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San Antonio

International Award-Winning Author to Speak at LULAC Convention

EMMA GONZÁLEZ

International Award-Winning Author to Speak at LULAC Convention

By Ramón Hernández

Emma González, an international award-winning author who lives in Edinburg, Texas, is one of three speakers that have been chosen to participate in a panel at this this year’s LULAC State Convention.

      Dr. Juan Tejeda, a professor at Palo Alto College, and Dr. Emilio Zamora are the other two panelists.

      As a child, she grew up in Ovid, Colorado while her migrant family toiled in the sugar beet fields. As an adult, she was inspired by Saint Mother Teresa into writing and publishing her first book “Field Mice: Memoirs of a Migrant Child” and “Field Mice: Memoirs of a Migrant Child Children’s Edition” in 2015, based on her true-life experiences as a migrant child during ten tumultuous years with her migrant parents in the 1950s and ‘60s.

     She may have waited until later in life before deciding to write, but the innate writing skills were there. The result is that both books won awards in September 2017 at the International Latino Book Awards (ILBA), known as the Academy Awards of Latino Literature and Culture in Los Angeles, chaired by Edward James Olmos. “Field Mice: Memoirs of a Migrant Child” won Most Inspirational Non-fiction Adult Novel, and the Children’s Edition won Most Inspirational Non-fiction Youth Book.

     This was Emma’s first submission to the ILBA as a first-time author. Latino authors from the U.S. and 20 Latino countries were represented in the competition.

     Aside from prestigious awards, when Little Joe read her book, he told her, “There were parts that made me cry. Then, I’d find myself laughing in the next chapter. It especially hit a chord in my heart because it was in part, like reading my own story.”

     Since then, her works have been selected by The Monitor’s Festiva Creative Writing and River Sedge: A Journal of Art & Literature published by University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, in Edinburg, Texas. She is also the 2017 “Literacy Champion” recipient, an award from South Texas Literacy Collation for her work conducting writing workshops to high school migrant students.

     González shares her life’s story with migrant students to motivate them to stay in school, to reach for the stars, and she conducts writing workshops “to help them find their voice and write their story.” For migrant parents, she offers heart felt advice from her experiences.

      González, who graduated from Edinburg High in 1972 and attended UT Pan Am, majored in Criminal Justice and ventured into successful business entrepreneurships hence touts the importance of education

      On the personal side, she lives with her supportive husband of 45 years and is close to her beloved children & grandchildren. She travels to distant places she once only read about as an isolated migrant child.

          In her sequel, “Paths of Pearls: After the Migrant Years,” Emma writes about her life when her parents finally settle in Edinburg. At the age of 15, her struggles continue after the migrant years have decimated her family and forced her to shoulder the financial burdens after her father’s death, to support her mother and herself, and fights to pursue her education and happiness. Plus, how she drew strength from her past to survive this new, unsettling life.

     This book is due for publication this year.  Ergo, González has embarked on a successful writing career. Her next tentative project is chronicling Little Joe’s early life in the fields.

     Meanwhile, she is on a book reading tour, but will take time off to make an appearance at this year’s LULAC State Convention at the Tropicana Hotel on Friday, June 1.

     To buy Emma’s book, just go to Amazon.com and search for “Field Mice” by Emma González.

Little Joe Continues to Outdo Himself

Little Joe Continues to Outdo Himself

Story and photos by Ramón Hernández

Actor-singer-songwriter-bandleader, guitar player, record label owner and producer, Little Joe celebrated his 77th year of life on October  17th,2017, yet he shows no signs of slowing down.
It was in late 1954 that four 14-year-old teenagers, David Coronado, José María de León, Tony Matamoros and Cino Moreno, got together and set out to – with a slight change in arrangement -turn standard Mexican rancheras into funky dance tunes.
Now, 63 years later, four Grammy awards and one Latin Grammy award later, this musical trail blazer says that despite his numerous achievements, his most monumental, major accomplishment is about to come to fruition.
As a national spokesperson, Little Joe was chosen to promote Schlitz beer in the 1980s, Coca Cola, GMC trucks, Tony Lama boots, Quaker Oats in the 1990s and most recently Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
It was in the early 1990s that Coca Cola built a float for this five-time Grammy award winner’s participation in San Antonio Battle of Flowers parade. And, he served as Grand Marshall for the Texas Cavaliers River Parade in 2011.
In 2015, Little Joe shared the honor of being San Antonio’s Fiesta Flambeau Parade Grand Marshall with John Quiñones. Last year, Little Joe released “San Antonio,” a song which he dedicated to the City and all its ‘fun loving’ residents. Now, he has been selected to help kick off the Alamo City’s Tricentennial New Year’s Eve celebration.
“I have a crushed velvet green coat that I was to wear; but, it’s going to be so damn cold that I’m thinking of wearing a big top coat or whatever. it’s looking like last year when it was going to be 28 degrees on Valentine’s Day in Valentine, Texas and it was down to10 degrees by the time we finished the set. It was the coldest gig I ever recall performing in and we wore double pants, shirts, sweaters, jackets and I was still cold, but la gente loca stayed; and it was a great party,” Little Joe said.
“I was so honored that Mayor (Ron) Nirenberg asked me to do the Tricentennial kick off on New Year’s Eve because he and his wife, Erika, are such ‘good people.’
Watching Little Joe and the mayor’s rapport backstage, it was evident they had such great chemistry (see color photo montage in this issue).
Needless to say, Little Joe put on a kick-butt show as he and La Familia alternated from an English-language tune, to Spanish, and back to English.
Mayor Nirenberg and San Antonio’s First Lady danced a few numbers behind the bandstand. And, out among the thousands of well-bundled die-hard fans, one could spot some couples dancing to keep warm.
Onstage, KSAT-12 TV had two cameramen and a remote operated camera on a crane. Backstage, KENS- 5 TV and a second television crew roped off an area where they interviewed Little Joe following his set.
It was here, where Little Joe summarized this memorable occasion in three words he slowly stretched out, “It – was – fa-bu-lous.”
Then he jokingly added, “To celebrate San Antonio’s Tricentennial is special to me because I won’t be here for the next centennial celebration,” meaning in 3017.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
When this writer asked the Tejano star who had a line of GMC pickup trucks named after him in 1992; and who in 2015 added a ‘Star’ on the Palms Springs Walk of Stars to his many Platinum and Gold records, trophies, plaques, certificates, letters from presidents, governors and numerous other accolades what “he considered” to be his greatest accomplishment, the Tejano Music and Tejano Roots Hall of Fame inductee took a long pause as he played back hundreds of awards shows in his mind.
“You know, I really can’t pinpoint any one particular accomplishment, musical or otherwise. I guess I would say, staying healthy as well as I have because you know, when you get to my age, you must deal with and you may have to confront with high blood pressure, diabetics, high cholesterol and other ailments that come with age. I’m able to control my numbers because I approach everything in moderation. Then I enjoy hearing the doctor give me the good results.
Having said this, some fans have shared a concern about his liver since the see him drink many shots of tequila during his shows.
Little Joe seemed grateful for their concern. Then, he responded, “Contrary to what people may think, I do drink beer in my show. I drink tequila, but I don’t drink it here at home. I don’t go to bars, so the intake is not as much as people might think it is. And every three or four months, I do get a complete checkup.”
Little Joe’s mental wheels were still spinning until he obviously decided to let this writer be the first to know about his next major undertaking.

