The Chicano-Japanese Connection

I landed in Tokyo on Saturday, November 18, after a 13-hour flight from Chicago. I'm here to investigate an amazing Japanese connection to LA Chicano culture (including music, particularly from East LA, lowrider cars, cholo style clothing, and more).

This will be part of a reporting piece I'm doing for a major west coast publication. I'm visiting various communities in and around Tokyo that have enjoyed the LA-bred Chicano style. I've also been able to join with a promotional tour with the founding members of the East LA band, Quetzal. They are Quetzal Flores and his wife, Martha Gonzalez. With them is DJ D-Gomez of Monte Carlo '76. They've done concerts at various venues and at a Tower Records store (no longer owned by Tower Records). There has also been some media interviews. At two of the gigs, a member of the legendary LA band, War, also played with Quetzal, Martha, and D-Gomez -- Tex Nakamura, one of the best harmonica players in the world.

Since we all know each other, and have much respect for what we do, they also asked that I read a few poems and say a few words during their sets. They played beneath my words with traditional instruments such as the cajon and the jarana (based on the Son Jarocho musical tradition of Veracruz, Mexico).

It's been an honor to be here and to witness this great collaboration of Mexican/Chicano soul and the wonderful welcome by many Japanese. The next few days, I'll be interviewing several important people linked to this Chicano-Japan connection.


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