Peppy is Rockin’ The Planet
By Ramón Hernández
Singer, songwriter Emil “Peppy Castro” Thielhelm is “Rockin’ the Planet with The Greatest Story Ever Sung.”
The former Blues Magoos founding father, guitarist and vocalist, who composed the music and wrote the lyrics to every tune in this musical production, says the message in these songs – all based on the Bible – is to bring peace, love, acceptance, healing, hope and making the world a better place.
“My son, Jesse Castro, contributed to writing the music for five of the tunes; and June Rachelson-Ospa was a co-lyricist to about one-third of the songs,” Peppy said.
Giving the reader an insight on how this project came about and giving credit where it’s due, he added, “It all started four years when Steve Leber called me up at 8:30 a.m. on Christmas Day. And he’s Jewish, so I told myself, ‘this is going to be good,’ and it was.
“He woke up feeling the world was so screwed that he wanted me to write a show call ‘Rock the Bible.’ I thought it was a great idea, and I agreed. Hence, the play was conceived by Steve.”
For those not familiar with Leber, he began his career with the William Morris Agency, where he developed and handled music icons like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles’ Concert for Bangladesh, plus. And that was only the beginning for the behind-the-scenes entertainment entrepreneur who went on to guide virtually every name in baby-boomer entertainment. And at the time he called Peppy, he had just become chairman and CEO of Grandparents.com.
New York City-based Peppy was a member of the original 1968 Broadway “Hair” cast; and his songs have been recorded by Diana Ross, Cher, Kiss, plus many others. So, this world-class caliber play could have been cast and presented on Broadway. It could also have enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. So, why did he choose San Antonio?
“I met Jonathan Pennington through June (Rachelson-Ospa) when he did a showcase in New York; and, it was at that time that he asked if I would consider doing a version of ‘Hair’ at the Roxie. My answer was that I would rather do something original. He agreed and here I am,” Peppy said as he pointed to the Roxie’s main entrance.
“I came here not knowing what to expect, and I found a purpose,” said the award-winning playwright and multi-instrumentalist whose office walls are lined with Gold Records.
“Making new friends since I arrived and seeing the future in the kids in the play has become a blessing in disguise.”
“That’s right,” Jonathan added as he offered his analogy of the play. “God must be a teenager because of the things kids go through. Unlike churches that preach God’s fire and brimstone, God has shown me who he is through this production, which as the movie ‘Spiderman – Homecoming,’ contains a little humor. So yes, I think God is my super hero.”
While Leber, Pennington and Emmy-nominated Peppy may be the producers you never see, the ones who are going to impress, wow and amaze you are the cast members who will act and sing their way into your senses, your feelings and into your hearts. They are the stars.
Of course, our Lord and Savior gets universal top billing and the part of God is played by Paden Mercer. Starting out with the Book of Genesis, Sebastián Ramírez and Valeria Jauregui are cast as Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel are portrayed by Allan Jaurejui and Diego Jaurejui.
Then the evil Lucifer tries to steal the scene and Eve’s innocence with an apple as Sean Salazar enters the stage as Satan. However, Salazar later redeems himself as Noah with Jazmin Chacón at his side as Naamah.
We know we are surrounded by invisible angels. However, Savannah Mercer, Ivanna Danforth, Pauline Csitkovits, Yvette Cárdenas and Cristián Plata are five rockin’ angels that you will be able to see throughout each heavenly presentation in which the music is top gun.
It is said that “sometimes, music is the only medicine the heart and soul need,” so if you are feeling blue or just have plain humdrums, make a beeline for the Roxie Theater to go get a good dose of feel good contemporary rock music with a message that may change your life.
From “Creation,” “Seven,” “Make Us Over,” “Angel,” “The Ten Commandments” to “The People’s Hero,” “Flood of Love” to “Just One Love” plus 11 more tunes, be prepared to be transported to a level of peace, joy and delight as ten good-looking, wholesome, talented Alamo City teenagers and two preadolescents, sing, dance and tug at your heart strings.
“Rockin’ the Planet” can be seen at the Roxie Theater Performance House from March 29 to April 14. Performances are: Fridays @ 8:00 p.m.., Saturdays @ 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays @ 4 p.m. The Roxie Theater is located at 7460 Callaghan Road, Suite 333, San Antonio, Texas.
