overtly political but rather you let your music make your statement about things. Have you shied away from political causes considering you are one of the highest profile Mexican-American performers in American History? 
TL: I have purposely shied away from politics.

AC: Is there a reason you have kept a low profile on these sorts of things?
TL: Yes, the reason is I think an entertainer/artist should keep to his own business.

AC: You are involved in many things including a signature series of guitars. Can you tell us about some of your side interests and hobbies?
TL: My only other interest other than my Gibson guitars is I enjoy golf and tennis.

AC: You have continued to travel and tour the world over the years and still keep your music fresh. What motivates you to keep it going?
TL: That is a hard question. It is my inner self and spirit that makes me want to make people happy.

AC: Tell us all about the Special 50th Anniversary Numbered Limited Edition album of Trini Lopez At PJ’s?
TL: My most successful album in my career has always been Trini Lopez Live in P.J’s. I am thrilled Exhibit Records is re-issuing my very first LP in vinyl!!!

AC: Are you planning to tour in support of the re-release?
TL: If I get the right offers, I will.

AC: What can fans expect from the LP?
TL: Beside all of the lyrics being printed on the inside jacket, the recording itself is digitally re-mastered.

AC: How do you think history will remember you?
TL: I hope history will remember me as a down-to-earth person who loves people.

AC: What are some things still on your bucket list?
TL: I would like to do some serious acting.

AC: What would you like your legacy to be?
TL: It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rebels With a Cause: The Mexican Revolution

A visual, musical, and cultural presentation about the Mexican Revolution 
 
SACRAMENTO, CA – Many historians agree that of all the revolutions, none has left so much culture, pride and romanticism like the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Lasting a little over ten years, it featured world renowned Rebels like Francisco I. Madero, Pancho Villa, and Emiliano Zapata, with the latter two having an American-made feature length films about their lives. But, other key component were the songs, attire, and stories of heroism that are still talked about and presented in modern times. Now, for the first time in the Sacramento region, all this can be experienced as Bella Productions, in concert with the Mexican Consulate of Sacramento present REBELS WITH A CAUSE: The Mexican Revolution.

Scheduled for November 19, 2014 at the historic Crest Theater, REBELS WITH A CAUSE: The Mexican Revolution will feature an evening of art, fashion, story telling, dance, and musical performances recognizing Villa, Zapata and the women soldiers who joined them, Las Adelitas.

“This is an event that will not only entertain, but educate the community of the power that the people have when coming together to fight injustices,” says event coordinator Lucy Garcia-Robles. “Attendees can expect to enjoy an evening of art, music, dance, fashion and film.”
 

The evening will begin with a welcoming reception at 5 p.m. and will feature local author Samuel S. Ortega who will be on hand to autograph copies of his published book “Viva Villa,” and entertainment provided by Veronica Esparza and Mariachi Tradicional. Performances will begin at 7 p.m. with period dances by the Ballet Folklorico-Rincones de mi Tierra, narrated by dance director Marcos Sanchez, and followed by the all-female Bella Mariachi Trio. Mariachi music became the symbol of the Mexican Revolution because it represented the national spirit of the indigenous Mexican blood.

Local designer extraordinaire Rory Castillo, of Castillo Designs, will present the varied fashions of the Revolution that will be eloquently modeled by the gracious Reina and her court from the Sacramento Reina Fiestas Patrias. Other performances include the Folkloric Group Los Alteños local singing sensation Dinorah.

“Throughout the program, we will go from fiesta to Corridos, which narrate a variety of events, such as important battles, and celebrated great leaders and fighters of the revolution,” adds Garcia-Robles.

Tickets for this extraordinary and culturally educational event are $25 and can be obtained at www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/710487/tfly. Event coordinators are also encouraging those who can afford it to purchase a block of 10 tickets to donate to local school students. A portion of funds raised will be donated to scholarships offered through the nonprofit organization Cien Amigos.

