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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Ronnie Tee Is a Chip off the Ole Block

RonnieT-RudyTee-ReducedRonnyTeeJumps-RedBackground-Reduced-Captioned Photos by Ramón Hernández

Tee N Tee translates to dynamite, but where can you get two Tee’s for the price of one??

Rudy Tee of the Reno Bops and his son Ronny Tee will be performing at the St. Pius X Catholic Church, 3909 Harry Wurzbach Rd, on Saturday, February 9 for their Annual Valentine Dance.

Ronny will be opening the show for his legendary, famous father and for those that have never seen Ronny in action they are in for a surprise. Both father and son dance, but Ronny’s dance steps are more up to date; and most of his Spanish-language pop, hip hop, reggaeton, cumbia repertoire consists of original tunes penned by him and Jeff Reynolds.

“As a singer-songwriter, I am proud that ‘Jerry Springer Fan,’ which I recorded with Barefoot, was selected for the national show’s closing credits,” Ronny said during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

As a vocalist, in 1989 he and Emilio’s sister, Yvette Navaira, he formed part of Éxito. Since then, he has done it all, radio, television, film, studio recordings, became co-owner in a record label and formed his own DJ karaoke service.

“And I know this is way off, but I recently added comedian and puppeteer to my résumé, but I’m not a ventriloquist,” Ronny added.

Next came stints with Tazz, Modelo in duo with Marcos Antonio Baszulda; Europa, Flash Electric, 96 Degrees and Barefoot finally forming the Ronny Tee Band in 2012.

“I spun off into my own band because I wanted to start recording cumbias and Tejano music again. And as for being a musician, I can play bass, accordion and bongos for myself, but I do not think that I could do it for anybody else,” Ronny said with a laugh.

As an actor, Ronny has appeared in five full-length films – “Selena,” “8 Seconds,” “Lost Angels, Party Girl and “The Tejano Kid.”

On television, the 43-year-old musician was host of Rock the World and he was a dancer on Bailando, a show hosted by Franco, Miami Nights and Jammin.

“And now I have a new CD,” Ronny said as he handed me his latest compact disc, which features his daughter, Alizandra, on the cover; and his step-daughter, Amanda, on the back cover.

The CD, “Cumbia N Roll,” features guest vocals by his father on “Coconut Girl,” Stefani Montiel on “La Lavadora” and Liz Ann Gómez on “Hula Hoop Cumbia.” Liz is the daughter of Chris Gómez, a guitarist with Sunny and the Sunliners. Then there’s a re-mix of “Chili Con Queso,” by Gabriel Zavala.

“Tiembla Nena” got airplay all over West Texas plus many independent radio stations and the entire CD was featured on the Tejano Y Mas television show several times. Furthermore our video for ‘Teibolera’ has reached over 9,000 viewers on YouTube,” Ronny added.

“I’d also love for everyone to go to www.facebook.com/ronnyteefanpage and put ‘Like’ on my page. For samples of my music, check me out on ‘itunes’ and to check out my puppetry, go to www.youtube.com/ronnytee1.

“A little known fact is that we also go by Barefoot when we play at elementary schools under the North Side Independent School District program called ‘Math Rock’ and this year alone, we will be performing at 45 schools.”

Now that you have been enlighten with Ronny Tee’s accomplishments, achievements and talent, this writer suggest you come and find out why he is so in demand at conventions and many elite private functions and events.

Above all, don’t forget that the main act will be none other than Rudy Tee Gonzales. The Valentine Dance is BYOB and sponsored by Knights of Columbus Council 4298. Tickets can be obtained by calling David Sánchez at (210) 440-4411.

After you see Ronny Tee in action, you’ll want to book him and to do so, just call him at (210) 313-3644.

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Ronny Tee at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives office

Mexican Stepgrandfather’s Secret Identity Revealed

MarcoCervantes-2 Photo by Ramón Hernández

Mexican Stepgrandfather and Marco Antonio Cervantes, Ph.D. are a study in contrasts since they are one and the same. But what each does is different and worlds apart.

Simply known by the shorter version, Mex Step was selected “Best Hip Hop Artist” during the 2009-2010 San Antonio Current Music Awards poll by popular vote. In the same contest, his compact disc, “Stand for Something 2012” on the Hip Hop Grew Up label, came in as the “Number 2 Album of the Year” of all combined music genres.

During the same period, as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he completed his doctorate at the university’s English Department with a focus on Black and Latina/o Literature, Cervantes was awarded a Ford Dissertation Fellowship for his work on African American and Mexican cultural interconnections.

