Monday, January 03, 2011
Tómate Esta Botella Con Migo...
Siempre caigo en los mismos errores.
Otra vez a tocar con extraños.
Y a cantarle a los mismos dolores...
OK, words changed a little bit from Jose Alfredo's version. I've been thinking about what to do between now and my 45th... 46th birthdays. (Long story for another time.) I know that I will be working a lot on politics for the next round of elections. I already quit one band and told the other that I would likely take a short to long break after graduation from the MPH program.
So I started talking with musician friends about what I would like to do with music in my life. So below will be a quick overview of that and some of my musical history and links for anyone who wants to hear what I'm talking about. Part of my difficulties so far is that most people I have been playing with do not take the time to listen to much accordion music so it gets difficult to try and express what I'm trying to get people to do. The other is that often the accordion is a funky add on for people and they could be happy with me playing keyboards instead.
In the most basic sense, I want to play urban Chicano Acordeón. For me the fundamental example of that is Esteban "Steve" Jordan. Of course I don't play button accordion, but the urban nature of the music is what grabs me. This has been an issue since I was raised by very rural grandparents, I've picked berries, and living in New Mexico also doesn't embrace urbanism completely - and for some good reasons. Growing up I also listened to Jimi Hendrix, Suicidal Tendencies, The Beatles, Jimmy Reed, Oldies, Santana, El Chicano, War, even The Doors, Prince, and George Clinton, Tierra and other amazing groups who played music in English.
(Huh, listening to El Chicano just reminded me how we used to get into the deep music beyond what's on the radio these days...) Sounds like I was a musical sponge, there are lots of groups I can keep thinking of that I've tried to at least learn one of their songs...
Then there was the earlier stuff. The Chicano Mexicano stuff that was on at home all of the time. My uncles owned a bar and my Abuelita was the cook. So I remember hanging out at the bar. I first played pool standing on a chair at about 4 years old. There were almost always some Relampagos del Norte going on. Ruben Vela, Tony de La Rosa, Los Gavilanes, Los Dos Gilbertos, Los Alegres de Teran and Conjunto Bernal were also normal at the house.
And of course there are groups who I still learn about and try to learn from like Albert Zamora and El Tri. My favorites are Los Garcia and Esteban Jordan. Esteban is who influences my concept of what can be done on the Acordeón and why I feel comfortable playing on rock, blues, R & B, even country and other styles. It's why I can go to jam night. Sometimes people trip out on the instrument, but I usually do fine. I didn't grow up listening to Louisiana music but I have listened to some of those masters as well, but I'm not much interested in being that type of player. I doubt that many people go to New Orleans and ask if they play conjunto, but people ask me if I play cajun... I don't. I can add a little touch of it, but I can't say I play it as it should be played.
So all of that to say that I would like to take some traditional songs and make them relate to an urban Chicano reality. Take an oldie like El Ultimo Trago, and shuffle it with accordion. To do that, and to do English songs with a Chicano feel. And also take very traditional songs and push the urban part of the ranchera. Pushing Volver, Volver as a cumbia. Maybe some straight Chicano Jazz or blurring the line between cumbia and salsa, or between polkas and jazz. That's my goal. And if I can do it at a Route 66 Roadhouse that would be even better!
I don't know if I can live up to all of that while I work, support my family and go to grad school. But if I don't try to rush it, I can have fun trying!
Maybe a song every couple of weeks if my musical friends can put up with it!!!
El acordeon no debe ser solo un 'agregado' al sonido de un grupo (bella que sea el resultado), pero el corazon del son - asi como los Garcia, o los viejos como de la Rosa.
Let's lay some rock & country over an accordion foundation - not the other way around.