Time to lock-in Festival Chicano in your calendar! See you there!
Some say that the Tejano music genre is in a struggle; others say it’s on an upswing. While our mainstays, like David Lee Garza, Jay Perez, Elida Reina and others keep at it, as fans, we need to seek out new talent for our hungry ears. AMI Records artist Veronique offers the sort of vocal talent that can just as easily join that group of mainstay artists to keep Tejano strong.
A few years after her debut album Encantadora, she has released her sophomore production, Mi Año Dorado, and, I must tell you, it’s an album that is exactly what we fans look for–de todo un poco. The RGV native and graduate of UT-Pan Am delivers on all kinds of tunes, including rancheras, cumbias, boleros, and mariachi-styled numbers.
Kicking off with a smooth Tejano cumbia, Te Entrego Mi Corazon, she leaves no doubt about how enjoyable the album will be. El Mas Grande de Mis Errores is one of those female empowerment tunes, acknowledging the mistake that a certain man is in one nice little tell-off–all in a rancherita to which one can zapatear. As real as that song is, La Pulga, another boot-stomping rancherita about having a date at a flea market, is as real as it gets. The more Norteña Su Mujer is just as danceable, with Veronique offering up some vocal range throughout the tune.
Cumbias are also the order of the day including a modern-styled Regresa A Mi, but it is Primer Amor which takes folks back to the sock-hop days with a 50s-esque intro and do-wop style. Fantasia, though, brings it back to the modern style and Vinyl Viernes takes us on a more tropical trip that includes some heavy percussion. Not lost, though, is Veronique’s full-voiced delivery.
Vete de Aqui and Blanco y Negro provide some acordeon-heavy boleros that show off Veronique’s range and abilities. But it’s the album-closer that will definitely be a fan favorite at live shows as the Mariachi-styled Sobrevivire will cause some mujer-led, grito-filled sing-a-longs.
Veronique Medrano’s career is definitely on the upswing as she has opened for major acts all over the state of Texas. Nominated for the Tejano Music Awards “Best New Female Artist” category, she is definitely being noticed. Down in El Magico Valle, she is also a co-host with Mando San Roman on Puro Tejano TV. And she’s about to embark on a Texas tour, which begins in Baytown on August 13. So, keep an eye out for her upcoming events on her website.
Just in time for the political convention season, Chicano rock-and-roll group The Krayolas have dropped two tracks for our listening pleasure. Piñata Trump is a little self-explanatory and fun to dance–or to break a certain piñata to. El Cucuy is the story of that scariest of characters who has been the basis of our parents threats, or maybe it’s just Trump.
Give these tunes a listen.
While most of my friends were at home watching a dumpster fire (the RNC), I took the night off from forming an ulcer and headed over to Under the Volcano on Bissonnet to catch my favorite Tex-Mex conjunto super group, Los Texmaniacs. Having caught their show at such an intimate locale in February, I figured catching them again would be better than the last time. And it was! This time, I brought the whole familia.
A very diverse crowd came ready for what was truly an Americana music show. Although they can sling that conjunto music like no one’s business, they add some country, Mexican traditional, cumbia rhythms, and some rock-tinged Tex-Mex to the set-list with ease. They blazed through a diverse set of songs for two straight hours–other than a few stops for sip of something cold, or a quick adjustment to an amp.
They kicked off with the haunting Danzon Juarez, which allowed each of the musicians to show off their chops, particularly Bajo Sexto king Max Baca, and his nephew Josh Baca, an already accomplished accordionist at age 24. With an already full dance floor swaying to this tango-esque tune, they moved on to their tried and true Tex-Mex ranchera stylings with a single from their current CD Americano Groove, Como Te Quiero which then transformed into an accordion instrumental polkita.
Then came How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly, I Wanna Know Your Name, an education lesson on how Tex-Mex conjunto was created, and a personal favorite, Cancion Mixteca. A Huapango/Chotis medley and a medley of Ruben Vela hits “al estilo Valle de Tejas,” and one had the perfect evening. But there was more!
After they closed the show with upcoming single Mexico Americano, the crowd yelled for more: “Otra! Otra!” Max re-plugged in his Bajo to the amp and the band seared through another hit single, Down in the Barrio, which ended with rockin’ solos from the all the band members, including: Tio Baca and Nephew Baca, as well as Noel Hernandez-Bass; Daniel Martinez-Drums; and Fernando Martinez-Rhythm Guitar.
With each tune, the Bacas provided their own personal touch–a hot pasadita on the squeezebox, a bit of axemanship on the bajo. I’m looking forward to their next Houston visit.
Los Texmaniacs will be performing at SA’s newest venue, The Squeezebox, on Friday, July 22. Go check them out!
Here’s a live sample from a show at A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keiler.