As Mexican Stepgrandfather, Cervantes professes the complexities of Mexican American culture and identity in national and international concerts. Therefore, there are his academic standing and his standing as a hip hop artist. That’s quite a stretch for the once little kid who was first influenced by the music of Fito Olivares and Rigo Tovar, especially his version of “El Pipiripau” – all music that came out of his grandmother’s (Anita Garza De La Rosa) radio and record player, plus some disco and country, which his parents (Louis and Esmeralda Cervantes), listened to.

“It felt as though music moved my soul and then my parents bought me a little keyboard on which I memorized a little tune and tried playing it like Herbie Hancock,” Cervantes said during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

“I was in the seventh grade in Hambrick Middle School when a lot of people were getting into rap in the cafeteria and I liked it. I also like the idea of putting thoughts into music and that’s when a couple of classmates and I formed Sound Effect. Why that name? Because we wanted to make an (audio) effect with our sound,” the Houston-native said.

In 1992, Cervantes joined the Bass Tribe, a trio of Afro Americans – Charles Johnson, Jerry Henry and Jeffery Henry. The foursome all wrote and rapped so shortly thereafter they
entered a professional recording studio to record a CD of all original songs.

When the Henry twins left to attend college, Cervantes and Johnson forged ahead as Wasted Youth; and in 1994 they released “Get Wasted” as a vinyl single. That record was recently available on e-bay for $100.

“Our logo was a trash bag looking thing and we gave away decals and you could see those stickers all over the neighborhood and as you walked into our school,” the 37-year-old ultra- educated rapper continued.

That same year, Cervantes graduated from Douglas McArthur High School in Houston, joined the U.S. Army and was ultimately stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he continued to write and listen to Wu-Tang Clan, a hip hop band; Sublime, a ska punk band; and Cypress Hill, the first Cuban American/Latino hip hop group to have worldwide platinum and multi-platinum albums.

Cervantes was a Spec 4 when he received his honorary discharge, went back to Houston and joined Revolt of the Sun for whom he would make all the music and Jesús Ávila would make all the beats.

In 2002, the Army veteran received his Bachelor of Arts in English, cum laude from the University of Houston-Downtown and the following year he moved to San Antonio to be in the graduate school Latin literature program at UTSA.

“My grandmother had remarried (I was not born) and when my step-grandfather Tony De La Rosa (not the conjunto musician) passed on, he left me a lot of Mexican records, which I would play in between hip hop tunes and everybody went crazy dancing all the polkas. So when I started DJing, I took the name of Mexican Stepgrandfather.

“While doing that, I was still rapping and I sample a lot of old Mexican music. I have a drum machine and a sampler so I play an old song for about a measure. I got the loop and when it’s looped just right, I add the drum machine, mix the two combinations of drums and sample. So a lot of those beats are remade from a remix of old records.”

By this point in his life, Cervantes had already learned to play bass, guitar and drums.

“And as (Mexican rapper) Bocafloja, I kind of started early because rap is a big movement here. Another part of my music is where I put my identity and culture into it, talk about border issues and discrimination in the United States.

In doing research for his dissertation, “Afro-Mestizaje: Tracing Blackness in Tejano Fiction, Poetry, and Music” and for other subjects of discussion, Cervantes noted that a lot of our history is missing in text books, for example slavery in the history of the Alamo. Therefore the UTSA assistant professor started inserting some history into his lyrics.

“Reading a lot about the Chicano movement also influenced me in shaping my music. So my music is educational. It’s scholarly rap,” the 5-foot-6-inch tall singer-songwriter-educator said.

In 2009, circa the same time he obtained his doctorate in Latino literature, Cervantes released his “Estere-Ere-O” compact disc and that translated into lots of gigs here and in Austin plus a demand for him to perform in Mexico and Spain.

This CD includes congas by Jai and additional vocals by Vocab and Joaquin in “The Money” plus guest vocals by Astex y Lupho de Ultimatum in “Con Mi Gente.” Jai also added some vocals in “Caminos.”

In “A Stereotype,” which features a pop bolero beat, the doctor of philosophy in English blends the feeling of a ciudadano Mexicano and a Tejano-pocho-chicano, who share the same stereotype working for minimum wage washing dirty ass dishes in a restaurant, getting s …t on and asking themselves the same f…king question as they work together to make things better for down and out Mexicans from different areas breaking barriers under the same order separated by a language and border.

In “Texas Mexican,” a rap tune with a Mexican beat, the Chicano role model reveals that since he was young, that’s what he considered himself, “in Spanish, I’m an hermano Tejano because in Mexico they know I’m not from Mexico.”

