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Gilbert

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 #1 

Reyes Accordions Founder

Gilbert Reyes Jr

Reyes Accordions Moderators

David Diaz, Paco Rios, Cristina Bali, Otoño Luján, Luis Cadena, Tara Linda, Karlos Landin, Glenn Alessi, Aaron Sanchez, Eulalio (Lalo) Sepulveda, and Joe Zuniga

Honorary Members

Flaco Jimenez
Juan Jose (Mico) Villarreal
Joel Guzman
Santiago Jimenez Jr


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LoneStar

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 #2 
Hello my name is David Rosalio Diaz Yruegaz from Agua Dulce Texas.  Agua Dulce is a small town 33 miles West of Corpus Christi and 12 miles east of The Famous Salon De Balie "La Villita", Alice Texas.  I have been a Conjunto/Tejano Mobile DJ for fifteen years and I have just recently started learning to play accordion about eight months ago.
 
Most of you may know me by my user name LoneStar.  I am fairly active on the forum and I am honored to be asked to join this great group of moderators.  I am a member of another forum that is no where near as positive of a place to log on to as reyesforum.com.  Here's a link if you want to know what brought me here.

New Member + Nice Old School Style Videos
 
I am an Air Force veteran (92-96) and I have previously worked five years in the Semiconductor Industry in Austin, Texas.  Currently, I'm in my final semester at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville Texas.  My graduation date is May 11, 2007, just in time for the Conjunto Festival!!!  Hope to see all of you there this year.
 
On a more serious note, I will be earning my third degree a Bachelors of Science in the field of Industrial Technology with a Business Administration minor.  I also have two Associates of Applied Science in Electronics from Austin Community College. 
 
I don't play in a band, but I hope to start a Conjunto when I retire.  Hopefully by then, I will be a respectable accordionist and able to express myself through my own playing style.  I currently play the diatonic accordion and hope to pick the Guitar and Bajo Sexto up next. 

I will do my best to continue to support the members of this great forum, and would like to thank Gilbert and the other moderators for selecting me.
 
Thank you for this opportunity,
David Rosalio Diaz Yruegaz

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Viva la Musica de Bajo y Acordeon!
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TaraLinda

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 #3 

Hi Everyone~

Linda Rao here. I go by Tara Linda on the forum and in music. I’m from Texas, and live in Oakland CA now. By day I work as a scientist with the San Francisco water board. I don't come from a musical family (except for an aunt in India who played vina and sang), so I just pick things up along the way. I started playing drums in Austin in mostly loud power pop bands, though secretly I wanted to play different styles of Tex-mex. In Sacramento, I was a drummer in several groups and sang in theatre. It was during this time that I started writing waltzes, and needed to find the right instrument-- which led me to my first 2-row accordion.


I couldn't believe the affect that singing with an accordion had on audiences; people got downright emotional. So I decided to play to this, and traded my drums for my first 3-row in 2004. This was when I discovered this community through Gilbert- a whole universe to help me get oriented with instruction, styles, songs, teachers... Lauro Gaujardo taught me my first polka and kindly pointed out all my bad habits!


One interesting thing: I knew Gilbert years earlier from Austin days and was thrilled to discover how he'd so seriously pursued his love of the music.

I sing everything from bluesy jazz to eastern inspired ambient. I’m in 2 bands now, and mostly play bass and some accordion. I have become nearly obsessed with the early Conjunto sung by the women of South Texas. I want to introduce the heart and soul of their music to new audiences.

I'm thankful to Gilbert for his vision to start all of this, to those who work hard to keep it going, and to the community that keeps it so interesting. I look forward to helping out anyway I can.


Linda


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cristinaballi

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Saludos a todas y todos,

 

I am Cristina Balli from Brownsville, TX, although I'm closely linked to San Benito, TX.  Currently I am the Tourism/Fund Development Coordinator for the City of San Benito and for the last three years I was the director of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center.  My responsibilities with the City include developing the Plaza de San Benito, where the NMCAC is located plus the future museums of the Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum, the Freddy Fender Museum, and the SB Historical Museum.  In this capacity I'm also helping develop other cultural amenities of the City, including La Villita Dance Hall and the old Ideal Records Building.  I continue to help with established programs of NMCAC, including the Narciso Martinez Conjunto Festival in September and "Los Second Weensdees."