LITTLE JOE REACHES AGREEMENT WITH HARRAH’S HOTEL AND CASINOS
Ivan Hernández, Little Joe’s son, manager and booking agent said, “It all started about five years ago when Joe Ripoll, the president of Hispanic marketing in Las Vegas, began looking for a casino where dad could perform five or six nights a week.”
That move would have Little Joe joining the likes of Elvis Presley, Wayne Newton, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand and others as a resident performer in a big-name casino.
“I love Vegas because of the punctuality and the way things move forward. But, I really didn’t want to do five or six nights a week in one place. You know how I like to perform then move on. So, I kind of forgot about it,” Little Joe added.
“But the people in Vegas kept insisting and requested we do this. But instead of Vegas, we decided to do this in Laughlin, where I can say that I’ve performed in Laughlin many times and I’ve sold out every time.”
“We wanted to do this in a place that was not too big and not too small with an average capacity of 1,200,” Ivan continued.
Long story short, Little Joe recently signed an agreement with John Buschman, vice president of multi-cultural marketing for the Harrah’s Hotel and Casino family.
“I really look forward to working all the great events that the Harrah’s Hotel Casino people have for me. And as I’ve said before, they never really stopped pushing it. These guys don’t do anything without researching and getting their numbers together,” the legendary Tejano icon said.
“I’m excited about it, as you can tell. They want the Chicano crowd. That’s what they told us they want to do and there’s no one that can make it as easy for them. That’s the plan.
“They are really focusing on the Southwest and they also intend in doing the same in their casinos in Chicago, New Orleans, Kansas City and Atlanta City as ‘Little Joe Weekends.’”
“Kansas City and Chicago, that’s Little Joe territory,” Ivan gushed.
To kick it all off, Little Joe is performing in Laughlin on Mother’s Day Weekend, May 11 and 12 and they may add a day to that.
“In addition, dad will also be performing at the Harrah’s casinos in Kansas City in June, and Reno in July,” Ivan added.
“Furthermore, Laughlin is also proclaiming ‘Little Joe Month’ in October when they will name a showroom there, the ‘Little Joe Showroom’ with the focus being to cater to the Mexican American because they want the Chicano cliental.
“That’s where they will eventually begin to bring in groups such as Los Lobos, El Chicano, Tierra, Malo, plus other Chicano groups.”
“Harrah’s Casinos! That’s world-wide man,” exclaimed Little Joe. “Next to my health, that’s my most important achievement.
“Yes, I was initially intimidated, but you know what? What the hell, they have given me the opportunity to finish my showbiz career in some great spots. That’s an accomplishment.”

 

ON LITTLE JOE IS GOING TO CUBA

Little Joe was breathless with excitement as he spoke about upcoming trip to Caribbean island of Cuba.
“I’ve been wanting to go to Cuba for way over 40 years y nunca se me ha consedido (it’s never come to pass). So, when the opportunity came up and I was asked, ‘would you like to do a cruise going to Cuba?’ I said, ‘I’ve got my bags pack.’
The Cuban culture has always been real fascinating to me. When I had my Buena Suerte Records office in Los Angeles; and I was there over two years, I was in the middle of all the Latin major labels.
“And, when I was working with CBS Columbia before it was Sony, one of the record promoters that would take me to do all the interviews at radio stations, newspaper and TV was Cuban, Jesus Godoy and I loved him because he was always a gentleman. As we drove around Los Angeles, I had some wonderful conversations with him and the more I spoke to him about Cuba, the more learned about their cultura, about their food and the whole thing about Cuba,
“The more I got intrigued, the more I knew I really wanted to go; and I want to go before it changes, before it gets westernized because eventually it will.

“Para empezar con la música Cubana (To start with the Cuban music industry), I have great admiration for those people because of their tenacity and their drive. When (former Cuban President Fidel) Castro ousted them, they moved in. They came in (through Florida) and they quickly took over the entertainment field … They quickly became positioned in the record industry.
“Jesus Godoy, as I said before, was such an incredible amazing gentleman. So, I was always fascinated with Cuba. It’s a beautiful island from what I’ve seen in pictures and of course on TV. That’s why I’m so excited about going and I’m really, really, happy that I have this opportunity. That’s another reason I want to stay healthy, so I can enjoy the trip there.
“I look forward to seeing all the classic vintage cars and interacting with la gente cubana in their home environment; plus of course the cuisine.
“This quaresma will mark 29 years of being a vegetarian; but I’m not truly a vegetarian because I eat dairy products. I love cheese, and eggs.
“What I am is a pescatarian. Therefore, I’m looking forward to a great Cuban variety of pescado Cubano, marisco Cubano (Cuban fish dishes). That’s it, that’s it.”

Along with Little Joe going on this historic, voyage to Cuba, plus the Bahamas, is Rubén Ramos and Roberto Pulido as Los Tres Amigos.
In addition to the nightly performances from a lineup of amazing artists and exotic ports of call, your vacation will be filled with non-stop entertainment and fun with an exciting schedule of onboard events!
By now you’re probably saying, “Wow, wow, wow, tell me more.” For starters, block off November 5th to the 9th in 2018.
This is an all-inclusive cruise. Raza, this means the price of the cruise includes taxes, gratuities and all the alcohol you can drink. Is visiting the country that gave us the bolero, mambo and salsa music on your bucket list?
This trip will sell out quickly!!! So, don’t wait!!! Space for this cruise is limited and once it’s sold out, it’s gone.
A passport, and in some cases a visa, is required for this once in a lifetime golden opportunity. For more information and/or to sign up for this adventure of a lifetime, call (210) 318-5671 or go to www.tejanocubacruise.com.
This terminates PART 1 of a two-part interview with the ‘King of the Brown Sound.’ Be sure to read how Little Joe plans to turn Texas blue again, plus his upcoming new image here on River City Attractions; plus his take on the “Tribute to José Alfredo Jiménez” compact disc. In addition, he also answers all the questions on the assumptions and/or rumors of his retirement.
It’s a revealing, yet delightful, insight into what this living legend has up his sleeve for la raza.

Alamo City Comic Con Halloween Edition 2017


Story by: David A. De La Rosa
Photographs by: Joseph Martinez

This past weekend I went to the Alamo City Comic Con Halloween Edition event (October 27th – 29th) at the Alamo Dome. The obvious proximity to the holiday had people attend this event dressed up as some of their favorite monsters and ghouls (i.e. Freddy Kruger, Pennywise, or garden variety zombie). Convention goers were exposed to the usual fare at such an event collectibles vendors, artists, and special celebrity guests (available for signing autographs and photo ops).
I like attending these shows for a couple of reasons; one is to see the creativity people have when it comes to making their own costumes. The second reason I like going to these events is I have an opportunity to meet some of my favorite television or film stars that are scheduled to appear at the event. This year there were actors in Q&A panels from cult classic films/television such as Nightmare Before Christmas, Nightmare On Elm Street, The Warriors, The Exorcist, The Monster Squad, and American Horror Story.
This event was held at the Alamo Dome, in the area where the field would be, there was a great amount of room for vendors which took up 2/3rds of the available space while the rest was setup as the celebrity section Alamo City Comic Con Halloween Edition 2017
. The rear corner adjoining the celebrity section was a stage and seating area for the panels. The panel area utilized one of the Alamo Dome’s jumbo-trons, so from most vantage points where ever a convention attendee was on the floor they could see and listen to each panel.
Overall I would say that this event was great family entertainment, at a reasonable price a three day pass could be bought for $50 at your local HEB supermarket. I did not see anyone walking away from this convention displeased, this event was very child friendly. I did see a few issues regarding this comic con.
First of all I think a lot of people thought that this event would have been bigger being held at the Alamo Dome as a venue. The issue here was the way that this event was marketed, because it was competing against another similar event (Rockula Horror Expo). Convention goers believed that this con was going to be on the same scale as the regular Alamo City Comic Con. To me I would have marketed this show as being a snack before dinner (i.e. the annual Alamo City Comic Con).
Another issue that may seem trivial was the restrictions regarding the kind of bags (backpacks, mesh bags, and clear bags were not allowed) convention attendees could bring. I know that these restrictions were put in place by the officials overseeing the Alamo Dome facility, and not the comic cons organizers. I think that this might have hurt the convention vendor’s bottom line; when I go to an event like this I need to take a backpack to hold all my heavy purchases. I know a lot of people posted on the comic cons Facebook page their displeasure about these baggage restrictions.
I also thought that there needed to be more comic con personnel (volunteers) present to help direct people in and outside the facility. The people that were there that did most of those duties were Alamo Dome employees. I think that the line to enter the dome could have ran more smoothly if there was some comic con personnel directing people to get into the proper line.
My final thoughts on this event are in regards to the Alamo Dome as being a great venue for any kind of convention. There were plenty of restrooms with hardly any lines, throughout the facility, as well as two major concession areas. As I’ve said before overall this was a great family event and it was held at a family friendly venue.