“Con Mi Gente,” the catchiest tune in the CD, starts with a sampling of “Fiesta Negra” as Mex Step sings, “Azteca rapiando con el abuelo Mexicano.”

“Mexican Stepgrandfather,” as one might guess is autobiographical and if this writer miss-understood any portion of these tunes, it must have been due to the generation gap.

A year later, he recorded “Occupied State” and his popularity soared even higher.

“Over the last year, I teamed up with Charles Peters “Easy” Lee of Mojo, who is signed to the Matthew Knowles label. He’s also the poet who found a poetry night in S.A. called Second Verse, has released two books and done educational tours,” Cervantes said of his colleague.

“We had been talking about doing a music project together and ended up doing a group album, “Stand for Something / Afro American Meets Mexican American” as Third Root. In this CD, in I mention Sunny (Ozuna), Steve Jordan, Flaco Jiménez, Latin Breed, Randy Garibay and other SA musical icons in the lyrics. To listen to these shout-outs, go to http://thirdroot.bandcamp.com/track/bendici-n-down-in-sa-featuring-henry-the-invisibles-dj-chicken-george-prod-mexican-stepgrandfather.

On January 20, Third Root also celebrated the release of “Mind Elevation” with DJ JJ López, Pop Pistol, Vocab and Greg G.

Up to this point, few people knew Mex Step’s real name so this article is like everyone finding out that Superman’s real identity is Clark Kent.

To learn more about Cervantes as a scholar, go to http://education.utsa.edu/bicultural-bilingual_studies/profile/mcervantes, http://utsa.edu/today/2009/05/cervantes.cfm or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdgG4LqIsIM.

To see the mild-mannered professor turn into the animated Mexican Stepfather in action, check out his twenty music videos on www.youtube.com and for booking, email him at mexicanstepgrandfather@gmail.com and marco.cervantes@utsa.edu.

Carlos Miranda is A Walking Miracle

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Photos by Ramón Hernández/Hispanic Entertainment Archives

Don’t listen to any of the rumors and don’t give up on Carlos Miranda because El Minero de Nueva Rosita is a fighter.

Todavia tengo el gusanito de cantar” (“I still have the bug to sing”), the singer-songwriter said during an interview at the Trisun Care Center on Lakeside Parkway.

Miranda was born on October 11, 1939 in a ranch in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico. However, his parents did not register him at the court house until March 11, 1940. This is the reason some bios state one birthday and others his real date of birth. So he is 72 or 73 depending on which birth certificate you cite.

Shortly after entering the United States through Eagle Pass, Texas in 1961, he joined Joey López y Los Guadalupanos, which also featured Mingo Saldivar on accordion. In the mid-1960s, he joined Los Pavos Reales featuring María Elena Castañon as the female vocalist.

By the mid ‘70s, Miranda had achieved musical idol status and women would scream their lungs out at the mere mention of his name and when he stepped in front of the microphone, women stampeded their way to the stage in Chicago and San Nicholas de La Garza, Nuevo León.

It was during this period that Miranda performed at the Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles, El Aragon in Chicago plus four Mexican states and in states such as Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington where few Tejanos fail to venture to in this day and age.

After the success of “Necesito Hablar Con Dios,” “Mi Piquito de Oro” and ‘Junta Tus Garras,” the latter two hits on Freddie Records, he went from sharing the stage with Little Joe, Sunny and the Sunliners, Alfonso Ramos, Roy Montelongo, Conjunto Bernal, Rudy and the Reno Bops and José Alfredo Jiménez to opening for Vicente Fernández Javier Solís, Yolanda Del Rios, Los Bukis and Julio Iglesias.

In 1986, Miranda reunited with Manny Guerra and recorded “Fuimos Dos,” a duet album with Laura Canales. The hits continued through the ‘90s with “El Minero” for CBS Records followed by “El Reniego” for RP/Discos Sony.

In 2008, Pablo Montero recorded the Miranda penned “Mi Piquito De Oro.” The following year Montero filmed the video for it and the tune was also featured in “Olivadarte Jamás,” a telenovela on Univision. Today one can find at least four of Montero’s versions on You Tube plus one by Ramón Ayala y Los Bravos Del Norte.

In September 2010, when this writer visited Miranda at his Seguin, Texas home, his wife, Bertha Carrillo Miranda, revealed that physicians had diagnosed him with lung, prostrate and colon cancer in December of 2008; and he was undergoing bi-monthly chemo-therapy treatments that sapped the energy out of him, yet he continued to tour.