 

I am not a musician but I dedicate much of my professional work to preserving and promoting Mexican and Mexican American accordion roots music.  Prior to doing this work I practiced social work and I did a little stint in public radio.

 

Le agradezco a Gilbert la oportunidad de participar en este foro.  I have a great amount of respect for this community because it is one of the few places I've seen where Conjunto, Tejano and Norteño fans get along.  It is a great space.  Gracias!

 

Cristina

 

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 #5 

Primero que nada Mi nombre es Luis Armando Cadena Jr AKA Luis_relampago y quiero agradecer a Gilbert y los moderadores por esta gran oportunidad de servir esta comunidad como un moderador. Es para mi un honor poder estar aquí con todos ustedes formando parte de este grupo.

 

La primera vez que visite este foro fue para mi una sorpresa muy agradable, ya que siempre anhele eso, una comunidad de personas que amaran la música de acordeón y bajo sexto igual que yo. A través de este tiempo he ido formando una bonita relación con muchos de los miembros de esta comunidad de los cuales e aprendido muchísimo en muchos aspectos de la vida.

 

En la comunidad contamos con miembros de todas las edades y gustos musicales, y esa variedad es la que hace el foro interesante y educativo. Es por eso que el proceso de aprendizaje es interminable ya que la experiencia de muchos miembros del foro y el ímpetu de los jóvenes hacen una buena combinación.

 

Nací en Mcallen, TX y me crié con mis padres en Reynosa Tamaulipas, donde estudie hasta la preparatoria, desde muy pequeño empecé a cantar y a la edad de seis años aprendí a tocar la guitarra, vengo de una familia musical, mi abuelo paterno (Carlos Cadena) es un gran requintista de música de trío, mi padre y tíos todos saben tocar varios instrumentos, mis tíos (Juan Carlos y Fernando) se dedicaron procesionalmente a la música. Por parte de la familia de mi madre es que me viene el amor por la música norteña ya que aunque mis tíos maternos no eran músicos profesionales amaban y tocaban la música norteña y cada que tenían oportunidad me influenciaban a que me aprendiera temas de Los Relámpagos. Paso el tiempo y empecé a incursionar en varios instrumentos como el Bass, la batería, congas, y un poco de teclado. A La edad de 17 años me vine a estudiar ingles a Houston y termine quedándome en esa ciudad. Hoy tengo 32 años de edad y estoy felizmente casado con dos hijos preciosos que hacen mi vida mas alegre, y mi pasión por la música me a llevado a luchar a lado de mis compañeros en el grupo RELAMPAGO que llebamos ese nombre en honor aquel grupo que dejo una huella imborrable en mi corazón (Los Relampagos del Norte). Hoy tenemos 7 años(6 CD's) de estar activos en el ambiente musical y hemos logrado cosas muy agradables gracias a Dios. Hace 3 años firmamos un contrato para Platino Records que es parte de la familia Univision y hemos logrado exponer nuestros temas en Radio y Televisión, hace poco mas de un año estuvimos en Miami, FL y fuimos a todos los programas de TV incluyendo Sábado Gigante un sueño hecho realidad. En este año 2007 sacamos nuestra sexta producción titulada "En La Intimidad" y pues gracias a Dios va muy bien el CD sale a la venta para el 13 de Marzo de este año y pues el sencillo titulado "En La Intimidad" esta funcionando muy bien en ciudades como Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Phoenix, Vegas, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Mcallen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianápolis y muchas mas estamos a poco de entrar a top 40 en Billboard, y en Marzo estaremos una vez mas en Miami grabando todos los programas de Univision Televisión

 

Una vez mas quiero reiterar mi agradecimiento por la invitación a formar parte del grupo de moderadores y espero poder ayudarles en lo que se pueda.