Archie Bell to Tighten Up Tejano SOUL Cruise

Archie Bell to Tighten Up Tejano SOUL Cruise
By Ramón Hernández
Archie Lee Bell says, “ ‘There’s Gonna Be a Showdown’ on the Carnival Valor cruise ship that sails out of Galveston on Monday, November 13.
“We’re going to ‘Tighten Up.’ ‘Everybody’s gonna have a good time. So ‘Let’s Groove’ together by signing up for this cruise.”

Who’s not familiar with all those Archie Bell and the Drells hits? If you need to refresh your memory just check out the following links: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN7vm-k-AaA, www.youtube.com/watch?v=47_so3zoAaU, www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEr3pzh_rvA, www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-svXGMYjLs and www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xY1BEMqxjQ.
For those who question why Archie Bell is headlining a Tejano soul gig, brace yourselves for this writer’s new revelations. Did you know of his connection to the Tejano industry and that he is Hispanic.
“To be specific, I am part Mexican, native American, and Chinese on my paternal great grandmother’s side,” Archie revealed during a telephone interview.
He had shared that information with me backstage at last year’s Patio Andaluz Reunion. He gave me his telephone numbers, but I had not had the time to follow up on getting all the details until a few days ago.
As for Archie’s connection to Tejano music, he said, “It all came about when Sunny Ozuna of the Sunliners was doing the radio promotion for his follow up hit to ‘Talk to Me’ and he went to see Skipper Lee Frazier (aka Mountain of Soul) at KCOH.”
In a nutshell, Frazier, who was also Archie’s manager, told Sunny, “I’ll play your record ‘if’ you take Archie on tour with you as an opening act.” This was about the time that Archie had written and recorded a very Chicano lowrider sounding tune titled “She’s My Woman, She’s My Girl” (Ovide 222), www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_3AHMyCbFs.
“The end result is that I did the Tejano music circuit all over Texas with Sunny. And that included towns such as Seguin, San Marcos and Corpus Christi; so I’ve very familiar with Tejano music. In fact, if you listen closely to ‘Tighten up,’ you’ll hear a Tejano groove, a zydeco groove and even a country groove in there,” Archie continued. “I also recorded and included one of Sunny’s songs on the ‘Tighten Up’ album.” Listen to it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiWmoo51ohU.
“That’s right,” Sunny affirmed. “He wanted one of my songs and I gave him ‘Give Me Time’ (KeyLoc KL-1007). He toured with me pretty close to a year. It really helped our guys at the Municipal Auditorium and other venues. Then he made it, and before I knew it, he was opening for James Brown in Atlanta (Georgia).”
Another little known fact is that the Drells at one time included two well-known Tejano musicians. They were Abel Salazar on keyboards and Lonnie LaLanne on trumpet.
Going back to Frazier, this radio icon, television personality, record producer-record label owner (Ovide Records), music promoter and movie actor (“Reborn”) is also the author of “Tighten Up … The Making of a Million Selling hit.” On a sad note, the radio icon died on Friday, October 14, 2016.
Another connection is that Sunny’s producer, Huey Meaux, recommended “Tighten Up” to Atlantic Records, who took his advice and sold more than three million copies, holding both the number one R&B and the ‘number one’ pop spot for two weeks on Billboard’s charts in spring 1968. And it was even released in Spain as “Aprieta.”
As for the name of these the four vocalists – Bell, James Wise, Willie Pernell and Billy Butler – the then E.O. Smith Junior High School classmates wanted to go with something like The Dells because it rhythmed with Bell. “However, that name was taken so E.C. Watson, a buddy of mine inserted an ‘r’ and came up with the Drells,” Archie said giving credit where credit is due.
Thus you now know that Drell is an offshoot of Bell.
“It’s not a recognized word. You won’t find a definition for it, but we coined it; so we came up with our own definition –a drell is a gentleman and the ultimate entertainer.” However, Rocktober magazine reporter James Potter wrote that Drell also meant “a singin’ and dancin’ mother@#ker!” And you’ll understand why when you see the YouTube.com videos.
For the story of Archie Bell and the Drells, one can go to his website, www.archiebell.net. Readers and also google them and find several links and with that in mind, I will stick to my finding, which you won’t find on the World Wide Web.
The only thing I will add is Archie’s regret on losing out on countless gigs because “Tighten Up” was released after he had joined the U.S. Army.
“I was making $135 a month with Uncle Sam when I could have been making $100,000 a night.”
The revelations continue …
Last year, I was taken aback when I saw Archie wearing a cowboy hat, especially after seeing him sporting a large round afro and wearing outlandish, colorful disco outfits. So what gives?
“The truth is that my father, Langston Bell, had a 1944 Ford and back them all they played on the radio was country and western music, so I grew up on all the Hank’s and Bob Wills music,” Archie continued.
“I’m also into what’s known as Carolina beach music. In fact, it really big all over the east coast from Florida on up to Virginia. Some of it has a blues shuffle (rhythmic structure) and the style of dancing it is the Carolina shag. It’s something similar to the Texas country two-step.”
I found this eye-opening information intriguing and after some researching it, I found out Carolina beach music was instrumental in bringing about wider acceptance of R&B music among the white population nationwide. Thus it was a contributory factor in both the birth of rock and roll and the later development of soul music as a subgenre of R&B.
Asked how he was exposed to this music genre, the 5-foot-9 ½ inch tall singer-songwriter said, “My wife’s from North Carolina.
As a solo artist Archie recorded a blues album, plus after professing a love for country music, a few C&W tunes. One of those tunes was “Warm Red Wine,” which is included with songs in a compilation also featuring Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker and Roy Clark.
“In fact I’m presently working on some recordings with Mickey Gilley and Roy Head.”
So there you have it, a few exclusive never-before known facts on the extremely musical versatile Archie Bell.
Best of all, readers will not only have the opportunity to see him perform in an intimate setting, but hang out with him in the ship and ports of call during the November Tejano Soul Cruise.
Other artists scheduled to perform are Jimmy Edward, Joe Jama, Augustine Ramírez, Ram Herrera, Hugo Guerrero, Chris Q, Stephanie Lynn, Tracy Pérez, and Candace Vargas. Also MC2, the Mambo Jazz Kings, Los Hermanos – all under the musical direction of Wild Bill Perkins with the musical backing of Houston’s Robert Dorantes’ Avizo Band.
For more information on the five-day cruise making port stops in Cozumel and Progresso, Yucatan, Mexico, go to www.tejanosoulcruise.com.

Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2017

Story by: David A. De La Rosa

Photographs by: Joseph Martinez

Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2017

 

This past weekend I attended San Antonio’s fifth installment of our local pop culture festival known as the Alamo City Comic Con (May 26th – 28th at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center). Convention goers’ have a chance to cut loose and let their inner geek out. This event allows the attendees the opportunity to dress up in costume and in makeup as their favorite superheroes or villains. It’s very common to see a whole family; mom, dad, and the kiddies dressed as their favorite hero’s.

People come to this convention for the spectacle of the event, to purchase limited edition artwork and collectibles. People go to be seen in their costumes and freely welcome people to take pictures with them if asked. There is also a contingent of professional cosplayers there who have awesome costumes and sell their pictures or offer to pose with attendees for a small fee. For me I like going to this event for a chance to meet some my favorite film and television stars. Whatever the reason people come to this event it all boils down to fun at a reasonable price.

There were many opportunities for the attendees to meet their favorite television or film stars that were scheduled for this event. Either directly by obtaining an autograph at a booth, or a free meet & greet or photo ops, also being able to ask some these celebrities in a panel setting, questions about their lives and television/film work. I attended no less than eight panels in the three day period, each one was very interesting.

The panels that I attended broke down into two groups. The first group, were panels dealing with actors connected to movies and television I grew up with from the ‘80s (i.e. The Goonies, Cheers, Star Wars, & Rocky IV). The second group of panels that I attended were concerning more current pop culture involving television/film and comics (Karl Urban, Kristin Bauer, Frank Miller, & Rob Schneider).