During that interview Miranda said, “You can die at home, on the road, on stage, anywhere. And I know that I’m going to die, but I’m not going to stay home and wait to die. Although the chemo is painful, it does not affect my strength and hitting the road to tour gives me more courage because the road is my personal therapy.”

Miranda continued to tour and in doing so became a walking miracle because he surpassed the life expectancy that doctors had predicted.

A good example of the multi-awards winning singer-songwriter tenacity and joy of life is in the “Pepe El Dulce” video he filmed a couple of months before he was diagnosed with cancer. Just go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqbrfVFHP88 to witness his animated vocal/dancing performance.

In 2011, along with Freddie Martínez, Sunny Ozuna, Augustine Ramírez and Joe Bravo, the 2000 Tejano Music Hall of Fame inductee became a part of The Legends Dream Team compact disc. This is the same year that he re-recorded “Junta Tus Garras,” which he co-wrote with Carlos Cardenas, as a duet with Carlitos, his youngest son, and it became a runaway hit.

The Nueva Rosita-native will also be glad to hear what Marc Martínez, the vice president and national director of promotions for Freddie Records had to say on Monday, January 21.

“Next on our list of honorees for a ‘Star’ on the Freddie Records Walk of Fame in front of our building is Carlos Miranda and his ‘star’ will be unveiled within the next four months.”

What is odd is that in spite of all the accolades, the one recognition that has evaded this 72-year-old living legend is induction into the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame. But induction also eluded Mario Vásquez, the musician that went down in history and has been acknowledged by scholars as “the first to play drums in a conjunto” in what began as an experiment by Valerio Longoria.

What also does not make sense is that artists in their thirties and forties have been inducted. Why they were not even born when the roots were sprouting and these pioneers blazed the trail during the 1940s to early 1960s. So there’s something wrong with this picture. Enough said.

Getting back to Miranda’s health, according to Irene, his youngest daughter, doctors recently performed surgery to fix his intestines, which were pushed out of their normal position by the large mass in his body and that mass has grown even more since then.

During the week of January 20, physicians put him back on chemo in order to shrink the mass, “but this time it’s in the form of a pill,” Miranda said.

“This is the only thing that is dragging me down, but I believe in Jesus Christ and each night I pray to God for all that are sick, especially the kids.

“Peace and happiness is the most beautiful thing there is and I pray that God give me more life because I want to go to churches to give my testimony, sing to Jesus Christ and record a Christian music album. However, God is the one that decides and if he is going to take me I’m ready. I’m saved and ready to go if it’s today, tomorrow or later,” Miranda said with a peaceful serene look on his face which gave way to a joyful smile and a twinkle in his eyes.

Dios es muy grande and I’m happy that my children are all here.”

On this particular day, Carlos was surrounded by Juan Carlos, Imelda and Irene, the children from his first marriage, to Alicia, the only one absent was Cindy. Carlitos, from his second wife, Bertha, was also there.

Then, one by one, musician friends, Jay García of Crusader Band, David Escalante of City Boyz, Jess Aguilar of Los Fugitivos and Juan Pérez trickled in. Miranda had invited them because he wanted to give an impromptu concert for the Trisun Care Center residents. So everyone went to the large rec room where Miranda led the musicians in singing “Mi Piquito De Oro,” “Un Dia a La Vez,” “Un Puño De Tierra,” “La Mucura” and other tunes.

Asked for some parting words, Miranda said, “Saludos to all the musicians that played with me. God bless them and protect them on the road. Y saludos a toda la gente, take care of yourselves, believe in Jesus Christ and know that I take your love in my heart. Now all I can do is pray to God that I die without suffering and if there’s anything I wish for, is that someone would form an organization to help out musicians.

“I know it wasn’t easy for the families of Esteban Jordan and Cha Cha Jiménez because dying is not cheap. So there needs to be some form of helping the loved ones of those left behind with expenses.”

For those who heard recent hurtful ugly rumors about Miranda, the reason he moved out of his home and in with Jess Aguilar is so he could be closer to his physician and the clinic where he was receiving chemo therapy in Converse, Texas.

In closing, don’t count this 72-year-old musical institution out because Miranda is a fighter. He has proven doctors wrong several times and I’m sure this won’t be the last. When you believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all things are possible with God, amen.

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Rick Orozco: I’m an American of Mexican Descent and “This is My Country”

 

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Photos by Ramón Hernández

“This is My Country” is a film documentary based on the obstacles that country singer Rick Orozco faced when he moved to Nashville in order to break into the American market.