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Glenn

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 #6 
Hello-Hola to all Reyes Forum moderators,

I think I have been a member , daily reader, and sometimes contributor since nearly the beginning of this Forum . I've seen it blossom over the years.

I've been interested the accordion and conjunto/norteno for over 30 yrs now, from when I was growing up in Arizona and spending time across the border. I have lived in Italy for the past 26 years, where I am a research associate and professor at an Italian university. I do get back to the U.S. a month per year. Living in Italy has given me great opportunities to see how the instruments are built, tuned, repaired and played.

My main regret on the Forum is that, while I can follow much of the Spanish of the forum, my writing and speaking abilities seem to be contaminated by Italian ( my second language here ). So, I respond in English to postings in Spanish.

My limited talent at playing the accordion is certainly surpassed by my interest in the instrument and all its varieties ( technically, aesthetically and historically ) as well as the music it produces ( conjunto, norteno, tejano, cajun, zydeco, chamamè, forrò, Irish , Polish etc etc ) . I do, however, manage to gig regularly with local bands ( Rock, Jazz, Country ) who will tolerate my lousy playing and extremely limited repertoire.

I have a large collection of accordions of all types, and a prized couple of Macias Bajos, and several other instruments I'll never play very well. No kids, no pets, no car.. but an iPod which needs regular feeding of Conjunto/ Norteno.

I'm grateful for the important and long-standing friendships I've made via the forum in the past 5 years or so, and know that any input I can give here will be in the interest of maintaining the high standards this forum has reached and continues to set.



Glenn





David

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 #7 
Hola!

I’m David Manti and live in North Highlands, CA. Not sure why it’s called this since I consider it north Sacramento. I’m terrible when it comes to music and my wife, who his from Mexico (TJ), tells me I have no rhythm. But, she likes my Spanish. We met a UC Davis and she introduced me to accordion music.

I am a software programmer for a small manufacturing company and the “unofficial” webmaster for Reyes Accordions. I met Gilbert at one of his performances many years ago and we became friends. My wife loves their music and we can’t get enough.

I really admire Gilbert and what he represents. It is really neat to keep you culture alive and share it with the rest of the world. What I really like is the vision of teaching the young this art form. Many young people participate and keep on learning from this site. This is what keeps me motivated to continue with this project and helping Gilbert.


David
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 #8 
My name is Karlos Landin, Jr. and I was born in Laredo, TX.  I currently live in Mesquite, TX.  I've been married for 14 1/2 years, have a daughter (Feliziti) who is 13 and a son (Angel) who is 18.  Angel is my step brother and my wife and I adopted him after our mother died 10 years ago.  Both of my kids are musically inclined (Gracias a DIOS).  Feliziti is a vocalist (like her father and grandfather), accordion student, piano student, and plays oboe in the middle school band.  Angel is a trumpet and french horn player in the high school band.  My father, Carlos Landin, had a Tejano/Chicano/Orquesta, Los Rondels, from the early 60's to the mid-70's.  They recorded several albums and singles under the Impacto and Capri labels.  In 2002 my father was honored at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX as a member of the Tejano Music Hall of Fame by the TTMA Tejano Music Awards.  In 2004 he was again inducted into the Hall of Fame, this time by the Tejano ROOTS Hall of Fame de Alice, TX (The Official birthplace of Tejano music).  

I've been singing since I started talking and have received many accolades along the way like being a member of the Texas All-State Choir and traveling Europe (West Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy) as a member of the United States National Choir.  I had a brief stint with Capitol EMI/Latin in the early 90's where I recorded a couple of singles produced, arranged and recorded by Joel Guzman and Gilbert Velasquez.  I've sung with a couple of bands in D/FW area on an off for the last 10 years, on the weekends.  I'd been a fan of the accordion since I was a kid growing up listening to Conjunto Bernal, Tony De La Rosa, Ruben Vela, Steve Jordan, to name a few.  It wasn't until the 90's that I finally bought my first accordion, which I'm still learning.  I wish there were more hours in the day to practice the accordion. 