About Bella Productions
Bella Productions was founded by Lucy Garcia-Robles in 2013 with the goal of creating a production company that gives back to the community. Together with Aida Perez and Anna Padilla they have set out to help nonprofit organizations fundraise through events and activities that promote cultural and historical educational values.

About the Sacramento Mexican Consulate
One of the most active Consulates representing Mexico, the Sacramento Mexican Consulate offers a variety of services and information to Mexicans living in the region and those who wish to travel to Mexico. Besides community cultural events, the Consulate offers information about educational opportunities and health services.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Eclectic and Amazing Skateboard Icon turned Musician, Tommy Guerrero


From cofounder of the skateboarding company REAL, to a diverse musical sensation, Guerrero is hitting his stride.
 

As a teenager, Tommy Guerrero was one of the most prominent members of the Bones Bregade, Powell Peralta’s professional skateboarding team that was successful during the 1980′s. He was well known for his relaxed style in street skateboarding and his Bones Brigade footage was primarily filmed in his hometown of San Francisco. The videos Future Primitive, The Search for Animal Chin, Public Domain, and Ban This all featured the street skateboarding of Guerrero.
After riding for Powell Peralta, Guerrero and Jim Thiebaud, a hometown friend and Powell Peralta teammate, started the skateboarding company Real.
Karl Watson, professional skateboarder and founder of Organika skateboards, also grew up in San Francisco and revealed in 2012 that, as a young boy, he moved into a house in which the Guerrero formerly resided. Watson has stated that upon moving into the house, he discovered a drumstick that was used in the Animal Chin movie and explained: “… and that was in my room; and right then and there, I knew that I was destined to be a pro skater.”  Watson referred to himself as “blessed” as he subsequently received packages of skateboard goods that were addressed to Guerrero.
After his success in the world of skateboarding, Guerrero decided to pursue his musical interests and was a member of the skate rock band Free Beer and the experimental group Jet Black Crayon. However, Guerrero’s work as a solo artist has so far been the most commercially and critically successful. Guerrero’s albums, EPs, and various singles incorporate a diversified style of music, from rockhip-hop, and funk, to soul, and jazz.
Click HERE To Listen
The EA video game skate has featured numerous unreleased compositions that were written and recorded by Guerrero.
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine named Guerrero’s third studio album Soul Food Taqueria (2003), number two on its 2003 “Best Of” list.
At the 2013 15th Annual ‘Transworld Skateboarding Awards’ Guerrero was the recipient of the ‘Legend’ award. On the red carpet preceding the awards event, Guerrero stated:
I’m super grateful, that anyone really cares, to be honest. Um … conflicted; I’m not one to rest on my laurels and it’s hard to accept accolades for something you did thirty years ago, you know? I’d rather be appreciated for what I do now, but I … I … I’m super grateful … I can’t believe it [street skateboarding in the 21st century]. I mean the technical aspect and the consistency, combined with that, is mind-blowing … but just where it’s at now, is, is insane; I mean, what Rodney [Mullen] sort of started, with the technical aspect, to a whole another level, you know? Making it extremely gnarly, extremely technical … I’d hate to be growing up skating now.
Following his receipt of the Transworld “Legend” award, Guerrero invited all “street skaters” onto the stage to stand alongside with him at the Avalon Theater in HollywoodCalifornia USA.
It’s 2014 and Tommy Guerrero’s resume reads like a dream. Bones Brigade skate team in the 80’s, movie appearances, co-founder of Real Skateboards and 40’s Clothing, art director for Krooked Skateboarding, and prolific recording artist. From the Fat Jazzy Grooves and Another Late Night compilations, to albums for Mo’Wax, Galaxia, Function 8, Rush [Japan], and Quannum and Ubiquity, Tommy Guerrero has lead a full life. Then there’s the collaborations with Lyrics Born, Jack Johnson, Curumin, Bing Ji Ling and Prefuse 73, remixes for Money Mark/Nigo, Poets of Rhythm and Shawn Lee. His band, Jet Black Crayon, has toured with Isotope 217 and Tortoise. He’s scored tunes for Thomas
Campbell’s surf film Sprout, the EA video game Skate and had the honor of being the sole provider of music for Todd Oldham’s show Hand Made Modern on HGTV. His songs have been licensed for zeitgeist television shows like Queer as Folk, Sex in the City, and CSI Miami. His designs are found on Levis in Japan, Vans shoes worldwide, and Sutro eyewear.
Tommy’s music, like his graphic design, is beguilingly simple. He sounds like a guy messing around on his front stoop and maybe that’s exactly what he is – but the result will touch you down to your toes. From Mission District punkers to Shibuya-ku hipsters, his melodies dance lightly around your head while the rhythms build under your feet and move your hips. His is SOUL music, made by a street kid raised on Santana and Bill Withers (with more than a little nod to the Clash and Public Enemy in there, too).
Herald De Paris Special Contributor, Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez took a verbal ride with the post modern mogul, Mr. Tommy Guerrero.

