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Stone Bridges of Understanding

On February 11, 2014, at a meeting of the Rotary Club of East Los Angeles, Stonebridge Entertainment‘s Gerald Ishibashi spoke about a project that he has recently undertaken to help transform the JACCC’s Aratani Theater from a Japanese American-focused venue into a multicultural hub that will build bridges of understanding within the east Los Angeles community and greater Los Angeles.

Gerald Ishibashi

Gerald, who was born in Boyle Heights’ White Memorial Medical Center and as a child moved with his family to the Imperial Valley, has always understood the interdependency of cultures. Gerald was born during a time when the East Side was comprised of ethnically-diverse neighborhoods. The Los Angeles Times’ Hector Tobar once described Gerald’s East L.A. as “a community that brought together working people from different races and creeds and made them all stronger in the process.” As such, it is not difficult to understand how Gerald not only identified as an Asian American, but also as a Chicano.

Gerald’s ability to connect with Mexican Americans explains his love for Chicano music and musicians such as the East Side’s Thee Midniters. As a young boy living in the Imperial Valley, Gerald was given a choice—a motorcycle (which every young man rode in the Imperial Valley) or an amplifier. Gerald chose the amplifier and began a path in the music business.

According to Gerald, music is a unifying factor that can bring people of disparate cultures together. His upbringing in the culturally diverse East Side and in the heavily migrant Imperial Valley gave him first hand knowledge of the unifying power of music and how it can act as a catalyst for action. These lessons were reinforced over the years as he worked as a professional musician and concert promoter.

Today Gerald is gratified to have an opportunity to live up to his namesake. Ishibashi translated into English means stone bridge. Gerald is tasked with building a bridge originating within the Japanese American community and its Aratani Theater in Little Tokyo, and ending in other ethnic communities. Gerald has chosen to begin with what he knows well and what is just a stone bridge away from the Aratani Theater—the Mexican American community of the East Side.

Gerald’s vision as a promoter for the Aratani Theater is to reinforce the “connective bond” between the Japanese American community and other cultures. Since so many Japanese American families in Los Angeles have historical ties to the Mexican American community it makes sense that the Aratani Theater reinforce the bond through culturally relevant programs that bring both Japanese Americans and Mexican Americans together.

Gerald’s first multicultural program at the Aratani Theater will take place on March 8, 2014. Gerald hopes to fill the 878 seat theater with fans of Chicano heavyweights Tierra, Thee Midniter’s Little Willie G, and Richard Bean AKA Mr. Suavecito.

According to Gerald, the Aratani Theater brings the community a high energy and emotional show delivered in a sophisticated fine listening environment. The size and acoustics of the facility will bring out the very best in the music. The people will bring back some amazing memories. And the event will bring together diverse cultures through the unifying power of music.

Tickets for the March 8th event can be purchased online at

Special thanks to the Rotary Club of East Los Angeles. The Rotary Club of East Los Angeles meets on the first three Tuesdays of each month at Tamayo Restaurant.


*This article was originally published on Jesse Torres’ website on February 16, 2014.


© 2014 Jesse Torres

aratani theater chicano culture East LA Imperial Valley JACCC little tokyo Los Angeles mexican americans multicultural music stonebridge entertainment