By Antonio Mejías-Rentas
BOYLE HEIGHTS — When Corky Dominguez first interviewed with the producers of a new musical about the vibrant music scene in East Los Angeles in the early 1960s, he tried to convince them that he was the right person to direct “Eastside Heartbeats.”
“The story resonated with me so well because I grew up in East LA during that time,” said the veteran stage director, choreographer and educator, who was a young child in 1965, the year the musical takes place. “A lot of what I remember was more through my sisters. I had two older sisters that were in high school, and a lot of their excitement for the Beatles and all the East LA groups –the parties, the cruising, the battles of the bands– all those things I learned about through them.”
The producers were impressed. Domínguez directs the first fully staged production of “Eastside Heartbeats,” which opened last weekend at Casa 0101 in Boyle Heights for a short run through February 14. The musical is inspired by the story of Cannibal and the Headhunters, one of the most important musical groups to emerge from the so-called Eastside Sound.
The musical is the brainchild of Tom Waldman, who along with David Reyes wrote the book “Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock and Roll from Southern California.” In a video presentation for “Eastside Heartbeats,” Waldman drew a parallel between the East Los Angeles music scene in the 1960s and what was happening at the time in cities like Liverpool, England and San Francisco. “There were groups every week being formed,” Waldman said.
Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth and a sister website with stories also produced by community members “por y para la comunidad.”