Not releasing an album in three years did not hurt Intocable. Twenty-two years of music has allowed them to amass quite a catalog of hits–hits that make for memorable set lists that always get their sell-out crowds singing along.
Still, one always wonders what else Intocable can accomplish on a new album. They have achieved much in the studio and on the road, but their newest album, Highway, is a project that reminds us of Intocable’s versatility, the excellent songwriters they hang with, and why we always get excited about their “next album” taking too long to be released.
In an interview a few years ago, band leader Ricardo Muñoz stated that he may not be the best vocalist in the business, but his on-stage confidence is bolstered by having some of the best musicians in the business. Highway leaves no doubt about this, especially the bajo sexto creativity of Johnny Lee Rosas. While Rosas recorded the entire album, he recently left to sew his own creativity with a band he founded years ago, Masizzo. Nonetheless, his and Alex Gulmar’s bajo playing on Highway is the best I’ve heard on a a Norteño album.
Although the run-up to the album’s release came with online releases of some of the tunes over the course of a few weeks, the band had been riding on a powerful single penned by Louie Padilla, Tu Ausencia. In another interview, Muñoz stated that the tune was a strong reminder of the loss of his father a few years ago. Having lost my Mom 6 months ago, I must say that as I sing along to it, I usually get a lump in my throat. Released with an excellent video, the next single and video was a lighter one with Quiereme (Amame), a cumbia.
Highway is definitely a journey of experiences and of emotions. It’s also one of Intocable’s darker recordings, perhaps a journey of their own experiences as a band and as individuals. From love to love hurting to love lost, the band seems to describe just about anything that any given individual has gone through. Tunes like Te Perdono, a ranchera, reveal the pain of love lost by setting standards by which one forgives–and they’re not easy standards: “Te perdono si un dia traes a Dios hasta mi puerta; cuando vea que a tus ojos salen lagrimas de sangre…” One even feels the sadness of the acordeon.
Equally haunting is the ballad, En La Obscuridad, about moving forward after losing on love, but what remains are the thoughts that cloud one forever. That much is noticeable in the song’s extended musical ending with the haunting back-and-forth of the acordeon and what can only be described as mind-noise in the background.
Intocable also hits on an important social issue, the missing and murdered women of Juarez. Wilfran Castillo’s Dia 730 tells the story of a 17 year-old girl with dreams of becoming famous lured by a man offering opportunities of success only to go missing and probably murdered. This cause has been around for years and the lack of response (few arrests and convictions) continues to instill fear in Juarez. Thankfully, Intocable adds to this discussion, including the pain families go through and the ineffectiveness of law enforcement. It’s a powerful and descriptive tune.
The band also reminds me that they grew up in the same rock era as I did, and Un Dia Sin Ti and Duele El Amor, both rancheras, have tinges of rock guitar and drumming (by Rene Martinez) that effectively set up the songs. The signature Intocable cumbias are also evident, with Cuando Me Vi En Tus Ojos and Sueño de Amor providing some danceable treats.
Intocable also invites a guest lead vocalist, Beto Zapata, on Cuestion de Tiempo, which he delivers quite well. The album is well-rounded out with Cuidare, Usted Me Encanta, and Quiza No Sea Tarde, making this a musically diverse album.
Intocable is: Ricky Muñoz, Rene Martinez, Sergio Serna, Felix Salinas, Alex Gulmar, Juan Hernandez, and familiar new entrant, Danny Sanchez.
You can find the new album on various online outlets, but also exclusively for sale at Wal-Mart. Kudos to Ricky and the crew on a great production. They keep proving that independently produced records are the best ones out there.
The passing of Grammy-winning performer Emilio Navaira has sent shockwaves through the industry–affecting fellow musicians and fans alike. At 53 and riding a wave a success after what many consider a second chance after a horrific tour bus crash in Houston sent him to the brink of death, it would seem Navaira had many years to go in his storied career.
Late Monday night, tweets and Facebook posts from friends, family, and fans announcing Emilio’s death took over news feeds, as well as YouTubes of videos and songs he made famous. Some were songs from his 90s heyday with Emilio and Grupo Rio, and for others, like me, who followed him since the mid 80s, it was tunes from his stint with David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, where he launched his career in his early 20s.
As popular as he was in Texas and the US, Emilio was filling seats in Mexico in the last weeks of his life, and he was expected in Texas this weekend. His most recent album released in 2015 was one of duets, Juntos, with Tejano figures, including vocalists with whom he used to compete for business, such as Ram Herrera, Jay Perez, Ricky Muñoz (Intocable), Michael Salgado, Max Baca (Texmaniacs), Bobby Pulido, Marcos Orozco, Ricardo Castillon, and his old boss David Lee Garza. The CD also includes a re-do of his monster hit, Juntos, with his sons Emilio and Diego, and daughter Emely. In a MYSA.com article, Michael Morales , a long-time producer for Emilio, stated a new album was in the works, but no news as to completion.
