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Rico Del Barrio Rises from the Shadows of the Legends

Rico De Barrio seems to have risen from the ashes of Tejano old school vocalists who recently passed on and were reincarnated by him.

The 34-year-old truck driver never dreamt of being a singer. In fact, he didn’t even know he could sing, but it seems he was destined to carry on the “Westside Sound” torch. And his personal image fits the music to a tee.

It all started after he befriended his childhood music idols, Dimas Garza and the Royal Jesters.

“I grew up listening to the music of the Jesters, but I never imaged that I would be singing with them one day,” Rico said during a press conference with several print medium reporters.

It all came about after listening to a radio spot advertising a Chicano oldies concert.

“If I had changed the radio dial, I would not have heard the announcement and I wouldn’t be a musician today,” he continued.

Rico was referring to becoming Garza’s protégé and studying under the master vocalist until he perfected Garza’s style and emotional vocal delivery.

Fast forwarding to late 2010, after both Garza and Óscar Lawson of the Royal Jesters passed on, Garza’s widow, promoter Juan Mendoza and fans encouraged him to produce his own compact disc. The result is “From the Shadows of the Legends.”

Wild Bill Riley introduces the first track as though he was introducing an oldies tune on KONO. Then Rico kicks off with a medley of seven blues tunes, which include his own “Parolee,” which appropriately follows “Framed.”

Riley also introduces the second cut, a medley of low rider oldies favorites. The biggest surprise is Rico full rich voice that is reminiscent of the late 1950s and ‘60s that it will send chills up the spines of those that experienced this era.

“Get Down and Do the T” is Rico’s personal tribute to Rudy Tee of the Reno Bops and the rocking original tune will induce listeners to do the James Brown.

“Yo Si Te Voy a Querer” is another Rico penned tune and his voice evokes nostalgic memories of Sunny of the Sunliners singing “Cariño Nuevo.”

The original tunes continue with “No More Foolish Pride,” a song many men will relate to since the theme is about losing a woman due to foolish pride.

“This CD features several new songs, but with the old style,” Rico said of the four new tunes that sound as authentic and good as any oldie classic.

“Sugar Baby” is a forgotten gem originally recorded by Swinging Mike Martínez that Rico revives and makes his own as he continues to give everyone a trip down memory lane.

Of course Rico would be remiss if he didn’t pay tribute to his mentor and he does so with “Love Me” and “I Want to Be Loved,” than he launches into “Breaking up Is Hard to Do”

The once reluctant singer brings the CD to a close with the autobiographical “Rico Del Barrio.” It begins with “I’m Rico from the barrio, they call it el hueso de San Anton. They say I’m crazy because I walk through life wearing Stacys and I wear a tando hat. It doesn’t really matter where I’m at.”

With lyrics like that, this reporter doesn’t doubt that this tune will become the national anthem for Chicano low riders and pachucos (cholos in California) all over the nation because it reflects pride in their unique look.

Back in the day, pachucos took pride in looking good by starching and ironing their dress shirts and khaki pants to look trucha, neat and as sharp as a pin. On weekends, they would give their style a touch of class with a tailor made zoot suit. That’s a far cry from today’s youth who wear loose pants so low that they could unexpectedly fall off without warning.

While Rico Del Barrio (of the hood) prefers to be incognito and maintain a high level of mystic, this writer also did his CD photography.

Rico, who is also very popular in California, will bring his soulful vocals to the Edgewood Theater for an oldies show also featuring Roy Head of “Treat Her Right” fame, Archie Bell and the Drells, best known for “Tighten Up,” plus Joe Jama and Ernie Garibay on Saturday, October 29.