I met Gilbert Reyes over the phone sometime back in '99 when I was researching the Tex-Mex button accordion.  At the time he had a site where he was discussing a book he was writing about the accordion.  The world famous Open Forum wasn't even born yet.  I'm happy to say that I was part of the original 5-6 guys that started on the original Open Forum along with Glenn, DrJoe, Gnarlitos, and Midwest Low.  I, like most of the other members, gravitated to ReyesAccordions.com because of my love for the accordion and all the beautiful music that it creates in the hands of those it inspires.  I enjoy reading about how it moves people in such a positive way.  It's my favorite site on the net!   

In February of 2003 I officially started Karlitos Way Accordions where I am the US dealer for Dino Baffetti and Beltrami Accordions.  In November of 2005 my family and I traveled to Italy and I got to live a life-long dream of actually seeing accordions being made, during our visit to Castelfidardo.  I have a whole new respect for the craftsmanship and now, truly, understand why they cost what they do.  I am also an accordion collector and have a collection of mostly old Hohner accordions (1, 2, and 3 row) that currently numbers 35.

I've met and made many good friends here on Reyes Accordions and really look forward to our reunions in San Antonio,TX during the Tejano/Conjunto Festival.  Every year we have more and more Reyes members out there from all over the US.  Si DIOS quiere, we can all get together there again this year.  

Gilbert, thank you for the opportunity to serve the Reyes community as a moderator.  Here's wishing you, the moderators, and other members the best in '07!  Que siga la tradicion y la musica de acordeon!




Me llamo Karlos Landin, y nací en Laredo, TX.  Ahora vivo en Mesquite, TX.  Tengo 14 1/2 años casado, tengo a una hija (Feliziti) que tiene 13 y un hijo (Angel) que tiene 18.  Angel era mi hermano (step-brother) y mi esposa y yo lo adoptamos después de que murio nuestra madre, hace 10 años.  Mis niños son musicos (Gracias un DIOS).   Feliziti es vocalista (como su padre y su abuelo), estudiante de acordeón, estudiante de piano, y juega oboe en la banda de su escuela.  Angel toca la trompeta y el franch horn en la banda de su escuela.  Mi padre, Carlos Landin, tuvo su Tejano/Chicano/Orquesta, Los Rondels, entre los 60's/70's.  Ellos grabaron varios álbums y varios sencillos bajo las disqueras Impacto y Capri. En 2002 mi padre fue honorado en el Alamodome en San Antonio, TX como un miembro del Salon de Fama de musica Tejana por el TTMA Premios a la musica Tejana.  En 2004 otra vez fue iniciado en el Salon de Fama, esta vez por el Tejano ROOTS Salon de Fama de la Fama de Alice, TX (El lugar de nacimiento Oficial de la música de Tejana).

He estado cantando desde que empecé a hablar y he recibido muchos premios entre ese tiempo como el ser miembro del Coro del Todo-Estado de Tejas y viajar Europa (Alemania, Austria, Suiza, y Italia) como un miembro de el Coro Nacional de los Estados Unidos. Tuve un turno breve con Capitol EMI/Latín al principio de los 90's donde grabe un par de sencillos producidos, arreglados y grabados por Joel Guzman y Gilbert Velasquez.  He cantado con un par de bandas en el área de D/FW por los pasados 10 años, en los fines de semana.  He sido un fan del acordeón desde niño escuchando musica de Conjunto Bernal, Tony De La Rosa, Ruben Vela, Steve Jordan, y varios otros acordeonistas.  No fue hasta los 90's que por fin compré mi primer acordeón, que todavía sigo aprendiendo.  Como quisiera que el dia tuviera más horas para practicar mas el acordeón.