Emilio leaves a catalog of huge hits, but simply going over various shared Facebook posts, it is obvious he also leaves a lot of memories. Even for me. I was recalling the mega-dances in the 90s, like the TMA Caravan of Stars at Palmer Auditorium in Austin, or a huge concert at the Alamodome, or dances in which people packed in like sardines at Cocktails in Austin. It was a an active time in La Onda. The last Emilio performance I attended was in 2013 at a Tejano Music Festival in Humble and it was a strong one.
Que En Paz Descanse, Emilio.
Services by Castle Ridge Mortuary, San Antonio:
Sunday, May 22 – Visitation for Fans 10AM to 5PM at Freeman Coliseum, SATX.
Sunday, May 22 – Rosary, 4PM at Freeman Coliseum (Fans Welcome)
Monday, May 23 – Funeral Mass, 1PM at San Fernando Cathedral
Tejano crooner Jay Perez is back with his long-awaited release, Un Amigo Tendras. After riding the radio waves with the title track, a smooth sax-driven cumbia, we get to enjoy the other 11 tunes. That’s right–12 tunes on this Freddie Records release. Produced by Mario Ortiz, this new production really hits the spot.
Perez seems to be going for a more laid-back vibe on this release as one notices a different feel to the introductory ranchera, Cuentale De Mi. No, Perez hasn’t abandoned the formula he uses to produce music, but this CD seems to offer up a smoother R&B feel; especially on his rancheras. He Venido A Decirte is an acordeon- and bajo-fueled ranchera that is sure to be a favorite. Quiero Amarte, though, is that standard ranchera with which Perez has earned his reputation. Hasta El Fin Del Tiempo and El Adios Es Asi are both beautiful tunes, especially the latter with its slow acordeon intro. Perez also offers a re-make of a previous hit, Me Sigo Acordando, but with a mellow feel.
Perez still has a knack for those smooth, R&B-laced cumbias and No Se Me Olvidan will rank as one of his best. Of course, Perez is also known for his powerful ballads and La Ultima Vez proves to be a beautiful anthem to love lost, along with Ya No Puedo Verte. Perez also returns to his country roots with You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This.
Perez and the band close strong with Tu Fiel Amante, which seems to be the next single on the production. The keys, acordeon, and a more than audible guitar give this ranchera a strong foundation.
Kudos to Freddie Records and to Jay Perez for offering up a classy production for the fan base. Always offering a great live show, there’s no doubt that these tunes will sound strong in a live set. Get your CD today through most online music stores.
Ever since the 90s, I’ve been a fan of Stefani. From her early hits like Celos and Por Que Soy Mujer, she has built a following and a career founded on a great voice and great music. Always willing to go the extra mile and try something new, she has stayed true to the Tejano genre. No doubt, her newest release, La Dueña, will rank up there among her greatest works.
Produced by Gilbert Velasquez at VMB Music, Stefani Montiel offers up some rancheras, lots of cumbias, and some beautiful ballads. Kicking off with a rockin’ intro, she leads us into Cumbia Fantasia, an acordeon-heavy vallenato styling based on sonic vocals. And if that tune doesn’t get you dancing, Loca Por Quererte will certainly get you on the dance floor; a ranchera in which she is backed up by David Lee Garza and in which Stefani lets loose on some high notes on the way to catchy chorus.
Earning radio play and popular in the DJ scene has been ¿Quien Quiere Shots?, a get-down-and-party cumbia. The ranchera, Mas Que Amigos, is definitely a hit with its harmonies and conjunto vibe. Other cumbia-rockers include Work and Delirio, which will definitely be dance-floor fillers. La Dueña brings us back to conjunto, the title-track being a proclamation of ones ownership of another’s love–it’ll be another favorite.
My personal favorite tune is Que Risa Me Das, which can only be called some sort of rock-ranchera fusion with its awesome acordeon and bajo sexto licks. It’s one of those insult tunes to a guy that deserves it.
Stefani slows it down with a classical-guitar and mariachi-backed ballad, Adios Adios Amor, in which she belts out the beautiful goodbye song. Si Fue Un Juego and Pero Why are a couple of catchy tunes with a cumbia groove. Agua Bendita is a haunting, slow flamenco-ish tune that many will enjoy. The big ending comes with a re-boot of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, but in a bad-ass cumbia styling.
After listening to all the tunes more than once, I can honestly say that these 13-tracks (plus the intro) make up a full and diverse production for Stefani. There’s no doubt that she and her production team went all-out in creating something special that will be on constant rotation–at least on my MP3!
This is always a great event.
Tuesday, March 1 is Democratic Primary Day. This means, for those that didn’t vote early, that one must vote in their home precinct. Here are a few tips for Tuesday.
But if you think it’s too late and just want to know for whom I voted in the contested races, well, you can VOTE THE STACE SLATE.