“I grew up listening to George Strait and after seeing a George Jones and Tammy Wynette television special, I felt the calling to become a country and western artist,” Rick Orozco said.

“I was already singing country at six to seven years old and when I put Young Country, a country band, together when I was a sophomore at Clark High School. So I was singing professionally, for money on weekends through my high school years.

Rick’s band then consisted of Jason, keyboards; Mickey Cones, whose mother is one of the Cone Sisters, keyboards; Kevin, guitar; plus attorney Wayne Wright’s son, Cole Wright.

After Rick graduated in 1991, he left Young Country, hired a set of older musicians and started another band because as he says, “I wanted to go under my own name and do my own thing.”

Three years after graduating from high school, the singer-songwriter went into a studio and recorded a demo of his own compositions. Then he took his songs to Nashville, got a record deal with Artista Records and a publishing deal with EMI.

“I was signed within weeks, but then they didn’t know what to do with me and that’s where the problems started,” Rick continued.

“They started talking about how I was going to be released and how they could hide who I was, so they suggested changing my name and hiding my face.”

In the interment, in 1994 Rick recorded an album with Michael Martin Murphy and attended Belmont University where Brad Paisley was one of his classmates.

“In 1996, they released “Don’t Try to Find Me” without a picture as a gimmick in order to sneak me in and not let listeners know that I was Hispanic. They didn’t even put my name on the single since they were going to send out puzzles to let the people guess who the singer was because they were so terrified that the world would not accept a Hispanic country artist.

Rudy Sarno, who played bass with Quiet Riot, White Snake, Ozzie Osborne and Blue Oyster Cult added, “For a while I was angry at how they were because executives and marketing people are on you, on how to hide that you’re Hispanic and they hide you by not taking a picture of who you are and the essence of who you are. They’re signed a lot of Latinos, but they are afraid of what the world is going to receive a Latino country singer.”

“We had long conversations about Johnny Rodríguez, who had a hit before anyone realized that he was Hispanic, how Freddy Fender changed his name from Baldemar Huerta, how Charlie Pride wasn’t initial seen because there was no country television network at that time and they talked about they hid Raul Malo’s name by releasing his CDs as just The Mavericks. Rick Treviño came out at the same time, but he was light complected and had green eyes. In addition, Lee Treviño had already been accepted with that last name, so they just took the ‘ñ’ out of Rick’s name,” Rick continued.

“They did however release “Tejano Rose,” a Spanish tribute album to my heritage with the title tune inspired by Selena.”

After two years, I asked them to release my CD or release me. So they chose to release me, then Artista was shut down.

Rick was the one to go to Nashville, then the remaining members of Young Country followed and joined established prestigious country bands; and Cole became a huge publisher and had a couple of “number one’ hits.

“They too had a hard time, but not for the same reason,” Rick added.

“I had never spoken Spanish because my family always spoke English and I was playing honky tonk since I was probably 15 years old.

“I really never knew I was different until I went to Nashville. I had never experienced racism or discrimination until people came up to me and asked, ‘what kind of color are you? Or, what are you? I really didn’t know how to answer that question because I never knew I was different, until then. Before then, no one ever showed me that there was a different world,” the 39-year-old Hispanic country singer said.

“I guess that when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see Mexican American or Latino. I didn’t even know that those words existed.

“You could think, look at what these Hispanics went through when in reality every artist goes through this in some way, fashion or form because the media is cruel. The media will tell you that you’re not the right color, the right size or anything.”

Cuban born Sarno questioned the why in regard to racism when “we’re all in this same space (planet earth) breathing the same air.

 

As for the film documentary, Rick says he approached Aaron López about doing this film based on his experience after producing “Honky Tonks and Cantinas” for Michael Salgado after childhood friend David Reyes told him about this great film crew called Mutt Productions.

The result is “This is My Country,” which also features some commentary on racism and discrimination from various American artists of Hispanic descent.

Bobby Pulido for example says, “The stereotype of the Hispanic is the guy that works in the fields … It’s going to take time, but the one thing I can tell you is the thing I am proud of is that for the most part, Hispanics get with the program.

“I may take us a little longer, but we’re proud to be American … the only difference between us and those others who sing country are the blue eyes.”

Blue-eyed Patricia Yvonne (Rodríguez) revealed that when she moved to New York, “to get more work I had to change my name and it’s helped me survive in more ways than one.

Augie Meyer said that when the Texas Tornadoes took off people would say, “They got a bunch of Mexicans playing accordion when there were actually three white guys in the band” and the only Latinos were Freddy Fender and Flaco Jiménez,

Rubén Ramos cited some examples of racism, but they weren’t tied in to music.