AC: Tell us a little about your folks and growing up in SF. How did those early years influence who you are today?
TG: My brother and I were raised by our mother. We lived with my aunt and cousins on and off over the years. As most people know, San Francisco was much different than it is currently – much more of a working class feel. Now days San Francisco is just rich kids using the city as a stepping stone. No roots will be planted.
           I had a pretty standard lower class childhood and started skating when I was nine. We lived on a hill so that informed my approach to skating.

AC: What was your first skateboard experience like and when did you realize you were really good at it? How does SF lend itself to boarding?
TG: A friend gave me a Black Knight board – clay wheels etc. I was hooked! Where we lived was surrounded by hills so being surrounded by hills forces a skateboarder to learn to deal with speed. You need to develop the skills to control it. The ability to do this became ingrained in the way I skated.
I have never had an epiphany about my prowess on a board and am still waiting…

AC:  When did you become interested in music? Who did you listen to when being inspired? Who would you like to fashion your career after?
TG: I started playing music with my brother when I was around twelve. At that time the punk movement arrived on the West Coast with a fury. We naturally gravitated to it as it went hand-in-hand with skate ideology.
My brother and I went to see The Ramones in ’78; they played a free gig in front of the San Franciscan city hall. That experience changed everything! I wanted to be part of that scene.

AC: Tell us about the Bones Brigade – pro skateboard team – how did you hook up and what about that seminal video shot in SF? How old were you?
TG: The Brigades main guy, Stacy, approached my brother at the second San Francisco street style competition in Golden Gate Park.
My brother Tony told me that they really liked the way I skated and wanted me in but I didn’t believe him. They were major! Then I spoke with Stacy a bit later realized that the offer was real, so I joined.
The future primitive video – that was my “debut” so-to-speak. Stacy and his buddy came to SF for a day. I took them around The City to a bunch of different spots – various places I had been skating for years.
Back then, you didn’t have a year or even a month to film – it was maybe three days at best for a solo part. I wish I had a bit more time but that’s the way it was. I was one of the first to do that sort of thing and it was successful. Hopefully it opened some doors for the skater community.

AC: What is life like as a ‘Pro Skateboarder?’ Travel, shows, completions . . . what is the good and bad of this life?
TG: Being a pro skater was a dream job! You kidding me?! But it was also demanding. It beat the crap out of my body and I am in pain –  even now during this interview!
There is quite a bit of traveling but very little time to really experience any local culture. It was always on to the next event. Always trains, planes, autos, etc… on the constant move.

AC: Tell us about the 2013 annual Skateboarding Awards. When you won the Legend Award you mentioned that it seemed weird receiving an award for doing something 30 years ago.
TG: Actually I wasn’t into it. A couple of friends – Jim Thiebaud and Juilen stranger – convinced me that I sort of had to participate. I am not one to sit back and ruminate on “the good ole days” as-it-were. I’m still being creative and skating and trying to stay in the streets… that’s where life is happening.