The first panel I attended was The Goonies panel. The panel was comprised of some of the key child actors of that film Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, & Ke Huy Quan. Seeing these actors speak about one of my favorites films growing up, made me get nostalgic for the ‘80s. They were all charming and were fully engaged with the panel audience’s questions. One question posed by the audience was why they never made a sequel; basically there wasn’t a quality script or idea that the three producers (Spielberg, Donner, and Columbus) of the film could agree on in order to make a sequel.

 

The next panel I went to was the Cheers panel. Two of the main characters of this very talented ensemble cast made it to this panel, George Wendt (Norm) and John Ratzenberger (Cliffy). Growing up, I never missed a Thursday night episode of this classic NBC sitcom. Both of these gentlemen were laid back and very charming, answering all the panel audiences’ questions. For me it was another trip down memory lane.

The main panel of this convention in my opinion was the Star Wars panel. I love anything dealing with Star Wars, and I eagerly awaited this opportunity to see these two actors. The actors that attended were Ian Mcdiarmid (the evil Emperor Palpatine) and Peter Mayhew (everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca). To begin this panel Mr. Mcdiarmid was escorted to the stage with red imperial guards on either side, with John Williams Imperial March being played in the background, a great entrance. Each gentleman gave interesting anecdotes, about their experiences working on these epic films. One funny anecdote was one in which Mr. Mayhew discussed his displeasure working in the Pacific Northwest filming forest scenes for Return of The Jedi. Mr. Mayhew was informed by the director that this was Bigfoot territory, and to not wander off, the idea being that someone might take a shot at him with his Chewbacca costume on. On a sad note, Mr. Mayhew informed the audience that Carrie Fisher was scheduled to attend this event, and she was sorely missed due to her untimely death.

A panel that I almost missed entirely was the Rob Schneider (Saturday Night Live, Duce Bigalow: Male Gigolo) panel. I really enjoy this comedian’s work, on the small/big screen. He spoke about the current political environment in this country as it pertains to stand up comedy. His speaking on this topic was very serious and thought provoking, it made me think of this man in a different light. He said the worst form of censorship was self censorship. He doesn’t believe in the way students are protesting their views in college campuses, and refuses to perform his act in any college campus, due these students’ activities.

Another panel that I really wanted to go to was the Rocky panel, which was comprised of Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed), and Dolph Lundgren (Drago). I am a very big fan of the Rocky movies and both these gentlemen were important to the Rocky film franchise. These two actors were very funny, charming and friendly rapport with the audience. If anyone has a chance to see these two men at a convention do it, you will leave very satisfied you did.

The Kristen Bauer was one panel, I wanted to attend. For those people who don’t know this actress she played Pam in the True Blood series and also played Maleficent on ABCs Once Upon a Time. This lady is very sweet, honest and down to earth. She is everything a Hollywood actress should be, but almost never is. I was walking by the autograph section of the convention center and a volunteer by Ms. Bauer’s booth said that a free meet and greet was fully acceptable, by Ms. Bauer. So my party and I went up to her shake her hand and say hello. Ms. Bauer couldn’t have been more gracious. If anyone has an opportunity to meet this actress please do it you won’t be disappointed.

One panel that has great significance, in the comic book world, was the Frank Miller panel. This man in the past 40 years has developed a modern adult content in comic books that has never been totally realized until now, in such titles as Daredevil, Batman, Sin City & 300. His stories are very gritty, and have a film noire visual feel to them. The panel was good but I’m not up par on his current project which is the DKIII limited series. There is one issue left to complete the story arch to be released in two weeks, he and other panel members said to read the last page, meaning something significant ends the storyline. Side note my partner covering this event witnessed a chance meeting between two comic book icons, Neal Adams and Frank Miller each one spoke to the other about their mutual admiration.

The last panel was a great one with Karl Urban. For those of you who don’t know this actor, he is currently portraying Dr. McCoy, in the new Star Trek reboot film franchise. This actor has been in many blockbusters such as Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Chronicles of Riddick films. He has also had a turn portraying one of my favorite comic book characters Judge Dredd. Mr. Urban was very funny and very interesting. Anyone there in attendance could tell that he was having fun being there answering questions from the audience. This is another actor I must say if you have a chance to see in person at a convention setting make the effort to do it, he’s worth it.

My observations of this event were over all very favorable. I was glad to see the Black Friday promotion was still in effect offering a greatly reduced discount. Also those passes were mailed to the purchaser, that was a great convenience. For the most part there wasn’t any large lines to get into the convention center, people got in right way. All the panels I attended ran on time, with an exception, of a few cancellations.

I did notice that attendance for this event was down considerably. I think two factors contributed to the lower than normal turnout. The first factor was that this event was held on Memorial Day weekend. A lot of people go out of town to visit family, go to the cemetery, or cookout. The second factor that affected the attendance numbers was that on Saturday, The River City Rockfest was held. This festival had 22 bands performing which included the likes of Def Leppard, Godsmack, The Offspring, and Pap Roach. A lot of people attending that event would have normally bought passes to go to the Alamo City Comic Con. I think that in the future the comic con organizers need to schedule, taking into account conflicting concerts/events. Every year is a learning process of what works and what doesn’t work. Each year there is improvement with this event, and the organizers strive for perfection. Next year’s con will be even better learning from these issues.

 David A. De La Rosa: River City Attractions

Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2016

Story by: David A. De La Rosa

Photographs by: Joseph Martinez

 

Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2016

 

It seems during the fall, in recent years, there is one event that I impatiently look forward to attending, and that is the Alamo City Comic Con (Oct 28th – 30th at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center). Throughout the rest of the year I miss the spectacle, and festival like atmosphere of our local celebration of pop culture. This year’s addition, the fourth year of this pop culture festival had many highlights, but also a few disappointing aspects, which will be discussed at the end of this article.

Everything that a person has come to expect from a comicon was present at this event. Attendees are openly encouraged to dress up in costume as their favorite superhero or villainess. Anyone attending can go up to a person in their costumes to pose for pictures; these picture opportunities are hardly ever refused if asked politely. This year the most worn costume was a tossup between Dr. Who and Harley Quinn. Surprisingly not that many Deadpool’s at this year’s con.

There are also professional cosplay artists, who dress up in fine costumes, and makeup to take pictures with the convention going public for a small fee. There is also a small contingent of fan clubs represented there (ex. Star Wars, Ghostbusters) that are in full costume that raise money for charity or for their fan clubs by charging a fee posing for pictures. An example of such a fan club was the Star Wars Society of San Antonio (www.facebook.com/SWSofSA/), which raised $2257 for childhood cancer research, benefiting St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Alan’s Hero Fund. On a side note there was a good representation of the Star Wars universe at the con Mr. Billie Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) was there all three days of the convention.  

As in past comicons any attendee has an opportunity to meet with their favorite film or television stars. An attendee can purchase a VIP pass (which includes admission) to attain autographs and photo-op sessions, with their favorite celebrities. For those who cannot afford these passes they can simply stand in line and purchase an autograph. Many people go this route and some celebrities even allow attendees to take selfie pics with them.

Many people as well myself enjoy attending the Q&A panels of these celebrity special guests, which are free to every attendee. This year’s featured panels of popular television series included, Dr. Who, Gotham, Stranger Things, Daredevil. I’m glad that this year the featured panels made use of the Lila Cockrell Theatre, last year that facility was only used for the Alamo City Film Festival. I sat in on five panels all of which were very interesting (i.e. Peter Weller) and entertaining.

There were vendors there with all kinds of merchandise from all over the country selling simple inexpensive stickers to very limited edition silkscreen print posters. I also met some vendors selling high quality home crafted clothing and accessories. One such vendor was Amber Johnson who has a small home business from Tyler, Texas (www.facebook.com/galaxygear.outofthisworld). This was her and husbands first year exhibiting at this event, and they didn’t know what expect. I spoken to them on Saturday and they said they were at breakeven point and still had another day to sell their merchandise. I was glad to hear that they were having a very positive experience at this event.

