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Accordion Dreams Pioneers And Innovators
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Jaime De Anda

Jaime De Anda

Real Audio Yolanda, Freddy Records
Dangerous, Freddy Records

With a new style--a new look--and a new way of playing the accordion--Jaime de Anda and his band set the standard for a new generation of conjunto musicians in the 1980's. Dressing more like contemporary rock musicians as well combining the use of a rock beat at the beginning of a ranchera, they started a trend that would bring the younger generation to conjunto.
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picture of Mingo Saldivar
Pedro Ayala

Pedro Ayala

Instrumentalist and composer, Pedro Ayala penned many inspiring waltzes. His style and grace was unequaled by any of his contemporaries during the 50's.
Paulino Bernal

Paulino Bernal

Real Audio Mi Borrachera, IDEAL Records

Ushering in a new era, Paulino was the exception among conjunto musicians in his use of the expensive and large chromatic accordion. In the 1950's, Paulino and his brother, Eloy, stunned audiences with a style of accordion music never heard before. His musical talent and style was considered light years ahead of its time creating a smooth blending of his serious music with its harmonies into his signature polka style. He would become one of the most influential conjunto musicians in history.
Camilo Cantu

Camilo Cantu

After being retired from performing for almost twenty-four years, conjunto great, Camilo Cantu, was inducted into the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in 1987 without a single recording. According to one fellow musician, he was "the greatest accordion player in Central Texas in the '40's and 50's." Known for his no-nonsense approach to making music, Camilo didn't name his songs which were mostly instrumental. In the tradition of many conjunto musicians who cared that their craft would live on, Camilo shared his musical knowledge with others through teaching.
Johnny Degollado

Johnny Degollado

Real Audio Las Altenitas, DLB Records

Degollado learned from conjunto great, Camilo Cantu and is today one of the best known Austin conjunto accordionists. He is one of the few performers who has come from as far north as Austin, Texas.
Tony De La Rosa

Tony De La Rosa

Real Audio Atotonilco, IDEAL Records

By experimenting with ways to reach a larger audience, Tony De La Rosa created a new dance sound that became distinctly Texas-Mexican. Adding drums and electric bass, he slowed the rhythm down and made it very easy to dance to. He sparked a new dance called tacuachito.
Los Donnenos

Los Donneños

Ramiro Cavazos and Mario Montez became known as one of the standards in the genre of duet singing. The musical pair was one of the first U.S. ensembles to crossover into Mexico.
Amadeo Flores

Amadeo Flores

Real Audio Amadeo Flores, El Sube y Baja, live recording

Amadeo Flores, from the tradition of the Paulino Bernal era of the 1960's, is known for his technique of utilizing chords instead of individual buttons.
Victoria

Victoria Galvan

Discovered recently by independent label Hacienda Records, fifteen-year-old Victoria has recorded her first single with a musical career set to launch. Hacienda has scheduled performances, radio tours and personal appearances as part of her professional debut.
Joel Guzman

Joel Guzman

Having grown up in a musical family and playing the accordion all of his life, Joel Guzman realized that the accordion had no limits. Born into a dual identity, both Mexican and American, Joel continues to merge both cultures into his accordion style.
Flaco Jimenez

Flaco Jiménez

Real Audio El Guero Polkas, IDEAL Records

Following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Santiago Jiménez, Flaco created a unique Tex-Mex accordion sound that cuts through all genres. He has added influences such as country, rock, blues and cajun zydeco which have increased his appeal to a broader audience. In the opinion of some, he is probably the best-known conjunto artist in the world with incredible endurance.
Esteban Jordán

Esteban Jordán

Breaking barriers into other music genres such as jazz and rock, Jordán is considered one of the most talented accordionists today by many Tejano musicians. Hohner Accordions has named an accordion after him called the "Rockordion".
Benny Layton

Benny Layton/Los Hermanos Layton

Highly representative of a family conjunto. The group is an institution in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and has been recording since 1957.
Little Joe and the Latinaires

Little Joe and the Latinaires

Real Audio Las Nubes, Freddy Records

Little Joe crossed over to other types of music like rock & roll, country western and rhythm & blues the way many Tejano musicians did. Reflecting a new era of cultural awareness for Mexican Americans, Little Joe and the Latinaires changed their name to La Familia. The band's song, "Las Nubes", combined an old Mexican song and layered in symphony strings, a brass ensemble and harmonic vocals. Setting a new standard in Tejano music, the song embodied the spirit of the Chicano movement. In 1985, Little Joe proved to Columbia Records that there was money to be made in the Tejano market.
Valerio Longoria

Valerio Longoria

Real Audio Valerio Longoria, Abandonada, live recording

A great innovator, Valerio Longoria developed a totally distinctive style that was more vibrant and polished. He is credited with many innovations within the genre including being one of the first musicians to perform standing up with straps on, as well as incorporating singing with his music where previously it had all been instrumental. Valerio is also credited with introducing the romantic songs called boleros into conjunto, which were considered more of a high-class vocal tradition.
Isidro Lopez