AC: After success in skateboarding, you went into music. Tell us about your first bands. How is performing music different than performing as an athlete?
TG: I am still in skating! Me and Jim Thiebaud formed Real Skateboards 23 years ago! Still here, still doing it! Music isn’t my job, not yet anyway.
My first bands were just my brother and friends playing punk. I grew up playing bass. The guitar just happened out of necessity – just as being a solo musician.
We played all the local San Francisco punk clubs – the Mab, the On Broadway, Ruthies Inn, Tool and Die, etc. We played with similar bands such as Fear, Bad Brains, D.O.A., Social Distortion, Minor Threat and so on.
I don’t consider myself to be an athlete nor do I feel that skating is a performance for me. It’s part of life. Competitions were necessary at the time, so I learned how to play the game. I was decent at it.
Playing to an audience can be nerve wracking. Putting your soul on the line isn’t easy and people love to criticize and diminish others for what they do. It’s difficult.

AC: Your solo work is critically and commercially very successful. Tell us a little bit about each of your albums.
TG: Ha! I wouldn’t say successful by any means. Very few people actually pay for music anymore. The only way an indie artist can make any sort of income is to license work. Definitely not commercially successful. All of my albums are written/recorded at the same time. I don’t make demos etc. It’s very spontaneous, raw and of-the-moment.
I don’t like flogging songs until they become lifeless; then you’re just going through the motions which loses the emotional impact of the tune.

AC: You incorporate jazz, hip hop, funk, and soul. What inspires you to write?
TG: Inspiration can come from anything/anywhere really. A solid deep groove or a melody, or perhaps just the tone of an instrument. It’s endless.

AC: What kind of music moves you?
TG: Honest music. I dig all genres, just has to be true.

AC: Where would you like to be musically?
TG: A better musician !!!!!

AC: In 2004 Rolling Stone Magazine named your third album (Soul Food Taqueria) number two on its ’2013 Best’ list. For those who haven’t heard that joint, why do you think it is so well received?
TG: I think someone was paid off! I have no idea why. Taqueria is not anything truly special. I think it was being marketed as a down tempo recording as well, but I am grateful.

AC: Tell us about your live performances and your recent tour of Europe. How did that go? How do you like touring and what are touring plans for the future?
TG: The tour had its up and downs; there have been some promotional miscues as well as venue choices. The next time I would reach out to local skate shops to help spread the word. Maybe even play shops, drop a hat, and hope it fills up! But I had a great time and would do it all again.
The next tour coming up is Japan. In the Fall we are doing nine cities and eleven gigs.
I usually don’t do extended tours like most bands. I don’t have label support, the funds, or a band, although I hire musicians on occasion. It’s quite difficult to make it happen. I love being on the road though.

AC: What are you working on now? Tell us about some of your new endorsements and how people can find out more about you.
TG: I just finished an album for the Japanese label named Rush that I work with – relearning the tunes and rehearsing the material – then the standard work – and hanging with my son.

AC: This is what Tommy writes about himself:
tg is old.
he likes to play music anywhere anytime.
he wishes he could still skate but his limbs are a mutinous lot. so he pushes to the beer store.
by day [ partial ] he sits in front of a monitor [at deluxe ] and makes …
sense of gonz’s artwork and puts it on skateboards for krooked.
art[mis]director.
by eve/night he tries to write/play/record/music.
[ artcorn ]
he likes to use glue stick and paper. like kindergartners.
he likes wood boxes.
his son diego is 6.5 and rules. and is smarter.
his knees hurt as he’s typing this.
he needs a beer. [ but it's too early. ]
he does lots of things. none worth mentioning but some people think
so. dumb and dumber.
he googles himself daily.
he has too many records and t shirts. most are in storage. oh and skateboards.
he likes bill withers and coltrane.
he likes joseph cornell and rupert garcia.
he needs to stop typing and get to work.
thnk you. tg

Edited By Susan Aceves

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Latina actress has taken on the tough guys


