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Boyle Heights' Phillips Music Co. tribute at California Plaza

August 26, 2011 |  5:16 pm

Phillips music company 
The former Phillips Music Co. store on Cesar Chavez Boulevard in Boyle Heights, which is getting a tribute this weekend at California Plaza, touched many L.A. artists over the decades.

Louie Perez and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos used to hang out there. Twin brothers Scott and Randy Rodarte of Ollin remember going there to test-drive the marimbas and eyeball the guitars.

"You couldn't jump on the drum set, but you could definitely shake things around," recalls Randy Rodarte. "The way it was set up, you could get lost in a corner. Because [owner Bill Phillips] had huge racks of sticks and mallets. You could grab a book and just sit somewhere and just go through it. It was cool."

Ollin is one of several L.A. bands and performers, many with eastside roots, who'll pay tribute to the musical instrument and record store in a Grand Performances multi-media program Saturday at California Plaza, including Little Willie G., Ruben "Funkahuatl" Guevara and the Eastside Luvers, La Santa Cecilia and Ceci Bastida.

Curated by USC professor Josh Kun and including appearances by storytellers Marisela Norte, David Kipen and others, the evening is shaping up as a nostalgic attempt to re-create the legendary store, which served a diverse community of Japanese, Mexican and Jewish residents from the late 1930s onward.

But the participants also hope the evening will summon the unique atmosphere of one of L.A.'s most historically and culturally rich neighborhoods. "The history of East L.A. music has been my thing," says Guevara, a Boyle Heights resident. "My history is really about East L.A. music, pushing it and preserving it."

Read the full L.A. Times story here.

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-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Scott Rodarte, from left, and Randy Rodarte of Ollin; Allan Phillips, son of the company's founder; and Ruben "Funkahuatl" Guevara. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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