I enjoy experiencing all the aspects of attending one of these large pop culture events. I think that most attendees love watching people wearing weird homemade costumes, shopping for obscure collectible merchandise, or viewing limited edition artwork. As for myself I like attending the Q&A panels of the celebrity special guests. I like to get to know a little more about these people. Anyone attending these panels has an opportunity to ask these special guests, about their life and their work on TV and film. I went to five panels The Karate Kid, Stranger Things, Dr. Who, Daredevil/Punisher, and Peter Weller (Robocop).

I really enjoyed all of the panels, but the two that stuck out to me the most were the ones dealing with films that impacted me in my youth (The Karate Kid, and Robocop). The other panels were very informative, and entertaining. Millie Bobby Brown was one the stars of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. Her personality was very engaging and sweet, I knew of this series before hand, after the panel I wanted to binge watch the show.

The Dr. Who panel with Billie Piper was a no brainer for me I loved the character she portrayed on the show as well as other shows she’s been in (Penny Dreadful). She was very lovely and her accent was to die for. The panel for the Netflix hit series Daredevil (Charlie Cox/Daredevil, Jon Bernthal/The Punisher, & Elden Henson/Foggy Nelson) was great and insightful as each actor spoke about trying to be true to the comic book characters. This panel in my opinion had the most fun interacting with the panel audience. I also wanted to binge watch this Netflix series, in large part because of these actors, and this panel experience.

I went to The Karate Kid panel on Friday; it was the first panel I attended of this year’s comic con. I was in luck because it was late in the afternoon, and it took place in a large conference room, not many people attended. The panel guests were Ralph Macchio/the karate kid and William Zabka/the villain. Both of these actors couldn’t have been more charming and answered all questions put them about this film or other projects they had worked on. The limited martial arts training both actors received for this film was interesting, hardly any at all. The audience asked Mr. Macchio about working with the late great Pat Morita. He had nothing but praise for Mr. Morita’s professionalism and guidance making this film.

This panel was very enlightening and entertaining. As a side note late Sunday, the last day of the con my cousin and I went up to Mr. Macchio’s booth. He couldn’t have been a nicer gentleman; quite a few people went up to speak to him. A few took selfies with him with no money changing hands, a class act. He made our day just talking to us exchanging pleasantries.

The last panel I attended was the Peter Weller/Robocop panel. I got there to be early for a children’s costume contest. I sat there halfway through the panel; Mr. Weller blew me away, with the board variety of topics the audience and he touched on. He spoke about his ties with San Antonio; he attended high school (Alamo Heights High School) here. He spoke about politics, books, films, art, and his work in front of and behind the camera. This gentleman was very candid speaking out about his drug problems and failed relationship; Mr. Weller came off very genuine. This whole panel was a highly intellectual discussion on many subjects, after all this man does have a PhD. In Italian Renaissance Art History, he kept everyone in the audience thinking about topics that were being discussed. I would love to sit in on one of this gentleman’s lectures on art; I think it would be fascinating.  Last year Edward James Olmos’ panel blew me away, this year it was Peter Weller.

My observations on this event were very favorable for the most part, this event is a premier pop culture convention, but I did see some problems. These problems had to do mostly with logistics in grouping people in lines. The first of these lines was the one to get into the convention center which was long and time consuming. A few family members that attended this event on Saturday, said they got there early in line and waited for almost an hour and half outside to receive their passes. I know that the entrance was in the new expansion area of the convention center, I think that some rope lines would have helped be more orderly and make the line flow quickly.

I saw that there was a line problem for the photo op area, it seemed very disorganized. More than a few people complained about this issue and have posted their displeasure on the Alamo City Comic Con Facebook page. I think there needed to be more convention space allocated to alleviate this problem. I also spoke to a few people that had issues with lining up for the panels that utilized the Lila Cockrell Theatre; they observed it was very disorganized with people trying to cut into various lines. Again more convention space and rope lines probably would have done the trick to fix this problem.

Another issue that I saw was that it seemed like the convention space used for this event was a third the size of past conventions. On the heaviest day of Saturday the foot traffic going thru the convention space made me feel like I was being herded like cattle. I haven’t had that herd sensation since the first comic con. Again I think this event needed to utilize to two largest exposition halls like in the past. I understand the reasoning behind using the space available. I believe that major remodeling/construction work on the convention center as well as another convention already using those exposition halls, had everything to do with the space limitations.

Another issue I saw was one of limited resources. If you have less convention area then the price to exhibit there goes up, a simple economic principle of supply and demand. I noticed right away that this year’s convention had very few artists. I asked an artist exhibiting there what he thought about the small turnout of artists selling their art at the show. The artist said that the cost to exhibit there had grown substantially since the con started three years prior. I asked that artist if he thought that the increased cost had frozen out a lot of local artists, and that individual believed that was the case. I like art and I think that we need to support our local artists, there needs to be some sort of freeze on the cost to exhibit at the convention, to bring back these artists.

There were a lot of positives with this year’s convention it wasn’t all gloom and doom. This convention had its own free app that gave everyone with a smart phone, the ability to know the panel schedules or any changes. That was great for convention goers to keep track of time for each panel.

Another bright spot was the periodic deals given on admission passes. My cousin got in on one of these deals, it was last year’s Black Friday Sale for a three day pass for $50 (normal price $85). Throughout the year the Alamo City Comic Con, does a good thing in offering special promotions and contests to give out discount passes.

Another positive was the convention preview. My cousin was entitled to pick up her pass at the convention center and go thru the convention preview the Thursday before the convention started. I had never gone to that event before, but it was cool. I would say about 90% of the vendors and artists exhibiting there had their booths set up ready to sell their merchandise, for a few hours for attendees with VIP and three day passes. If anyone purchases a three day pass or VIP pass go to the preview you won’t be disappointed, there is no hassle or crowds, you can look at clothes, comic books, and artwork in peace.

One great thing for this convention was the return of the Lila Cockrell Theatre. Last year this venue was only used by the Alamo City Film Festival. People enjoy the theatre to be used for premium Q&A panels, using a large conference room didn’t do justice to someone of the stature of Stan Lee. Last year I wrote about the fact that maybe the film festival could be an all week event, and leave the theatre to be used for the premium Q&A panels on the weekend. Well the film festival did move to start earlier in the week to leave the theatre for the panels.

This convention is now a premier cultural event in this country. The people that run this event know when they make a mistake because they hear about it from attendees on their Facebook page. The organizers take the criticism, and always adopt, adapt, and improve. All the problems in past conventions were always addressed, and improved upon in the next convention. I know that this self examination is a positive trait, and will keep this event’s quality high and make people want to come back to this pop culture convention for years to come.

Jean-Pierre Reveals His Alamo City Roots as He Prepares for a Comeback

EXCLUSIVE: Long Hidden Secret of Garibaldi Finally Revealed

By Ramón Hernández

Jean-Pierre Reveals His Alamo City Roots as He Prepares for a Comeback

Not only will you, the reader, learn what happened to Jean Pierre Korngold, but also one of the biggest secrets in Mexican showbiz in this exclusive interview during which he reveals a never-known fact about the “All-Mexican” musical group that performed to sold-out arenas, stadiums and festivals throughout the Latin Hemisphere and Spain. And it’s something that will make San Antonio proud.2015-JeanPierre-Sitting (3)

The original Garibaldi wore a free version of the tradition mariachi charro outfit because of the fact that their name comes from Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi, the home of numerous mariachi bands, hence the take-off of the mariachi outfit.

This musical group, created by Luis de Llano Macedo in 1989, produced five actors (Rafael Amaya, Sergio Mayer, Víctor Noriega, Charly López and Xavier Ortíz), five actresses, radio and television hosts (Patricia Manterola, Pilar Montenegro, Ingrid Coronado, Luisa Fernanda and Katia Llanos), as the Mexican version of Puerto Rico’s young, all-male Menudo singers. However these were a mix of sexy, good-looking male and female vocalists/dancers.