In closing, Leber is also known for his precedent-setting arena tour of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a project that was such a success that it became a viable industry model. Coupled with Peppy’s experience in “Hair,” don’t be surprised if “Rockin’ the Planet” does not wind up on Broadway, then taken on a national tour.
To purchase tickets and for more information, call 210-360-9180 or visit their website: www.roxietheatrecompany.com/on-stage/rockin-the-planet.
Also, be sure to read the article on Peppy Castro on page ______ in this issue to find out how he went from being one of the early pioneers of the psychedelic garage band rock era to rocking Christian music.
(Note: Jonathan Pennington is the owner and director of the Roxie Theater Performance House.)
From Blues Magoos and “Hair” to “Rockin’ the Planet” with “The Greatest Story Ever Sung”
By Ramón Hernández
Peppy Castro’s musical story is truly one of the greatest stories to be told for he has been here, there, everywhere; and he has done it all.
His musical journey began when he learned his first guitar chord as a result of being in a Christian church play at age 13.
“That’s when I realized that I could be a singer and musician,” Peppy said of his Christian upbringing and what he credits to be his biggest luence. “But,then you go through the rebellious years.”
The Long and Winding Road of Jimmy González
By Ramón Hernández
Was Jimmy González trying to tell us something through his music?
Normally, this writer would say, his most ‘recent CD,’ but in this case Jimmy’s latest production was his ‘last CD.’ And, the title to the last song, which was sung by Danny Ortíz was “The Long and Winding Road.”
The previous CD was titled “Que Cante El Mundo (Mi Dolor).” Today radio stations are playing his music all day long and fans are singing along in sorrow. And before that, he included “Porque Me Gusta a Morir” (“Because I Like You till Death”). Was the multi-Grammy Award winner telling his fans – between the lines – that he loved them until he died?
Jimmy Gonzalez of Grupo Mazz dies in San Antonio hospital
Gonzalez was taken to the hospital after his blood sugar dropped. Family members said he died around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Author: Rudy Trevino / KIII TV south Texas ABC
Published: 10:19 AM CDT June 6, 2018
Jimmy Gonzalez of Tejano band Grupo Mazz died Wednesday morning after being hospitalized in San Antonio, according to Gonzalez’ relatives.
Gonzalez was taken to the Methodist Hospital of San Antonio after his blood sugar dropped. Family members said he died around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
International Award-Winning Author to Speak at LULAC Convention
By Ramón Hernández
Emma González, an international award-winning author who lives in Edinburg, Texas, is one of three speakers that have been chosen to participate in a panel at this this year’s LULAC State Convention.
Dr. Juan Tejeda, a professor at Palo Alto College, and Dr. Emilio Zamora are the other two panelists.
La Ley de Tejas to Lay Down the Law during Cruise
By Ramón Hernández
Augustine Ramírez aka La Ley de Tejano is ready to play sheriff during the November Soul Cruise.
“That’s right, I’m going to lay down the law,” the Grammy Award winner said.
“And the law is, for everybody to have a good time, to get down and have fun! I know I plan to have fun.”
In view of this being Augustine’s first time at sea, when asked what he looks to in regard to the cruise, he said, “I think I need one, really, because I need to take a break and just enjoy the experience. I’m excited about this new adventure. I want to savor it all; frog legs, escargot, and you name it.
“A lot of my friends will be on this cruise, so I look forward to spending time with them and also make new friends.
“I’m not going to lock myself in my cabin and order my meals because I intend to make myself accessible to the fans. Esa es la ley, that’s the law.”
Although Augustine is a genuine living Tejano music legend, the following mini bio is provided so our younger readers can learn a little bit of his musical history.
As most Chicanos during the rocking 1950s, Augustine joined Los Jesters in 1957. A year later, he became the lead singer for Los Dominos, another rock’n’roll band.
Next came stints singing harmony, and as a guitar player with Los Latinos de Fred Salas plus the Roy Montelongo Orchestra.
“I knew all of Isidro López’s songs, so when Fred would take a break, he would let me sing a couple of tunes. After getting the experience of three bands under his belt, he formed his own orchestra and recorded his first album with Disco Grande in 1962.
“I was lucky in that I was at the right place at the right time when Fred (Salas) asked me to sit in with during a gig at the Manhattan Club in Dallas,” Guti, as he is also known continued.
