Photo Credit: nickchainOn May 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting Ernesto Guerra outside Cine El Rey in downtown McAllen, TX. Unfortunately he was overlooked by the young "hip" crowd as he performed some slick polkas on his two row diatonic accordion. Every once in a while, he would have to take a break to smoke a cigarette and I can sense that his hands were in significant pain due to arthritis. I ended up having a fun conversation with him, but I really regret not getting his contact information. He reminisced about his fellow peers and about the time he bought his first accordion as a young man in the 1950's. He described the accordion as being quite similar to the one he was playing with that late Spring night and talked about how it cost him 30 some dollars at a local McAllen store. So he's someone that has been rocking polkas on the accordion for over seven decades!
He has played and toured with bands under the names of Los Alegres del Valle and Conjunto Del Valle. He has also recorded music for various record labels like Del Valle, Valen, Bego, and El Pato. To accordion aficionados, his polkas like "La Psycodelica", "El Pata de palo", "Flicka" and "King Kong" are fondly remembered as great works by Guerra. But sadly, some of his music has remained pretty obscure and difficult to find. I did luck out when I tracked down and got a hold of this Ernesto Guerra 45 from a gentlemen in Illinois. Both sides have some cool Guerra rancheras and this record happened to be in perfect condition (which is amazing since it has to be close to 50 years old).
Here he is playing one of his original polka compositions with Ramiro Cavazos, one of the members of the legendary South Texas band Los Donneños. Excellent video showing Guerra's maestro accordion work.
Here he is playing "Linda Dolores", one of his classic polkas at a get together with his friends. Beautiful polka.