This is not a negative film documentary since both sides are presented in a well-balanced approach and most Americans of Cuban, Puerto Rican and Mexican descent agree that they all were initially attracted to and influenced by rock, country and western music, blues, Elvis Presley, the Beatles or other internationally famous white music icons.

As Carlos Álvarez said, “A genre is a genre. Good music is good music as is good lyrics, good structure and a good melody. So whether they like it or not, I think anyone that lives in America has been influenced by one type of American music.

The only Hispanics who downplayed discrimination in Nashville were Bobby Flores, who said, “I think right at first I did, but I don’t remember seeing it or feeling it.

Gabe García commentary was in part, “I think there’s only a small fraction, just a handful of Hispanics in country music and I stepped up and tried to bridge that gap. I said, ‘Let me just take a step because this is an awesome opportunity to bring Hispanics back to country music again.’ ”

“You go to Nashville and it’s an amazing journey … It has given me so much opportunity and knowledge.” But the truth of the matter as Edward James Olmos said is “Nashville has always been Nashville. It’s very hard to get in there no matter who you are. You just have to prove yourself.

This documentary, now available in DVD is also very educational as artists, songwriters and publishers such as the Bellamy Brothers, Larry Beaird, and Bart Butler give the view a music lesson or two.

It is fact that there are seven basic notes, A, B, C, D, E, F and G, but depending on the instrument, there are many octaves that these notes can be in. The seven note diatonic scale is do, re, me, fa, sol, la, ti and do, but it is the 12 note scale that western music is designed on.

Needless to say, all this can get complicated, but as Larry Beaird explained, “We all used the same notes, but in a different way … to make you happy, sad or in love. It (music) brings emotions out of you by everyone using the same notes, but in a different way.”

“It’s what you do with those notes,” Sunny Sauceda added.

No wonderful, many call music the universal language of love.

Above all, this DVD is full of lots of good music by a star-studded roster of musicians, which are all the aforementioned artists plus Joél Gúzman and Pam Tillis.

An extra added bonus is a 19-song compact disc engineered and mixed by David Buchanan; and over-dubbed by Tony González and Grammy award winning Gilbert “Gibby” Velásquez.

“I’m a Southern boy from way down South … and I’ll tell my stories from songs I sing … I made my way to Tennessee” are some partial lyrics from Rick’s autobiographical “Two Fiddles and Accordion.”

“I don’t want to go back to San Antone. I don’t want to feel like I’m not at home, no I can’t go back …” are the beginning lyrics to “I Can’t Go Back to San Antone.”

Other Orozco tunes on this CD are “Somethings Telling Me It’s Going to be Alright” in duet with Pam Tillis, “A Todo Dar,” a countrified Tejano tune; the haunting “Perdonala,” the super, catchy, melodic, highly danceable “Give Me A Squeeze” and “La Vida Es Buena” telling us that life is good.

Indicating that he planned to make the transition from the stage to producing, summing up the DVD and talking about the future, the San Antonio-native concluded, “For me, this is not a film of anger, but to show that we have the talent to shine. We’ve already been through the wars, the pitfalls and victories, so there’s no reason to go through that again.

“Now we don’t have to hide because we have a large base in the Hispanic population who has the buying power and we’re more Anglo than Hispanic. So my goal now is to find talent and promote young acts that can produce.”

To purchase a copy of the “This is My Country / Twin Fiddles and Accordion” CD/DVD, it is available at www.apple.com/itunes.

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Grupo Ondo is the Third Generation of Los Aguilares

Grupo Ondo

The legendary Los Aguilares have produced so many musicians that perhaps they should re-name themselves Los Conejos Musicales, the musical bunnies.

“Before we trace their bloodline to the third generation, let it be known that Maldad was the second generation of Los Aguilares because of my little brother Santos,” said Miguel Ángel Aguilar Sr.

Santos, drums; and J.R. Ramos, accordion; were 14 and 16, respectively, when they started playing with Los Aguilares. However, they were five and six when they mastered the musical instruments they now play.

The name might imply they are up to no good, but this “wicked” band, which was born out of “scandal,” is now producing lots of ‘good’ music.

Although both musicians formed part of Los Aguilares, both were simultaneously performing with Miguel Ángel’s Escandalo (Scandal) band when they branched out on their own.

“The idea to form our own group came after Los Aguilares’ gigs dwindled and we didn’t know if there was any room for us in the future,” J.R. revealed.

