Posted March 12, 2009 in

Brown Power? Tierra, the mid-1970’s-era soul-rock, salsa-funk powerhouse, epitomizes all that the phrase implies (pride, strength, conscience, spirit), and puts it over with a sizzling, rhythmic depth and songs that have an unusual focus on social and cultural commentary—hardly a popular pursuit during one of the most vapid periods in rock music. Named Best R&B Vocal Group by Billboard during their hey day, they scored chart hits like “Together,” Zoot Suit Boogie,” “Memories,” “Gonna Find Her,” became the first ELA import to perform in Tokyo, Japan and at, dig, Carnegie Hall while setting the tone along the way for an emerging wave of bands like El Chicano and Malo. It can all be traced back to the early 1960’s East Los Angeles, when teen rockers the Jaguars first heard sibling sensations Stevie and Rudy Salas singing trad Mexican corridos at a church social; the band asked their parents permission for the youthful pair to join up, and it ignited one of the Eastside’s most ambitious and longest running partnerships. With the Jaguars, one of the earliest Chicano bands captured on wax, they contributed the classic answer song “The Return of Farmer John,” kicked out the jams as a brother act throughout the ’60s before forming Tierra in ’73 and debuting with a powerful self-titled platter. The rough hewn set bristled with classics like their “Barrio Suite,” and the band was soon touring coast to coast, packing intimate venues like the Houston Astrodome. But rock & roll, especially for siblings, ain’t a pretty business and after a bitter falling out, the Salas’ led their own separate version of Tierra for years. Having buried the hatchet a few years ago, you now the get the genuine article, and it’s a sure fire bet to bust the thrill-o-meter wide open. (Jonny Whiteside)


Tierra at Stingers, Pocket Change at Stingers, 194 West Club Center Drive, San Bernardino, (909) 872-0308; Sat., Mar. 14, 5:30PM; $15 at door ($10 presale)


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