Conoci a Gilberto Reyes por teléfono en ‘99 cuando yo investigaba el acordeón Tex-Mex en el internet.  En ese tiempo Gilbert tenia un sitio donde él discutía un libro que él escribía acerca del acordeón.  El Foro, que se conose hoy por todo el mundo del acordeon, todavía no nacia.  Me da mucho orgullo decir que soy parte de los originales 5-6 tipos que empezaron en el Foro junto con Glenn, DrJoe, Gnarlitos, y MidWest Low.  Yo, como la mayor parte de los otros miembros, llege a Reyesaccordions.com por causa de mi amor para el acordeón y toda la música hermosa que se crea en las manos de esos que inspira.  Me gusta la lectura acerca de cómo mueve a personas de una manera tan positiva. ¡Es mi sitio favorito!

En Febrero de 2003 empecé, oficialmente, Karlitos Way Accordions donde soy el distributor de EEUU para las companias del acordeon Dino Baffetti y Beltrami.  En Noviembre de 2005 mi familia y yo viajamos a Italia y logre visitar el pueblo de Castelfidardo y vi como se hacen los acordeones. Tengo un nuevo respeto para la artesanía y ahora entiendo sinceramente por qué ellos cuestan lo que cuestan.  Soy también un colector de acordeónes y tengo una colección de 35 acordeones, la mayor parte Hohner's viejos (de 1, 2, y 3 filas).

He conosido y he hecho a muchos amigos buenos aquí en Reyes Acordeones y me gustan mucho las reuniones que tenemos en San Antonio durante el Tejano/Conjunto Festival.  Todos los años nosotros tenemos mas miembros de Reyes allí de por todas partes los EEUU.  Si DIOS quiere, aver si todos nos podemos juntar allí otra vez este año.

Gilberto, gracias por la oportunidad de servir la comunidad Reyes como un moderator.  Te deseo a ti, a los otros moderators, y los miembros de Reyes lo mejor en '07!  ¡Que siga la tradicion y la musica de acordeon!


Con todo respeto,

Karlos Landin, Jr.
Mesquite, TX
    

otono

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 #9 
Let's see, I've lived all but 6 years in different parts of L.A. County... the other 6 I spent as a kid in Fresno, CA. I went to school for Fine Art at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA and actually tried to get the Art Department to accept accordion study into my program, but without luck. I've since held jobs doing everything from doing maintenance to working construction to fine art fabrication and installation to teacher to arts administrator. Since 2001, I've run a small nonprofit in Pasadena, CA.

I don't come from a family of musicians. I picked it up on my own and have had to struggle to find answers to my questions and learn from whoever I've had access to, in many cases, musicians that don't play the accordion. While my musical interests are wide, my entrance to the accordion came from my love for Conjunto music. I've been very fortunate to be able to travel and play across the country and in Canada. I have a group, called Conjunto Los Pochos and also moonlight with other local music and theater groups. I aspire to have vocal skills of Karlos and Luis Relampago... and to have the musical vision and playing skills of Joel G.

This forum has introduced me to many new friends and expanded my network of musician contacts, even in my own area. I've also learned so much more about the instrument itself from the discussion that take place on the forum. What a privilege to be part of this online community. Thank you all!

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pacoRios

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 #10 
Hello everyone:

My name is Francisco (Paco) Rios. I grew up in McAllen, TX and most of my family still lives in the Valley. Since 1997, I have lived in San Jose, CA.

Paco

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Skweezboxmaniac

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 #11 

(1) Name and where you are from

 

Hello Everyone,

 

My name is Aaron Sanchez.  I was born and raised in a tiny town in southern Colorado called San Luis.  I moved away to attend college at the age of 17.  I presently reside in Albuquerque, NM. 

 

(2) What brings you to this community

 

I found this forum many years ago, gosh....it had to be in the beginning as I've seen the interface go through at least 3 different revisions.  I do know that there were not many members when I found it.