“The venue is where El Zarape Records owner, Johnny González, and Capri Records owners, Luther and Vivian de la Garza would hold their dances.
“When Fred took a break and I sang a couple of songs, Johnny heard me. He liked what he heard and offered me a contract with his label. What I didn’t know is that Little Joe’s contract was about to expire and he was looking for a replacement. Then he asked (Little) Joe to take me on tour as his opening act. What a break. What luck!”
Long story short, Ramírez considers “El Barco Chiquito,” which went Gold, as the song that opened the doors for him as a solo act.
Although “Aquella Noche,” “El Gusto es Suyo,” “Damelo” and other productions made Billboard’s “Hot Latin LPs” charts, the Lockhart, Texas-native considers “Tres Ramitas,” “Paloma Dejame Hir” and “Sangre de Indio,” to be his fan’s favorite tunes.
As for his moniker, the Tejano Music Hall of Fame inductee said, “It was Chicago’s famous Zunigas that baptized me with that name, ‘La Ley de Tejas,’ back in the ‘60s.”
Ramírez, who has received the “Keys to the City of Beeville” and was honored with a Proclamation of “Augustine Ramírez Day” in Lockhart, continues to perform all over the Southwest, plus as far as Wyoming plus Kansas and the Tri-State area of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
One of the latest honors bestowed on Guti is the inclusion of a leopold-print vest he wore on a 1960s poster and later CD in the “Legends of Tejano Music” exhibit at the Wittliff Collections located in the seventh floor of the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University.
The exhibit includes stage outfits and personal items owned by Little Joe, Sunny, Freddie Martínez, Rubén and Alfonso Ramos, Carlos Guzmán and countless other legends.
On the female vocalist side, there are dresses and costumes that were worn by Lydia Mendoza, Laura Canales, Patsy Torres,on up to Elida of Avante, Shelly Lares and Isabel Marie.
The exhibit just opened its doors and will remain up until December 20. Now, getting back to the cruise, if you have never cruised, don’t just put it in your ‘bucket list,’ do it. Go to www.tejanosoulcruise.com and sign up.
Then get ready to put on your dancing shoes and “tighten up’ to the music of Archie Bell of the Drells. Or, just kick back and enjoy the soul filled voices of Jimmy Edward, Joe Jama and Chris Q.
Other Tejano artists scheduled to perform are Ram Herrera and Charanga King Hugo Guerrero. For eye-candy, girl watchers can feast their eyes on Stephanie Lynn, Candace Vargas and Tracy Pérez as they dance and belt out their hits.
Then there’s MC2, the Mambo Jazz Kings, and Los Hermanos Cortez, plus Avizo and Wild Bill Perkins’ all-star cruise band backing up all the acts. In other words, there’s something for everybody.
Your host and emcee for this fun time cruise will be Houston’s Ms. Bea Zarate and Jumpin’ Jess. The price of the cruise, which sets sail from Galveston on Monday, November 13 and returns on November 18, includes fees, gratuities, food, room and entry to all shows.
No passport is needed for U.S. citizens, but a birth certificate is mandatory. And don’t’ forget that acting cruise sheriff ‘La Ley de Tejas’ is laying down the law.
“That right,” Ramírez reiterated, “For everybody to have a good time, get down and have fun. That’s the law!”
Story by: David A. De La Rosa
Photographs by: Joseph Martinez
Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2017
This past weekend I attended San Antonio’s fifth installment of our local pop culture festival known as the Alamo City Comic Con (May 26th – 28th at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center). Convention goers’ have a chance to cut loose and let their inner geek out. This event allows the attendees the opportunity to dress up in costume and in makeup as their favorite superheroes or villains. It’s very common to see a whole family; mom, dad, and the kiddies dressed as their favorite hero’s.
Story by: David A. De La Rosa
Photographs by: Joseph Martinez
Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2016
It seems during the fall, in recent years, there is one event that I impatiently look forward to attending, and that is the Alamo City Comic Con (Oct 28th – 30th at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center). Throughout the rest of the year I miss the spectacle, and festival like atmosphere of our local celebration of pop culture. This year’s addition, the fourth year of this pop culture festival had many highlights, but also a few disappointing aspects, which will be discussed at the end of this article.