Grupo Ondo was an idea that Miguel Ángel Aguilar Jr. and Ricardo “Richard” Aguilar Medina had thought of bringing to fruition. The cousins and are Emilio Aguilar’s grandsons, so they were born into a musical family dynasty where they grew up as brothers.

“Grupo Ondo was born on New Year’s Eve 2011,” Miguel Ángel Jr. said. “We had kind of been trying to formulate this for a while and that night — during a Los Aguilares gig when we were helping out (great uncle) Genaro at a time I was also helping out Fito Olivares — we found the musicians

“Because Richard and I like to work as a partnership, I took the jump and left Fito to do our project.

Anthony Revilla, bass helped us out in the beginning and wound up being our bass player. Santos is also helping them out, but he is still with Maldad.

“The definition of hondo is ‘deep’ and we took that name because we believe that our roots are deep from the core. Our music is an innovative variety of styles from Tejano to Norteño and our musical concept is real deep, but still in the tradition of Los Aguilares. So we dropped the ‘h’ and named ourselves Grupo Ondo,” the 21-year-old bandleader continued.

“We pretty forced our first compact disc, “Se Busca / Grupo Onda 2012” on our own label, Prodigy Records, to get it out there and thanks to God we’re here. The first song we pushed was “Mi Pequeño Amor,” an old song we rejuvenated as a cumbia and we’re like to thank KEDA  for playing our music because shortly thereafter, we started doing big shows with Ramón Ayala, Limite, Bronco, Los Farias, Desperados and others.

“Now la onda is catching on to our music at a time when I didn’t foresee where I would be one year from when we started,” Miguel Ángel said with amazement of their overnight success.

The next tune, they will promo is “Ojos Cerrados,” a beautiful ranchera by Samuel Ramos. “We’re proud of that piece because no one else has it and hopefully Richard and I will soon get into the song writing process,” said the lead vocalist said.

Miguel Ángel Jr., lead vocals and bajo sexto; Richard, accordion and second voice; Anthony Revilla, bass; and Miguel’s uncle Santos on drums; are the young guns that make up Grupo Ondo and they will be one of the opening acts during their Great Uncles 53rd Anniversary Dance at the San Antonio Event Center on Saturday, January 19.­­

For bookings call Miguel Ángel Aguilar Sr. at AGL Entertainment (210) 978-2310.

The Permanence of the Seminal Los Aguilares

LosAguilares1946-BW-CaptionedLosAguilares1963-BW-Captioned2001-LosAguilares-CaptionedPhotos by Ramón Hernández / Hispanic Entertainment Archives

Few conjuntos can top the longevity of Los Aguilares who have endured the test of time and then more.

Their parents, Santos and Dolores Aguilar, were both musically inclined.  Their father played guitar, however, it was their maternal great uncles that influenced Frank, Emilio and Genaro Aguilar into becoming musicians.

“Our mother, an Elgin, Texas-native, was Galvan on her father’s side and Hernandez on her mother’s side.  Her uncles were Fernando and Armando Hernandez who together formed Conjunto Imperial, also known as Los Hermanos Hernandez.

“Once we reached school age, since we were from the ranch near Lytle, Texas, our father sent us to stay with our grandmother in San Antonio during the week so we could attend Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School,” Emilio said. “She lived on Elvira Street.”

“Each Friday, dad would take us back to pick okra and squash, than it was back to grandma’s house,” Emilio said during a 1985 interview at his barbershop on S. Gen. McMullen.

For the original Los Aguilares, it all started in 1950 when Frank learned to play on a Gene Autry toy guitar. A year later, their father bought 12-year-old Emilio an accordion at Bustamante’s Grocery Store on Laredo Highway. Frank was now playing bajo sexto.

“And I’ve been playing the tololoche since I was nine because upright bass players were rare. There was also a period I learned to play drums just to get it out of my system,” Genaro said with a laugh.

Shortly thereafter, the siblings and Emilio’s brother in law, Arturo “El Muñeco” Gutiérrez on drums, formed El Conjunto Guadalupano, but because of the rarity of being one of the few tololoche players, Genaro also sat in with Conjunto Imperial, which consisted of his cousins, El Conjunto de Pedro Ibarra and Conjunto America de Lenco Trujillo.

In 1955 Frank joined the U.S. Air Force and they went through several bajo sexto players before they settled on Joey “El Canelo” López, who later founded the Joey, Dina and Sas record labels. Two years later, at Joey’s suggestion, they modified their name to Los Guadalupanos.

In 1958, Genaro traded in his tololoche for an electric bass and amplifier, Emilio enrolled in a barber college and two years later, Joey and the Aguilar brothers went their separate ways thus becoming Los Aguilares in 1960.