 
By Al Carlos Hernandez on April 29, 2014

     HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) –  Elpidia Carrillo was born August 16, 1961 in Santa Elena, Michoacán, Mexico, a small mountain community where her grandfather was a landowner. When Carrillo was six years old, her father was murdered. Her brother moved the family of eight siblings to Paracuaro, where Elpidia attended school.
     Perhaps her best acted role in Hollywood to date has been that of “Maria” in the 1986 movie Salvador where she played a Salvadoran acting alongside James Woods. Arguably, though, her best-known role would be as the survivor, Anna, in Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a cameo in Predator 2. In American cinema, she has also worked with Johnny Depp and many other stars.
     When she was 12, Carrillo’s brother was also murdered, forcing her to go to work in a restaurant to support the family. Walking down the street one day, she was approached by an agent who offered a modeling contract. Carrillo debuted in film at age 16 with Deseos (1977). Several roles in Mexican movies and television series followed. Her first American film was The Border (1982), and she became well-known through her roles in with Deseos (1977). Several roles in Mexican movies and television series followed. Her first American film was The Border (1982), and she became well-known through her roles in Predator (1987), Salvador (1986), and for De Tripas, Corazon, which was nominated for an Academy Award. She has been featured in several television series episodes, including ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and has directed a 2004 short,Killer Snake. Carrillo has received a number of awards, including two Alma Awards for outstanding Supporting Actress, and has been honored for helping to improve the Latino media profile.
     Carrillo is married with two children, and lives in Venice, California.
     Carillo has mainly appeared in Mexican movies. Her first American movie was 1982s The Border. Other American films include Beyond the Limit (with Joaquim de Almeida), Salvador (with Juan Fernandez and Tony Plana), Let’s Get Harry (with Glenn Frey and Jerry Hardin), Predator (with Bill Duke and Sonny Landham) and its’ sequel Predator 2 (with Bill Paxton and Ruben Blades), The Brave (with Clarence Williams III, Luis Guzman, and Pepe Serna), and her most recent film appearance, in 2009s Mother and Child (with Annette Bening and Jimmy Smits).
     Her first American TV appearance was in the 1985 mini-series Christopher Columbus. Other appearances includeMidnight Caller (with Gary Cole, Jesse Borrego, and Mykelti Williamson), 21 Jump Street (with Jorge Gil, Xavier Coronel and Mario Ernesto Sanchez), ER, Law and Order, and The Mentalist.
     She is currently working on editing a documentary that she shot in Michoacán. She is also working on opening a Film Festival in Tierra Caliente, Michoacán. This is to promote education and arts in communities that don’t have a decent school system or even a library , Elpidia is opening a few book stores and cafeterias en las comunidades para que los jovenes tengan a donde ir a pasar el tiempo y educarse.
 
Herald de Paris Deputy Managing Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez was enchanted to meet and interact with this mulit-national theatrical icon – a woman who had held her own opposite Hollywood’s top leading men.

AC:  Your life story is what great novels are made of. You grew up in a small town in Mexico and your grandfather was a landowner. What were those first few years like?
EC: The first years of my life from birth to three were also the beginning of tragedy for my family. In 1964 my father got shot and killed in one of the villages where my grandfather owned land. A few years before my father’s only brother had been shot as well.
After that my mother and her ten children became workers for my grandfather’s many farms, but we did not own land any more. My grandfather had taken it all from us. Most of us were still very little and my mama Maria only had three boys. The older boy was about 16, the other boy was about ten and the third boy was just a couple of months old so she was forced to place us with different relatives.

