“Eastside Heartbeats” is one of the few musicals ever written set in the sprawling Mexican-American communities of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. The story takes place during the summer of 1965, when the Beatles and Motown acts were releasing singles of ever-higher quality, thrilling East LA’s teenage audience. In the midst of this environment, charged with the passion and energy of youths claiming a new cultural space, four young men, the Eastside Heartbeats, are desperate to make a record. The leader of the group, Jimmy Ramirez, is a 24-hour-per-day soul music machine, exploding with charisma and rhythm.

But his dad doesn’t share Jimmy’s dream. In fact, Carlos Ramirez wants his son to quit music altogether, and get a real job fixing cars. Carlos is a stubborn and proud first generation Mexican immigrant who despises rock and roll and rhythm and blues. The two of them fight their own version of the culture wars, with a generational and inter-ethnic twist. Carlos hates the stuff that Jimmy plays, and Jimmy hates the stuff that Carlos plays. These angry and determined men have reached a musical impasse, with no resolution in sight.

“Eastside Heartbeats” tells the story of four young Mexican-American men trying to make it in the highly competitive music business. In the process, this talented group has to overcome the objections of parents and longstanding cultural and societal biases. Discouraged and deflated, they are on the verge of quitting until their manager receives a fateful telephone call.

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Meet The Show Creators

Tom Waldman, Writer, "Eastside Heartbeats" In 1981, Tom Waldman and David Reyes interviewed Frankie Garcia, “Cannibal” of the 1960s vocal group Cannibal and the Headhunters. They met Frankie to learn the history of the group, including the incredible story of how four Latino kids from the projects got to open for the Beatles on the second half of their 1965 American tour.
The Chicago pop music scene in the mid-1960’s was an exciting time. With the blending of old Chicago blues with the new British Invasion, a whole new sound was being created in the Windy City. Small, Chicago, indie record labels gave local teen talent a chance to get their music heard for the first time. One of the most prolific young writers and producers of the day in Chi Town was Jimmy “Soul” Holvay.
Born at an early age in Tokyo, Keyboardist / arranger Gary St.Germain wanted to be Ringo Starr when he grew up.That didn’t come to pass (being Ringo or growing up), so he became an elementary music teacher. After attending CSU Fullerton and CSU San Bernardino (BA, MA, Dr. Pepper, Magna Too Loud), Gary’s teaching style developed into a combination of Mr. Holland and Mr. Kotter.
Benjamin Perez (Director) originated the role of Hal Fisher in the acclaimed and sold-out 2016 production of EASTSIDE HEARTBEATS. He went on to cover the role of Carlos Ramirez in the May 2016 extension. In 2015, he played “Senator Max Evergreen” in the national tour of NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, with original direction and choreography by Kathleen Marshall.
Waldman was also the creator and host of Rock and Roll Stories, a 60-minute interview show that ran on KLCS, the only PBS station in Los Angeles, from 2013 to 2015. In 2014, he had as his guest, James Holvay, who wrote ”Kind of a Drag,” “Don’t You Care” and other national hits for the Buckinghams in 1967.