Spaghetti Cumbia with Donald Lewis (white shirt) and Luis Correa (far right)
In 1993, when Luis Correa started Steady Beat Recordings, ska was the life of the party. From backyard shows to barrio clubs and big-time venues, the revived sounds of 1960s two-tone were the soundtrack of most of Southern California. At the time, old-school island soul found favor in the Latin community from OC to LA and the South Bay where Correa grew up. The San Pedro label was a beacon of light for diehard SoCal ska fans, cultivated in a dark corner that much of the outside world barely knew existed.
Nearly 25 years later, the sound of Steady Beat continues to echo through the streets of San Pedro. On a recent Wednesday night, behind the door of a nondescript studio next to a neighborhood corner store less than a mile from the graffiti-painted Sunken City trail overlooking the coast, shards of light from a rotating disco ball illuminate a dark recording space. The Colombian grooves courtesy of East LA band Spaghetti Cumbia form a cocktail of rolling rawhide gumption spiked with the blood of Celso Piña. As amazing as it is, it doesn’t sound like the traditional ska that built the Steady Beat brand. For Correa, that’s exactly the point.
The expansion of the label’s repertoire over the years encapsulates a broader cross-section of Latin-infused music from traditional ska acts such as the Steady 45s to soul-inspired bands including Chicano Batman and psychedelic Cumbia punks Thee Commons, all of whom have recorded or done live shows with Correa in recent years.
“Every band I come across is a little different, but within the same type of vein, the…
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