Iconic lowrider oldies compilation East Side Story to be explored as a video series
by Allen Thayer
“Is this your tio?”
“Is this your Moms and pops?”
With these questions, Chicana DJ and East Side Story Project founder Melissa Dueñas started her research and hunt for the faces and backdrops from the legendary East Side Story LP compilations of classic and forgotten doo-wop and soul music. Initially relying on Facebook and Instagram, Dueñas posted photos from the twelve-volume set of LPs, originally released on vinyl in ’70s, with the questions from above. Now available as a CD box-set, the series is known as much for its uniform cover photos and layout, depicting Chicano lifestyles and (with one exception) cars below crude graffiti lettering, as they were for their impeccable curation of gente favorites, with a D.I.Y. feel and paper trail.
Thanks to her Facebook and Instagram posts being shared throughout the Southern California Chicano diaspora, eleven of the twelve locations featured on LP covers have been identified within the greater East Los Angeles area. Several people on the covers have been identified, primarily through their families via social media. Dueñas is also still actively searching for remaining unidentified persons on the covers. If you recognize anyone or happen to know where Vol. 11 was photographed (good luck, unless you happen to know someone in the photo), post a comment below!
Dueñas decided to take her project to the next level as a documentary web series, which will allow participants from the covers to share their story in a more direct fashion. As a web series, Dueñas will also be able to share the history with a broader audience, extending beyond Chicanos to music/vinyl enthusiasts worldwide.
Preliminary interviews have been conducted in-person and via phone. Most recently Dueñas met and interviewed the East Side Story creator, Mr. B. Historical and archival research has been completed in consultation with community historians including: native L.A. record collectors; independent record labels; L.A. area car club members; independent record store owners; former writers and photographers for Lowrider magazine and Chicanx music experts.
Currently East Side Story Project is campaigning on Kickstarter to raise enough funds for the first two episodes of our documentary web series with production set for early 2017. Dueñas teamed up with her now co-director/producer Gloria Morán, who is a seasoned documentary director and producer who focuses on Chicanx content in much of her work. Together, they will reveal not just the who’s and where’s of these iconic, sonic artifacts, but the stories behind the gente on these cherished LPs covers.
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