As Menudo, they also went through several members, who in 1998 were renamed Garibaldi XXI to indicate they were to be the 21st century version of this popular teen group. Most important is the fact that they had great pride in their nationality and were therefore touted as an all-Mexican group.

“Little did the world know that I was born in Lima, Peru to Isidoro Korngold and Mina née Grunfeld,” Jean Pierre revealed over lunch at El Ceviche de Waldito, his favorite Peruvian hangout at 5526 Evers Rd.

Jean-Pierre sang and danced along with Rafael Amaya, Agustin Arana and Stefano Bosco, who we recently learned was Italian. However, this is what we are now finding out.

“I was four months old during the devaluation of the Peruvian currency, the Sol, and my father moved the family to San Antonio.” That was this artist’s second shocker.

For seventeen years, no one knew that this internationally-famous ex-Garibaldi grew up and went to school in the Alamo City.

“That’s right, our first home was in the Turtle Creek area, I was raised here and I don’t mind being called Tex-Mex or Tejano,” Jean-Pierre said with local pride. As a matter of trivia, Jean-Pierre’s great grandfather was a Moroccan Jews and his grandparents, who were from Germany, Poland and Austria, fled to Lima, Peru to escape the war in 1939. Now he’s proud to also be identified as a Texas and San Antonio has claim to another world-famous celebrity and the following – in a nutshell — is how it all came to be.

“My mother, Mina, whom played accordion and piano by ear, loved to sing and we would sing together all the time, at home and in the car, but without my father’s knowledge. At five, my parents bought me a Kawai grand piano, but my dad’s reason for me to take lessons, was so I could entertain his clients.  Shortly thereafter, I began entering talent contests and would win every single one of them; and at six, a professor at Solomon Schechter School noticed my vocal talents.

“At ten, I won a fifth grade talent contest with ‘The Tiger Song,’ my own piano composition. And at 13, I was able to sing without having to look away from my father since I was intimidated by his mere look. But when I became a member of the Jewish congregation at my coming of age Bar Mitzvah, I sang a Hebrew song with so much emotion and so much passion, he was touched.”

After Jean-Pierre, who is fluent in Spanish, Hebrew and English, graduated from Tom C. Clark High School, he did one semester at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel and one semester at the University of Seville, Spain. Then he came back to the Lone Star state and graduated with a Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Texas at Austin because his father wanted him to follow his steps in the family’s wealth management business.

“After I graduated from UTA in the top ten percent of my class, I told dad, ‘thank you for my education, but I can, I am and I’m going to become a singer. Now I’m ready to go to New York to pursue and live out my dream and I don’t care if I have to take a bus to get there.’ This was in 1995 when my mom became paralyzed and I taught her how to walk,” Jean-Pierre continued.

Much to his son’s surprise, his father saw his determination and had a change of heart. He knew Guideon Waldrop, then the dean at the Julliard School of Music, and they flew to New York. To make a long story short, Beverly Johnson, the head of the music department, accepted the proposal for Jean-Pierre to be home-schooled with a team of Julliard professors that consisted of Pei-Wen Chau, music composition; Helen Hobbs Jordan, music theory; and Robert White, vocal training.

Mrs. Jordan, an exacting and tart-tongued music teacher who instructed generations of performers including Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Paul Simon and Melissa Manchester was 95 when she took Jean-Pierre under her wing. She died at 99.

In addition, he also took acting classes from William Esper and music composition from Doris Eugenio.

Two years later, Jean-Pierre was vacationing in the Dominican Republic with his mother when he met William “Willie” Spanbleochel, who put him in a video and promised to record a two-song demo if Jean-Pierre would go to Austria. The result was “Adios María” and “Si Puedes Entenderme” (“If You Could Read My Mind”) and while he was in Austria, Jean-Pierre went to Madrid and Galica, Spain where he met Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco and his older brother, Mohammed VI, who is now the King of Morocco, who he says, “were just like family, we became lifelong friends and I love them.”Garibaldi-Composite (3)

Demo in hand, Jean-Pierre went back to the Big Apple, dropped out of his Julliard classes and told his father that he was ready to go knock on doors in Mexico. His well-known, high-profiled business savvy father got him the plane ticket and now pushing him said, “Okay, you want to sing now? Go and paint the art.

“Thanks to my dad and my stepmother, Rosario, I got in the door to meet with Luis de Llano Macedo, who wanted to reinvent Garibaldi because all the original members had moved on to solo careers or had become actors.

A little known fact is that Llano Macedo has a San Antonio connection since it was in 1962, that the then 17-year-old started out as a technician at KWEX-TV, Channel 41.

Now getting back to our story, Jean-Pierre said, “After he heard the demo, he asked if I wanted in and of course I said ‘yes.’ That’s he started all over from the bottom, when I came in — in July 1997 along with Rafael “Rafa” Amaya, Agustin Arana and Stefano Bosco, and the female side consisted of Ana, Rebeca, Paola and Alyn.

The group needed no jump-start for fans were anxiously awaited to make the new Garibaldi XXI an overnight sensation. Dicho y hecho (Said and done), after some intense rehearsing and lessons from vocal coach Seth Riggs in Hollywood — whose clients include Luis Miguel, Barbara Streisand, Madonna, Josh Groban, Michael Bolton, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole and countless other superstars — Jean-Pierre and the group started touring all over Mexico.

“Sometimes we would do two Mexican states in one day; and we had so much business because of the hits off our first compact disc that sometimes the only sleep we would get is when we would board our private jet to go perform throughout Spain, the Caribbean, Central and South America.

For a sample of the Garibaldi fever plus to her and see Jean-Pierre in action, check out two of their hits, “Las Mujeres Dicen” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qzT_suy0hU and “El Ombligito” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaymsrWmWew.

“We were on the go 18 hours a day and having to do three hours of workouts at the gym because we couldn’t show one inch of fat, but when you are doing what you love, that is not work,” Jean-Pierre said.

Asked how he felt about saying he was Mexican, the muscular, six-foot-tall artist said, “The truth is that because of my father’s business, I have been going back and forth to Mexico since I was five, so I feel very Mexican. Besides, that country gave me the opportunity to enter the world of show biz. This is where I got my first break and I was so excited to live my dream. Therefore I love and thank Mexico for that.”

After almost three years of performing before tens of thousands of adoring fans screaming at the top of their lungs at the mere sight of him, or being mobbed for autographs and pictures, teen mag centerfolds, beefcake calendars, countless radio, television and newspaper interviews plus magazine covers and full-color, multi-page layouts in national publications, Jean-Pierre now yearned to be a solo artist, so on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1999, he told the group he was leaving to go on his own.

“They gave me their blessing and I was off to pursue my dream.” He was soon replaced by Ricardo (last name unknown).

Following one disappointment after another, Jean Pierre decided to fill in the gap by working for his father, where he dealt with numerous high net worth individuals and companies.

“I hated it and never could get out the fact that my soul and love for music was taken away from me.”

Along the way, there were movies offers because of his leading-man looks, but as he said, “I’ve never wanted to be an actor.”

Nonetheless, one has to financially survive and the singer-songwriter-musician-dancer eventually entered the mortgage business. Meanwhile there were intermittent sparks of hope from José Felicano’s manager, Phyllis Kietien plus César Lemos in Miami, Nora Barragan, Patrice Villastrigo and Arturo Álvarez García in Hollywood, who Jean-Pierre paid to record an eleven-song CD. However, nothing came to fruition and he continued in his lucrative business as an insurance broker.

Nevertheless, the music bug is still there and as one who loves to give back to the community Jean-Pierre has, for years, been a regular volunteer at Golden Estates as an active participant in Shabbat service, playing the piano, organizing activities and playing games with the residents. And he also did a piano recital for Lee and Dr. Philip D. Zinn, MD in honor of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan.

While this Pisces’ vocal talent was suppressed and dormant, he says that he felt that he was like in a jail and a prisoner in his head; and now it’s time to take action by releasing his long-awaited CD on his own label.

“All of a sudden there’s a renewed interest in me and everything seems to be falling into place,” Jean-Pierre said during a second interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

The video to his first single as a solo artist, “Loco Enamorado,” can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mygG5X5-C7E and it generated enough interest to warrant an in-depth 24-minute interview — www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBMmgIYGrDM — on TV de Houston, Canal 43.3 with Marcela Rodríguez.

