Manny Huerta’s Modern Racket makes an impression beyond the Valley
■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
Manny Huerta is a 25-year-old 2011 graduate of San Jacinto High School and has musical ambitions that reach far beyond the Valley. However, his current focus is on bringing what he calls Modern Hippie music to the local community. “When I say hippy,” he explains, “it is not the sixties hippies of Timothy Leary.”
His band is called Modern Racket. “I got the name from noticing how everything seems to be modernized. We went from silent movies to talkies, from black and white to color and on to 3-D. It is not a new premise, I’m merely modernizing music that has been popular through the years. Elvis, The Beatles and Bob Dylan.”
Huerta believes in love and equality, but not the rampant drug culture of the sixties. “We use some of the current trends to make tried and trued music into the 21st century.” He takes retro and puts a modern spin on it.
Huerta is not native to the San Jacinto Valley. “I grew up in Baldwin Park, a part of Los Angeles. My family moved to San Jacinto eight or nine years ago. I discovered the guitar when I was thirteen or fourteen and didn’t know I could sing until a year or so later. That’s when I started a band.” Before the music bug bit him he was just another kid on skates having fun with friends.
“I want to create shows. That’s how I developed the idea for a music festival. It is all about reality. My girlfriend and I have attended a lot of music festivals and we liked them. That’s how I developed the idea of festivals in the Hemet San Jacinto area,” said Huerta.
“We want to bring something to the valley that is usually not seen here. Going out of town to concerts and festivals is costly, especially for kids without cars and limited sources of income. But I’m not just aiming at my own age group. I want to draw folks of all ages who, when they hear us play, will say ‘I know that song, but it has a new twist to. I like that music.’”
So far he has done quite well with his “Modern Racket.” He gives credit to some local impresarios who have supported his ideas: “Julio Guez at Harvard Street Music and Jesse Vivanco at The Wheelhouse have been a great inspiration to me. I’ve seen the way they encourage young musicians around here, helping local kids with music in their hearts.”
However, Huerta isn’t just another guitar twangler. He knows his music and has a backup job as an personal assistant for event planners where he is learning the ground rules of how an event is set up; the planning and preparations required to bring music to the clubs and stages. “That’s something I pay a great deal of attention to. If I know how that part works, the music will take care of itself.”
His girlfriend Lupe supports him. “We met in high school and I’m in for whatever he wants to do. When we started dating he would play music for me. Serenade me, and I’d never had a guy serenade me like that,” said Lupe.
Manny interrupted her, “See guys? It works.” They share a playful sense of humor. She continued by saying, “I’ve seen his music evolve and watched him perform before large crowds of people. He’s got something special. I’ve been in the Valley my entire life and grew up going to shows. I think some sense of music got lost along the way and we’d like to bring back with a modern twist, whether it is youth or adult music with a touch of difference.” The word ‘modern,’ permeates their conversation.
Huerta’s most memorable performances took place at the fabled House of Blues in Hollywood where he opened for some big names and at a Los Angeles Music Festival called Echo Park Rising. “We tried to be a part of that festival for four years and finally made it this year.”
He’s played on radio and has had gigs in a lot of Southern California venues. He likes to play his own music – yes, folks, he is also a songwriter. His Modern Racket band consists of four guys: himself on lead guitar and vocals, Brandon Biggers on rhythm guitar, Christopher Lar on the drums (also a partner in his Modern Hippie Fest) and Armando Flores on base.
Although he’s not yet to be seen on television, that’s something he looks forward to. But for now you can find his group on Spotify, Amazon Music, Youtube and pretty much wherever else music is downloaded online.
In his most recent festival at the Wheelhouse in Hemet, he oversaw eleven different artists and bands in an all day event. That’s quite a feat for someone beyond his years. “I don’t think about age,” he says. “Just get the job done and make people happy.” It is rather common for artistic souls to excel in other art forms outside their profession.
Does he? “He does,” says Lupe. “He is great at interior designs,” which he sheepishly agrees. “My room is in a flux of constant change. Just as in my music, I like to rearrange things.”
Modern Racket released their first album “Today’s Riddle,” in 2017 that is available on Spotify and Apple music.
If movie star looks, personality, abundant talent and ideas will take an artist to the top of the heap, this young man and his entourage should push right through to more successes. Keep an eye out for this group. They may just be the real deal. Just sayin’