 

I found it while looking for information on how to play accordion.  I've been playing keyboards in bars since I was a kid in my dad's various bands, but it was "American" music like Old R&B, Funk, Blues, Country, etc...I started playing in another local band when I was 15 that played Tejano music.  I quickly learned that there were accordion parts that I had to "fake" on keyboard because out in CO where we were, there were NO accordion players at that time.  When I moved to Albuquerque, I learned of a band from San Antonio called Grupo Vida and after an extensive search, I found a CD.  They blew me away! (courtesy of Mr. Sunny Souceda on accordion).  Of course, I quickly moved on down the line discovering Albert Zamora, Jaime De Anda...all the guys that played conjunto with a modern twist.  I decided I had to learn to play accordion.  My friend Jimmy Baca from here in Albuquerque told me where to buy one but teachers were basically non-existent.  When I found the forum, even in those days it was a tremendous help.  Just hearing from someone that even knew what an accordion WAS...was refreshing for me.  Long story short, the forum put me on a fast track on the box and pretty soon I was using it in bands that I was playing in.

 

 

(3) Are you a member of a group, do you sing, what instrument do you play etc.

 

I'm primarily a keyboard player, but I've been playing a lot of accordion lately.  I also free lance locally playing Bass guitar, and I enjoy arranging music for other instruments as well, even if I can't play them as effectively.  In about 2002, I put together a band for some young Twin girls called Las Florecitas.  They are now 21 and have just been nominated for 4 2007 Tejano Music Awards, and with the band we have earned another 2 nominations for "Most Promising Band of the year" and "Showband of the Year".  A surprise...but a welcome one.

 

My "Day Job" is running Corporate Events, Globally.  My education is in Audio Production and I've spent time as a system tech on some pretty large tours.  Lately, I will still free lance every now and again on large scale concert stuff, but I think I've found a home in Corporate AV.  I'm also a small Audio system provider for the local band scene out here.  Plenty to keep me out of trouble.

 

I look forward to helping and contributing in anyway I can as a moderator of this fine forum.


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LaloS

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 #12 

Fellow Forum Members

My name is Eulalio Sepulveda, better known as LaloS.  I was born in China, N.L. Mexico, but have been raised in the states all my life.  I’ve  lived part of my childhood in Houston and graduated high school in Edinburg, Tx. and still consider it my home since most of my family and relatives  still reside there.  In 1990, I ventured back to Houston TX to continue my education and have been here since.  One day, I will return to south Texas to retire.  That is still my vision.

 

Although, I’ve been exposed to all kinds of music, it’s the bajo sexto y acordeon what truly touches my heart.   I don’t come from a musically inclined family, but I’ve always been exposed to our Mexican music, specifically acordeon y bajo sexto through 8 tracks, cassettes and now CD’s.  Ever since I was 8 yrs old, the sound of the acordeon being played by my next door neighbor stuck with me.  It wasn’t until 25 yrs. later that I decided to give it a shot and bought my first acordeon.  Haven’t regretted since.  Although  I tell everyone that I don’t have the talent or eased of learning like other musicians, I believe I have the next best asset to talent which is perseverance or like we Mexicanos say, “Soy Terco”.  My passion for the instrument and music is what keeps me motivated to continue improving my skills. 

 

I welcome each and everyone of you to this unique forum.  Since its inception, I’ve been on board as a member and has been a tremendous journey.   Now, as a moderator, I will take it upon myself to continue seeing this forum help people learn their instruments and give something back to this community of what it has given me over the years.  I hope your expectations are met from visiting this community.

 

Welcome!!!


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Gilbert

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 #13 

Two-Time Grammy Award Winner Joel Guzman

 

Reyes Honorary Member

Joel Guzman has been called brilliant, extraordinary, a genius. He began dazzling audiences and fellow musicians with his unique accordion artistry as a child prodigy, causing established and respected accordion players to christen him, at an early age, “El Pequeno Gigante”. The Little Giant. Today, he is not only a superbly accomplished instrumentalist, singer, and performer, he is also a successful as an innovator, arranger and producer. He and his band “Aztex” formed the nucleus and inspiration for RCA’s release of Los Super Seven, featuring Joe Ely, Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez, Ruben Ramos, Rick Trevino and David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas both of Los Lobos. The countless other artists with whom Guzman has collaborated reads like a Who’s Who of Texas Music. In spite of his award-winning success, Guzman is restless.