     Another interesting video is a 13-minute piece taped when the entire Garibaldi group stopped to visit his mother’s house in Peru. This one is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuAchabAiWw.

Yes everything is starting to click and as Jean-Pierre reiterated, “It’s not over until it’s over. Don’t ever stop fighting for your dreams and your goals. Always tell yourself, ‘I am, I can and I will.

For more information or to book Jean-Pierre, call (210) 317-2835

It’s Smooth Sailing for Jonny Martinez

It’s Smooth Sailing for Jonny Martinez

By Ramón Hernández

He was born John Martín Martínez and he could have easily chose Jon Martin as his stage name. Instead, this four-time Grammy Award nominee remained true to his roots settling on Jonny Martínez.JonnyMtz042

     He followed in the footsteps of his father, Tejano Music Hall of Fame inductee, Anselmo “Chemiro” Martínez as a singer, songwriter, composer, arranger, and producer. Then he tacked on to that radio personality, recording engineer, ESL teacher, Chief of Operations (COO) for the yearly Tejano Legends cruises; and facilities manager at Texas State University since 2014.

   Not one to lack inspiration, Jonny wrote and recorded “Jamaican Me Crazy” shortly after last year’s cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“This catchy tune has a Caribbean sound, the reggae and all,” Jonny said an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

“I sing it in Spanish and the bridge is in English. My son, John Michael Martínez, actually did the engineering and played percussion on this recording, which is No. 49 on the NM1 (New Music 1) charts. NM1 is a subsidiary of MTV and this is an impressive showing when you consider that these charts are worldwide.”

Martínez’s first influence was obviously his father and as he says, “I know what I know because of my dad and when you go into an industry, you have to know the basics and he taught me everything. He even introduced me to all the musicians throughout the years. In fact, my dad coached me and took me to my first interview with Johnny Canales. He also took me to the Zúnigas, but I also learned by osmosis.

Growing up, the vocalist known for his enthusiastic attitude and positive outlook said that he followed his father’s philosophy of hanging out with positive people, “if they are successful, you too will be successful.” So while attending Southwest High School and playing football with the Dragons, he hung out with Ty Detmer and also became good friends with his father, Sonny Detmer.

“Ty was the quarterback and I was one of the receivers,” Jonny said. “I got a football scholarship to Missouri Valley College and Ty went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Cleveland Browns.

One year after graduating from Southwest High School in 1987, Jonny started recording for Joey International; and in 1989 was hired as a DJ at KEDA, Radio Jalapeño, followed by KRIO.

“The promoters, the program directors and the old club owners were all gone by the time I went out on my own, so from that point forward, I had to take the reins since the new, young PDs and promoters didn’t know my dad. So I continued the musical education by learning on my own.”

In 2001, Jonny formed AMI Records, his own label, and recently released his seventh compact disc. He has performed his party-hearty songs with boundless enthusiasm in 39 states plus Monterrey, San Luis Potosi and Durango, Mexico.

As for Jonny’s numerous achievements and accomplishments, this writer could rephrase what is on-line at www.jonnymartinez.net, www.facebook.com/jonnymartinez2 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonny_Martínez. Instead he will bring you up-to-date with his latest CD.

It is obvious that the leader of Grupo Bravo looks up to his father and it is because of his admiration for him that he chose to record many of his father’s hits and why he titled his seventh compact disc, “Admirando a Mi Padre.”

‘”Dad, let’s record all your favorite songs and the only one we didn’t record was ‘Nadie Nos Separa.’ But it was hard to do this album because he sang with an orchestra so we had two trumpets and two saxophones while my style is accordion and bajo sexton,” the vocalist who earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix said. “

So it was very difficult for me because of the orchestrated arrangements. Not knowing how to handle a different register and the potential of what the horns do was also very difficult. So I want to give Mario Vigil credit for the entire album because he did the rhythmic arrangements and for his musical contributions since he played guitar, bass, guitar, keyboards and even accordion on this production. And he’s so fast you want to work with him more.

A few months later, they held a CD Release party and after the father-son joined voices to sing every other verse of “Los Laureles” and “Caminos Chuecos,” Martínez says, “Dad was overwhelmed with emotion and so content that he was teary-eyed as he sang the last verse. Then looking at me straight in the eye, he asked, ‘Is this my last performance?’ in a wonderment sort of way.”

No way, since truth be told, Anselmo Martínez will be singing “Caminos Chuecos,” which has incidentally been recorded by 62 groups/bands, plus other hits during the upcoming 2016 Tejano Music Legends Cruise.

Other songs in this CD are “Amorcito Consentido,” one of Anselmo’s favorites and “Un Ratón,” which has a double connotation – just listen to it and figure it out. A hint is that it refers to the part of the body where the sun doesn’t shine. The list continues with “Mi Nombre Completo,” “Hasta Que Llegaste Tu,” an old Aguilares hit, “El Paraiso,” a gospel song Anselmo wrote, but recorded with a La Fiebre feel to it, and the beautiful, haunting “No Olvides Que Te Quiero,” which Anselmo sings in duet with Crystal Caballero.

“Then there’s ‘Anoche’ which dad wrote as a bolero and we did as a ranchera. We did happy-go-lucky lilt ala Jay Pérez with lots of progressive chords and it came out bad ass,” Jonny explained.

“I wrote the lyrics to ‘Te Quiero Dar Mi Amor’ for my fiancé when I was with her. I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to be married to her,’ so I say, ‘mi esposa.’ It’s very poetic and my son was going to do a little rap on it, but it didn’t happen. This is the single that I’m promoting right now.

“As for ‘Mi Ranchito,’ it’s about that place that is sacred to one because that’s home and that’s kind of the way that I wanted my dad to be,” said the 46-year-old artist.

Today, he could change that title to “Mi Crusero” since cruise ships is where Jonny and an impressive list of Tejano artists, plus his father have been entertaining Tejano music fans for three years.

It all came about after Jacob Dominguez jumped ship and abandoned the original crew. “Wild Bill” Perkins, who plays trumpet with Rubén Ramos and leads Calle Seis, decided to continue the project, but lacked the necessary financial backing – enter Al Duarte, a prominent label owner, plus a travel agent and they were ready to set sail. Cruise Connection, a company that caters to fans who love to cruise and listen to live Tejano music, was formed with Perkins as CEO, Jonny, COO and Duarte as CFO.

Little Joe boosted their attendance last year and this year, it is virtually sold-out with Grammy Award winner / living legend, Sunny Ozuna, headlining this year’s roster of most-popular stars.

The good news is that there’re still a few vacancy cabins.

Other Tejano artists slated to perform during this cruise are Grammy Award winners, Rubén Ramos, Hugo Guerrero, Ricardo Castillón, Chente Barrera and Jess López; Latin Grammy Award winning Joe Posada, Latin Grammy Award nominee David Marez plus Patsy Torres, Joe Jama, René and Jessy Serrata, Chris Rivera, Nikki López and Crystal Caballero.

And don’t forget that you can get up close and personal with all the stars at the meet-and-greets, the question-and-answer sessions, photo ops, autograph parties, plus after each performance during the Carnival Tejano Legends seven (7) day cruise, hosted by two-time Grammy Award winner, Raulito Navaira.

For more information, go to www.cruiseconnectionlive.com, call (512) 375-5711 or email media@cruiseconnectionlive.com.Jonny-MontageBW2

Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2015

 

Story by: David A. De La Rosa

Photographs by: Joseph Martinez & Ramon Hernandez
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Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2015

 

I have for a full year been greatly anticipating the third installment of the Alamo City Comic Con. I’ve missed the excitement, and festival like atmosphere of this event. I was very pleased with the event as a whole, and everyone who attended I’m sure were not disappointed.

For those people who have never attended a comicon, let me reiterate for past articles I’ve written on this topic. This is an event where people are encouraged to dress up in costume as their favorite superhero or villain. For the record my observations for this year’s most worn costume was a tossup between Deadpool and Harley Quinn.