“Within a year, KBOP disc jockey Humberto Lozano López a.k.a. La Capirucha nicknamed us ‘Los Redondos Hermanos de Piedra’ because we were round and ‘rock’ because we were hard-headed and just kept on going,” Genaro said as he cracked up with laughter.

Then, in 1961, José Morante and Salomé Gutiérrez gave them the opportunity to record their first single, “De Aca De Este Lado” on the Norteño label.

In 1965, “Flor Del Rio” on Lira Records became the tune that took them out of obscurity.

“Other songs that followed, ‘Está,’ ‘Chaparrita’ and ‘Que Parde Es La Vida’ also kept us on the public’s mind and coupled with performances plus airplay, our reputation grew like wildfire,” Emilio said during a 1987 interview.

From the late 1960s to the mid ‘70s, they also recorded with the Bravo, Falcón, Tesoro Musical, Sunglow and El Zarape record labels; and in 1977 they founded a bit of stability with the Joey, Dina and Joey International records.

In between all those recordings, in 1975 their younger brother Luis Aguilar replaced his brother Juan Aguilar on drums when Luis left the group to form Los Bandoleros.

Santos Jr. and José Aguilar, whose twin brother is Luis, were the only non-musicians in this family of seven brothers.

From 1983 to 1996, they received eleven Tejano Music Awards nominations and four Mike Chávez Chicano Music Awards nominations in the Conjunto Song, Conjunto Single, Conjunto Album and Ballad of the Year categories. In addition Emilio and Genaro got six “Vocal Duo” nominations. And in 2001, they were finally inducted into Sam Zuniga’s Hispanic Music Hall of Fame.

Genaro said that one of the reasons they remained in demand is that they did not pigeon hole themselves. Instead they continued to progress.

“In 1986, we started to experiment with different styles and arrangements. For example having two accordions, a trumpet and we introduced keyboards in a conjunto, something which had never been done before.”

By now, Emilio’s son, Miguel Ángel Aguilar, who started out as a roadie a year prior knew how to play bass and drums, then Emilio bought him a synthesizer.

MiguelAngel-2011“I practiced three nights and I was on the bandstand on the fourth day,” Miguel Ángel said of his quick ascent to musician.”

Los Aguilares were than combining the accordion and synthesizer creating what they called “conjunto music with an Onda Chicana sound.”

A year later, bass and bajo sexto player Charles Howthon joined Los Aguilares.

Los Aguilares entered the 90s decade with Santos Aguilar, Emilio’s nine-year-old grandson taking accordion lessons from Santiago Jiménez Jr., then joining the famed conjunto, but as a drummer. Then sad to report, in 1994, Emilio’s son/Miguel’s little brother Daniel, who had been singing country songs with the group for a couple of years, passed on.

In 2005, when Miguel Ángel relieved his father on second vocals, he was replaced as a keyboard player by Juan Carlos Moreno. Then, as Emilio’s health continued to decline, J.R. Ramos starting filling in for him more and more on accordion.

On December 27, 2009, Emilio went to be with the Lord at the young age of 70. Their bass player at this time was George Esquivel.

What is noteworthy and rare is that in spite of putting job security ahead of their music, they kept their full-time jobs. However, they endured the test of time with weekend gigs that took them as far as California, Arizona, Utah, Kansas, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois thus making them one of the seminal conjunto groups of all time.

Today Los Aguilares are Genaro, lead vocals, bass; Miguel Ángel, second vocals; Ricardo “Richard” Medina Jr., accordion; Juan Carlos Moreno, keyboards; Miguel Ángel Jr., guitar; Charlie Howthon, bajo sexto and bass; and Luis Aguilar, drums. Richard is the son of Emilio’s daughter Graciela “Gracie” and Richard Medina of Los Hermanos Medina.

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On Saturday, January 19th Los Aguilares will be celebrating their 53rd Anniversary Dance with a big wing ding at the San Antonio Event Center at 8111 Meadow Leaf Drive.

The biggest event in January will kick off with Little Joe y La Familia, Jimmy González y Grupo Mazz, Elida Reyna, Chente Barrera, Marcos Orozco, and Grupo Ondo, which is the third generation of Los Aguilares and will of course be capped off with Los Aguilares.

Pre-sales tickets can be purchased at Janie’s Record Shop, Del Bravo Record Shop, Gilbert’s Restaurant and Bargain Beds, next to the event center.

For more information call (210) 978-2310, 393-1800 or go to www.aglentertainment.net.