With his roots firmly planted in the full range of traditional Mexican music, he has incorporated and experimented with jazz, tejano, country, salsa, R&B and rock. His passionate drive to create new musical directions and imaginative combinations of all these genres, continues to place him in a category all his own. He has said, “I may play a box but don’t want to be put in one”. The formation of The Mexican Roots Trio is his latest move to push the envelope, to venture out into new and exciting areas of expression. The Mexican Roots experience comes with the phenomenal vocal power of soul mate and partner Sarah Fox along with longtime friend and world class bajista, Max Baca Jr.. Together, this family reflects the inclination to create fresh, daring musical blends and to perform them with playful strut and bravado.

For much of his career, Guzman has generously contributed to the musical efforts of his countless fellow-musicians and colleagues. Now he feels it’s time to fully develop his own personal eclectic perceptions and ideas, step to the front of the stage, and present audiences with something far beyond tired formulas and safe homogenous sounds. He believes music should be created and performed with energy, sensitivity, honesty and above all, fearlessness. A growing number of people of all ages, from different cultures and backgrounds, are forming an audience ready to discover where this journey will take them and what new gifts the melding of Guzmans’ musical styles will offer.


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Santiago Jimenez Jr - 2000 Heritage Fellow

 

Reyes Honorary Member

Texas-Mexican conjunto music is an original American creation. In the late 19th century, German, Polish, and Czech immigrants settled in the predominantly Mexican region of the Texan Rio Grande valley, bringing with them popular forms of dance music such as the polka, waltz, schottische, mazurka, and redowa. These international social dance vogues had already been introduced into Mexican society on both sides of the border. Their deep rootedness in the large immigrant communities, however, gave these music and dance forms greater prominence -- and permanence -- in southern Texas and in neighboring northern Mexico. Along with the dancing came a certain musical instrument that had swept across Europe and beyond since its invention earlier in the century -- the diatonic button accordion. Tejanos -- Texans of Mexican descent--quickly adopted this raucous instrument as their own, and, over time, they built around it a musical group that would come to be strongly identified with their regional culture. This group is called simply the conjunto -- literally, combo, or ensemble.\


Santiago Jiménez, Jr., born in 1944, was heir to a rich family tradition of button accordion playing. His grandfather Patricio Jiménez played the accordion, and he would take his son Santiago to hear German polka bands in New Braunfels. Santiago, Sr. became one of the seminal figures in the rise of the conjunto, being one of the first accordionists to add the string bass (tololoche), make phonograph recordings, and appear on the radio in the 1930s. Santiago, Jr.'s brother, Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez, through his success in performing with country and western stars and popular music crossover groups, has become one of the most widely known Tejano accordionists.

Santiago Jiménez, Jr. has long preferred to model himself more closely on his father's lively melodic style, a style that is identified with the roots of the tradition. Also in this spirit, he continues to use the acoustic tololoche, as opposed to the electric bass typical of most contemporary conjuntos, and he rarely incorporates the drum set as do most Texan conjuntos. At age fifteen, he began performing professionally at weddings, clubs, and quinceañeras ("debutante" celebrations for fifteen-year-old girls), traditional community settings for conjunto music. While closely following his father's example, he has taken the tradition both forward in terms of creativity, and outward in terms of the wide audiences he has reached.

 

He made his first recording in 1958 at the age of seventeen, with his brother Flaco, entitled El Príncipe y el Rey del Acordeón (The Prince and the King of the Accordion). Since then, he has made over sixty other recordings of more than 700 pieces on regional labels such as Disco Grande, Disco Sombrero, and Disco Corona, and on the national labels Arhoolie, Rounder, and Watermelon. He also started his own record label, Chief Records (many friends call him by the nickname "Chief") giving younger musicians the opportunity to let their music be heard. In recent decades, Santiago Jiménez has toured widely throughout the United States and to Europe and the Americas -- including Russia, Great Britain, Spain, France, and Mexico. In the contemporary world of Tejano music, Santiago Jiménez, Jr. is seen as a standard bearer of deep conjunto tradition, a lively performer, and a man of great humor and wit.

 


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