Before Jewel and blink-182, San Diego's most successful recording artist of the '90s was six-member reggae band Big Mountain. In 1994, the band's remake of Peter Frampton's "Baby I Love Your Way" made it to number 6 on Billboard's singles chart.
Quino (Joaquin McWhinney), a 1984 graduate of Crawford High, fronted Big Mountain, which toured until 2000. Quino now lives in Imperial Beach and plays Chicano protest rallies with his new band, Quinazo.
"On May 1, we're gonna shut this country down," Quino says of the planned work stoppage to protest proposed anti-immigration laws. One of Quinazo's new songs, "Living in a Border Town," slams the Border Patrol: "You see women and children get hunted down / Silly fools in their big green vans / Viciously attempt to keep a people from their motherland."
"I was always a proud Chicano in love with reggae," says Quino. "I've always been a revolutionary. I thought Bob Marley was a revolutionary with a guitar in his hand.... Many of those kids [in the recent student marches] are children of undocumented parents, and they see their parents living in fear. They see their parents worrying about going to the shopping mall and getting arrested by la migra. The beauty of this is there are no leaders in this movement. It is spontaneous."
Quinazo (www.gigantedespierto.com) appears Saturday at the Belly Up Tavern.