There were many celebrities that attended this event for autograph and photo-op sessions. Any comic con attendee can meet with some of their favorite TV, and film stars with certain VIP passes. Fans can go into an auditorium for a Q&A panel (i.e. Stan Lee, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, etc.), and speak with some of their favorite film or television personalities. I myself sat in on no less than six panels all of which were very informative and entertaining.

There are vendors there selling merchandise that run the gambit between inexpensive pin back buttons to high end statues of superheroes. I personally get a kick out people buying awesome looking replica light sabers. There were also many published artists selling signed prints of their artwork.

This year I was glad to see that there was a children’s area sponsored by local educational institutions (i.e. The San Antonio Public Library, The San Antonio Zoo, and The Witte Museum). Last year some of these groups were in attendance, but they didn’t have the interactive children’s activities they had for the con this year. Along with the interactive activities there were huge moon bounces, for the kids to play in; this was a great rest area. We all know sometimes the little ones get disinterested, and parents need to rest their feet.

This year had live wrestling courtesy of River City Wrestling, (an organization with no affiliation with our website), and matches were performed periodically throughout the three days of the con (https://www.facebook.com/rcwforever). I enjoyed the matches that I saw, and it reminded me of when I was a kid and went to see wrestling at the Freemen Coliseum. I hope next year’s con will have more RCW.

 

I enjoy many aspects of this comic con people watching, shopping for merchandise, viewing artwork. The one thing I love above all of these aspects of this show is attending Q&A panels. The panels are great for people who can afford a ticket to the con, but cannot afford a VIP pass this is their opportunity to get access to their favorite stars. As I stated before I attended no less than six panels, all were entertaining and gave me new insights on the celebrities being paneled. The one Q&A session that stood out, was the one that I half heartedly attended.

The Edward James Olmos panel blew me away, and a more in depth separate article will be posted on our website about this panel experience. Mr. Olmos was a very charismatic, animated, intelligent man; he answered every question eloquently and fully. He spoke to the panel audience about politics, his Latino experience in Hollywood, and his film career. I have been a fan of his for years, and I have much respect for him because of his leading role in the Battlestar Galactica reboot. I never expected such an authentic discussion, and that was the only reason I didn’t pay much attention too attending that panel. A little advice to the organizers of the Alamo City Comic Con who might read this piece, please invite Mr. Olmos back for next year’s con, he was awesome.

I can see that this event has grown in scope and popularity as a premier comic con destination since its inception. I like some of the changes that have been implemented in this con. There was a major improvement with announcing scheduled events and changes with a free downloadable AP. The layout of exhibition halls were more spread out with regards to the artist tables any observer can see foot traffic moved more steadily than in the past conventions. I thought this made the attendance seem smaller in number as compared to last year but that was only my perception, because of the lack of crowd clutter. To my knowledge attendance records have not been released yet.

I did have one major criticism with regards to the major Q&A panels, and that was the location. In the past two comic cons the major panels were held in the rather large Lila Cockrell Theatre stage. The major panels this year were held in ballroom B, which according to a comic con official had a seating capacity of 1,250 seats. I believe individuals like Stan Lee an American icon deserves the large stage. That same large stage is better suited to accommodate a large ensemble cast of some of our favorite television shows.

I know the reason for this switch was made to accommodate screening films for the Alamo City Film Festival which was running concurrently with the comic con. My humble suggestion is that maybe the film festival could run films everyday all week long, and the weekend the theatre stage can be used for the comic cons major panels. I think that expanding the film festival to run all week long could attract more films and stars to the comic con, as well as utilize the theatre stage for the con.

 

I enjoyed attending this convention and I look forward to the continual grown of this event. I think that we have much to be proud of here in San Antonio, and this event reflects well on all of us. All the visitors form different parts of country if not the world have gained a better appreciation of what San Antonio is all about, because of an event like our Alamo City Comic Con.

Cruising with Sunny

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Cruising with Sunny

Story and photo by:  Ramón Hernández

Remember the mid-1970s when la palomia started cruising in downtown San Antonio in their lowriders and other vehicles with their speakers blaring out Sunny and the Sunglows/Sunliners hits being played from their “8 Track” & cassette decks. “Back then there wasn’t  ITunes,  mp3’s,  Cds”. With a cassette deck we created something that should have been called “MY TUNE”s !

The same was happening from El Paso to Odessa to Corpus Christi, only the name of main drag changed, but the music was the same – “Talk to Me,” “Put Me in Jail,” “Runaway,” “Smile Now, Cry Later,” and other great lowriding rolas.

Now Sunny Ozuna is taking his fans on a different cruising scene — on a Carnival ship that sails from Galveston on Saturday, January 9 and returns on Saturday, January 16.

“This will be my first cruise, so I’m excited, especially about the places that we’re going to see,” the Grammy Award winner said during an interview at his Northeast San Antonio home.

The Caribbean Sea port calls for this cruise are the Mahogany Bay silky sand beaches and diamond-clear seas in Isla Rotan; Honduras; Belize, a former British colony on the eastern coast of Central America; and Cozumel, off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

“We (Sunny and his wife, Janie) were just in Las Vegas and for the first time caught a couple of burlesque shows and I understand the ship features some Vegas-style shows, so we also look forward to seeing those at sea.

During this cruise, Sunny and every artist will be backed up by Calle Seis, the official Tejano Cruise band. Jimmy Edward had nothing but great things to say about his experience, solo que con mas ganas quiero hir (that’s all the more reason I look forward to going).

Another piece of good news is that this Tejano music hall of fame inductee is already in the studio working on his next album and hopefully it will be out in time to buy it as a Christmas present.

Remember when he would release an English album followed by a Spanish album and vice versa; and when he had various titles? i.e. “Little Brown Eyed Soul,” “El Monito de Chocolate,” “The Versatile …,” “El Charro Chaparro,” Young, Gifted and Brown,” “El Internacional,” “El Preferido,” and “El Orgullo de Texas.” Well, this one is titled “El Cancioncero” for his own Keylock record label.

“Es todo (It’s all) Mexicano and a little mariachi, like ‘No Te Vayas Palomita,’ which I originally wrote for Jimmy Edward. Joe Revelez did all the initial tracks on this variation of mariachi, conjunto and Tejano. Then there’s a great beer drinking song titled “’Botella Maldita.’ That means it will have horns with a little bit of accordion,” Sunny explained.

“It certainly has to have actual instruments because electronic generated sounds can never replace what a human musician can produce with has fingers. So when people hear, as an example, ‘Los Chismes,’ which I also wrote, they will go, wow!

“While I prefer the human touch, I want to go into a different level with some of the instruments. So the flutes and some voices will be duplicated electronically for a different upbeat effect that again, will have listeners going, wow. How was that sound created?”

This should whet your appetite on this production. As for the “Gira de Las Leyendas 2015” with Freddie Martínez, Augustine Ramírez, Carlos Guzmán and Joe Bravo, if you or any of your friends missed any of their shows in Texas, they will close out the year with a New Year’s Eve Dance at Casino del Sol in Tucson, Arizona.

The legends would also love to perform in your state, and/or area. All you have to do is to call Freddie at (361) 992-8411 or Sunny at (210) 653-4802.

In closing, don’t forget that you can get up close and personal with Sunny at the meet-and-greets, the question-and-answer sessions, photo ops, autograph parties, and after each performance during the Carnival Tejano Legends seven (7) day cruise, hosted by two-time Grammy Award winner, Raulito Navaira.

Other Tejano artists slated to perform during this cruise are Grammy Award winners, Rubén Ramos, Hugo Guerrero, Ricardo Castillón, Chente Barrera and Jess López; Latin Grammy Award winning Joe Posada, Grammy Award nominee Jonny Martinez, Latin Grammy Award nominee David Marez plus Anselmo Martínez, Patsy Torres, Joe Jama, René and Jessy Serrata, Chris Rivera, Nikki López and Crystal Caballero.

For more information, go to www.cruiseconnectionlive.com, call (512) 375-5711 or email media@cruiseconnectionlive.com.