AC: Tragedy hit when you were six years old. What happened? Does the intense emotionality of that time still inform your work as an artist? If so, how?
EC: My brother Ramiro, the oldest of the boys, became our father figure and he felt very responsible for us all. He bought a house for us in the town of Paracuaro were my grandpa also owned land and cattle. I was a good and smart girl – my brother told me he wanted me to go to school, but I was too little to start first grade. In those years there was no pre-school in my town. He thought I would do well and he got me a false birth certificate and made me a couple of years older. He send me to school and I was about four but he made me six on paper.
     Tragically, he saw me make it to the second grade because in 1968 he got shot outside the only movie theater in town. I will never forget the sounds of gun shots at night time. That Bang! Bang! Bang! That sound went with me everywhere I went.
     To hear your mother cry in the middle of the night when she learns that her son has been shot is something no one can ever forget. I could hear her footsteps running, faster than she normally did, until she got to her already dead boy. All my sisters and cousins and friends came out of the movie theater and screamed, shouting to get the criminals. We hear them running in the middle of the night, hear the gallop of the horses taking the criminals away. All the way to México City where, when I turned ten, jure que vengaria la muerte de mi hermano.
     After the death of my brother we were all threatened to be raped or killed. I was never so scared for my life and my sister’s life as I was back then. Some of my sisters got married at a very young age in order for them to be fed and protected. My sister Marisa decide to move herself to the nearest big town of Uruapan. She found shelter with the curandera from that town and started to work in the Chinese restaurant. Another older sister also left to Mexico City and became at very young stripper.
I found myself bouncing from my grandfather’s home to another older sister’s home where I was abused and hardly had any food.
     When I turned ten, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to leave the town. I had learned already how to use a gun and decided that I would go to Uruapan. I asked my sister Marisa that if she could take me with her. If not, I was going to leave the town anyway. I knew that if I had been able to save myself from so many dangerous situations, I would do okay for myself staying in a big town like that. She took me with her and found me a job with the Chinese man.
     After a year in Uruapan earning a few pesos and working so many hours, I didn’t have to keep on going to school , I became frustrated so I quit. While there I was living at La Curandera’s house. Life was not looking good, but my luck changed when I noticed that a local photographer had being taking photos of me. He asked the Chinese man if he could talk to me.

AC: Just like in the movies, you were walking down the street and offered a modeling contract from an agent. Did that really happen? Weren’t you skeptical?
EC: The photographer was nice but also loved women and seguramente entre mas’ niñas, mejor. I was scared but strong and the man was somehow taken aback seeing my wild and fierce eyes. He offered me good money and took me to the capital of Michoacán to model the outfits that the Purecha women used. I was, for the first time in my life, in contact with my real roots, I felt proud and became a good model and listener. The photographer noticed my interest and said he thought I had more talent than just being a model. He thought I could be an actress. I had no idea what he was talking about. Within a year or so I became more frustrated when I notice that the Chinese man was using me and my sister to attract men to his restaurant. My sister got married that year at 15.

AC: You went to work in a restaurant at 12. What was that like? Is this where you honed your strong work ethic?
EC: I was all alone and hungry . . . very, very hungry. But at age 12 a film director from Mexico City came and I  was offered to participate in my first film,  Pafnucio Santo, where I got to portray La Malinche –  I had no dialog. Instead I got to sing  in German Opera. I had no idea what opera was, but the pay was good so I said yes. When I got to the set I learned that I had to take my clothes off. I was scared but there was no one taking care of me, and no one cared that I was a minor. They took off my dress in the middle of the set and told me to sing and walk sexy. The director said that the film was about a time when women didn’t wear any clothing. I somehow understood. They also said, “Or else you don’t get paid.” He also decided that my name on his movies would be “Piya” Instead of Elpidia Carrillo.
After I finished that film I had another contract to star in a Mexican film called El Nuevo Mundo. It was my first lead role and a big production. All was good until I learned that I had to be naked in that film as well. And again I did it ,since I didn’t read the contract before hand. I was again forced to get undressed. By this time I worked on the movie Deceos. They thought I had experience because the director, for the first time, took his time to sit with me and talk to me about the scene. We discussed how we will shoot it and how important my role was . . . and that I had to take my clothes off (hahaha).  I understood and had decided that I liked the art of storytelling. I decided to discover more about it.  I enrolled in the Bellas Arts School in Mexico City. After that I didn’t stop working in México for both Mexican and European productions. I got to travel to the south of the continent. I had no plans and knew little about North America.


