“I bought the rights to Mariah’s music and my dear friend and producer/songwriter Peter Diaz, with a tiny bit of help from me, rewrote the lyrics in Spanish and published it on his label, Pyramid Records,” said Vicente. Again Vicente says sales were dismal.
Vicente started singing when he was 12 years old, as he was growing up in the East River Projects in New York City’s famous “El Barrio” section of The City. His influences were Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, Smokey Robinson and later Joe Bataan, Cheo Felciano, Jimmy Sabater and The Joe Cuba Sextet, who also rerecorded one of his father’s songs. Vicente’s father was a song writer in the 50’s. “Over two hundred artists have remade my dad’s songs. He was a great song writer”, said Vicente proudly when talking about his dad.
Vicente grew up singing r& b and doo wop and eventually after a time with a couple of groups he settled in with a Jersey City based group originally from the 1960’s called the Heartaches, which he said was the best vocal group in their era. According to Vicente his tenure with the Heartaches was nothing short of spectacular.
They were regulars on the Brosche circuit in the Catskills, on demand for weddings and local night clubs, and they were the opening act for the Righteous Brothers, Imus, Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge, Frankie Limon’s Teenagers (Lymon had already passed years earlier), Shalimar, The Drifters and they played at Madison Square Garden as part of Richard Nader’s famous doo wop series in the mid 1980’s
“ I know that technically I kind of already had my moment but I’m still not ready to quit singing or trying to get a hit record”, said Vicente who also kept reminding me to call him DjRv.
Today, Vicente’s monika actually has a reason to be. He currently hires out as a Karaoke host and music deejay and has been at it now for about 13 years. He can be found, if you like to sing, at Abbeys Pub on Monmouth Street, Downtown Jersey City. By the way I forgot to mention that he has spent the better part of his adult life in Jersey City. He and his family moved to Jersey City in 1965. But I digress; he’s at Abbey’s Pub every Thursday where he and his many friends sing from 8pm to closing.
Abbey’s is his latest venue but over the years Vicente, I mean DjRv, has been the karaoke host at a number of places around Northern New Jersey. “I have a decent following because I have lots of songs, I play dance music in between the singers and I have studio quality sound”, said DjRv.
So I had to ask, when do you find time to work on your songs? Quick to answer, Vicente says he never stops working on trying to put together that possible hit record. “I have a rehearsal studio in my apartment so I’m in there every day”, said DjRv. According to Vicente he’s working with beats he is planning to buy from beat writers on “the Net” and will then look for someone who can write poetry to help him with lyrics. “This one won’t be in Spanish. This time I’m going pop or r&b in English, said DjRv.
Even though he knows it’s even harder to break in and get that hit when you’re older. Vicente said he doesn’t care about that; “I’m a Marine and Marines don’t quit,” said Vicente.
Of course since he said Marine, I had to ask. As it turns out Vicente joined the Marine Corps in 1965. After two years in different deployments around the world, he ended up in Vietnam; 1967 to 1968. While there he spent his time in what he called “Raider/Grunt Battalions” and in his 10th month during a search and destroy operation he was shot twice by a sniper and spent the next 10 months in an Army hospital in Okinawa. His final deployment after getting “fixed” as he put it, was home; the USA. In 1969 he got honorably discharged.
And of course that led to another conversation. Now, according to DjRv he is trying to also parley his disabled veterans status to get one of the newly allocated Cannabis Dispensary licenses being offered by Jersey City. So how close are you, I asked. “I’m close. I’m almost ready to submit my application. Disabled veteran status is one of, if not, the highest criteria taken into consideration by the evaluators, the state and the municipality you choose. Because of my DAV status I have as good a chance as anyone to get one of these very special licenses,” said Vicente.
New Jersey last year approved the sale of cannabis at local dispensaries and Vicente says he plans on getting one. But getting one won’t be so easy. He says that what’s holding him and others locals up is funding. “We local folks, who were not financially prepared for this very fast “breakout cannabis law” can’t get funds. “I can pay for the license but it takes big bucks to set it up and get open”, he said.
In the meantime he says he’ll keep hosting Karaoke and keep trying to record that first hit record. “I’m not ready to quit,” Vicente, I mean, DjRv insisted.