Isidro López

As orchestras in south Texas were evolving in the 1950's, Isidro López appeared on the scene and gave the music a homegrown voice and made it more accessible to the working class. Using trumpets, trombones, saxes and piano, he didn't sing in a flowery Spanish voice--but instead in Tex-Mex. Isidro and his band created a new sensation and sang to crowded dance halls. Through his music, Isidro López came to represent success, and the aspiration of the working class Tejano.
Juan Lopez

Juan Lopez

Juan Lopez is known as "El Rey de la Redova". Celebrating his seventy-fifth birthday, the master accordionist is one of the last links to a bygone era. Lopez helped define a unique musical tradition that still exists today.
Carmen y Laura

Carmen y Laura

Real Audio Se Me Fue Mi Amor, IDEAL Records

With Carmen Marroquín and her sister Laura as his topsellers, Armando Marroquín is said to be the first Mexican American to produce a conjunto record in the U.S. The Marroquíns founded Ideal Record Company in Alice, Texas in 1946 and an industry was born.
Narciso

Narciso Martínez

Real Audio La Cuquita, IDEAL Records

Known as the father of conjunto music and as "El Huracán del Valle" for his fast-paced accordion playing, Narciso Martínez redefined the role of the accordion. With partner Santiago Almeida handling the bass accompaniment with the bajo sexto, Narciso focused on the melody with the accordion. This is what created the distinctive sound conjunto is known for.
Lydia Mendoza

Lydia Mendoza

Real Audio Mal Hombre, DLB Records

Lydia Mendoza made her recording debut at twelve years old, and almost a century later, has become a living legend of Tejano music. Her signature song, "Mal Hombre" has become an enduring classic in both the U.S. and Mexico. During the 1930's, Lydia's prolific style included almost 200 recordings. She became known as "La Alondra de La Frontera", the Lark of the Border.
Sunny Ozuna

Sunny Ozuna

Real Audio Just A Moment, Joey Records

Like many of his generation, Sunny was influenced more by the music on American Bandstand than by the Spanish language of his parents. Singing English music, Sunny Ozuna managed to achieve a stardom never imagined by Tejano musicians. His song "Talk to Me" reached the Billboard Top 40 and was heard from coast to coast. Realizing his dream, Sunny would appear on the very show that had inspired his generation, Dick Clark's American Bandstand. This was quite an accomplishment. After flirting with the American music scene, Sunny would eventually return to the music that his hometown audience demanded.
Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos

Roberto Pulido y Los Clásicos

Real Audio Si Tienes Corazon, Lago

In the 1970's, Roberto Pulido y Los Clásicos broke new ground by combining a brass sound with the accordion. Roberto would later become an institution, but in the early years, his performance style and tenor voice caught audiences by surprise.
Cecilia Saenz & Her Father

Cecilia Saenz

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather, a gifted accordionist, Cecilia Saenz is part of a new wave of conjunto musicians who are finding their roots in the traditional music. She is also part of a growing trend of female conjunto musicians.
Mingo Saldivar

Mingo Saldivar

Real Audio La Monjita de las Piñatas, live recording

Mingo Saldivar continues to travel weekly with his band playing conjunto and bringing dance halls to life. Like many conjunto musicians, he relies on self-promotion. A network of Spanish language radio stations all along the conjunto circuit provides outlets for publicity. Acting as their own managers and booking agents, conjunto musicians promote their latest recordings and drum up business for their next show.
Jesse Turner

Jesse Turner

Real Audio La Regañona, Crown Records

Jesse Turner mixes the rap and heavy metal funk sound into "funk accordion" to appeal to the younger generation. He and his band have staged free concerts in area schools in the Rio Grand Valley to Mexican American teens who are heavily influenced by mainstream pop music. Having generated a buzz and attained local celebrity status, Jesse has recently signed a contract with an independent label.
Ruben Vela

Rubén Vela

Real Audio La Quebrada, IDEAL Records

Rubén Vela refined the "dance hall" sound in the tradition of Tony De La Rosa. With his arrangements of the Mexican song tradition called "ranchera", Rubén Vela popularized an irresistable dance beat.
Beto Villa

Beto Villa

Real Audio Morir Sonando, IDEAL Records

Beto Villa successfully bridged the gap between traditional Mexican music and popular American music -- considered the Lawrence Welk of the time. Playing high tone or "highbrow" orchestra music, he gave the music, and those attending dances, a middle class respectable air. Beto is considered the father of Tejano orquesta and strongly influenced the future development of this musical style.
Bruno Villareal

Bruno Villareal

Real Audio La Bella Italia, Arhoolie

A conjunto legend. Virtually blind, Bruno Villareal is credited with the first recording of a conjunto accordionist. Born and lived in South Texas, Bruno began playing the two-row accordion, but eventually switched to the piano accordion.
Eva Ybarra

Eva Ybarra

Real Audio Olvidate De Me, Hacienda Records

A self-taught musician, Eva began playing at icehouses, restaurants and dance halls when she was six years old. Eva broke the barrier for other women accordionists and today remains one of the genres most prolific accordionists.
Albert Zamorra

Albert Zamora

Real Audio Este Gran Dolor, Hacienda Records

Albert Zamora burst on the nightclub scene in the early '90s infusing a hard-edged style to conjunto. While he is proficient in playing many instruments--"he chooses to play the accordion." Albert continues to experiment to find new ways to play an Old World instrument.