AC: From 1977 until 1982 you worked on many TV and film projects in Mexico. What were those experiences like? What was your lifestyle like at the time?
EC: In 1977 at the age of 17, I got chosen by Tony Richardson to star in The Border with Jack Nicholson. I didn’t speak a word of English and had no idea who Nicholson was, but I was again taken by surprise. Before I knew it I was in Hollywood, had a work visa and was living in Tony Richardson’s home laughing my ass off at Nicholson’s jokes.  I remember that it was the first time I ever felt secure and safe. I understood that I had rights as a teenager and as an artist. I got an agent, an assistant, a driver, money to eat, tickets to Disney, etc.
After I did The Border I kept on working in other great films and didn’t think too much about doing TV. I thought that I was made to just work in films, and I only did a couple here and there when a friend or someone that knew me offered me the roles. I did eventually started taking various TV roles in the USA and Mexico and I still do.

AC: In 1979 you starred (along with James Woods) in Oliver Stones’ Salvador. How did you land that role and how was it working with Oliver Stone? What did he teach you?
EC: Yes. I felt so connected and I felt such need for fighting for people’s rights. I looked up to Oliver at that moment as if he was my hero. I was able to see the mistakes he was making in showing Latino culture, like he did with me, acostada en la hamaca, desnuda, con el bebe llorando, y mi hermanito fumando mota y al gringo ensima de mi, valiendole madres todo. Yes we fought and argued about not getting naked and well, he won.

AC: In what way is Mexican cinema different from the US?
EC: I saw the difference in Mexican film only in terms of money. I mean the US is bigger in many different ways but in terms of stories, I think Mexico tiene mejores y mas historias de importancia. I think son menos comerciales y tienen mas contenido. I believe that we have so many stories to tell, so many.

AC: Is it difficult for Latinas to find roles?
EC: It is hard as a woman, Latina or no Latina. Here in Hollywood it is hard to find good roles for women.

AC: How did/does fame effect you as an artist?
EC: I don’t see myself as someone famous. I wish! The fame is bringing me money to support my children and the opportunity to work giving back to my gente. Que venga! I think that generosity is a very important tool for an artist. I think that we women artists have to speak up. Yes. I do believe that. We have the weapons, the tools: our bodies, musical instruments, paint brushes, pencil and paper, cameras, and tons of stories.

AC: What about age?
EC: Yes! age affects! Hahaha! But I don’t see that I should or would stop working as I get older, you know?

AC: Does an artist have any obligation to be a role model?
EC: Yes I feel that I should be careful what I do as an artist. Latina artists have not been portrayed in Hollywood in a positive light. I think there are hardly any roles for Latino women to begin with.

AC: Tell us about working with Rodrigo Garcia.
EC: I had the fortune to work with Rodrigo Garcia a couple of times – he is one of the directors that I have been more challenged with. With Rodrigo I learned about acting and writing and shooting my entire scene with no editing!  I think he has a unique way of telling stories about women. I was so happy when he gave the role in Nine Lives – I got an Alma award and a couple of other awards in Europe for it. I also had the luck to work with Ken Loach in Bread and Roses. I learned so much about acting, writing, producing, generosity, compassion, team work, story, photography and improvisation.


AC: What did you learn from your Predator experience while working with Arnold?
EC: The only thing I learned from making Predator was to be able to survive among a bunch of horny, macho, stupid, muscle men. I am very proud of that.

AC: What are some of the things you would like to do?
 EC: I would like to go back and work in Mexico and anywhere else in Latino America. My goal is to be able to bring productions to most of Latino America countries. In that way I could establish small production houses and be able to make films, documentaries and shorts. I would  be able to give my “Elpidia Carrillo Workshops” (Arts and film making).

AC: What are you working on right now?
EC: I am now working on editing a documentary that I shot in Michoacán. I am also working on opening a Film Festival in Tierra Caliente, Michoacán. This is to promote education and arts in communities that don’t have a good school system and/or don’t even have a library. I am also opening a few book stores and cafeterias en las comunidades para que los jovenes tengan a donde ir a pasar el tiempo y educarse.
Edited by Susan Aceves