Friday, March 30, 2012

Introducing Oscar Hernandez


From what I've been able to gather, Oscar Hernandez was born in Pharr, Texas (he still lives here and gives accordion lessons). His name is spelled two different ways, sometimes it's spelled "Oskar" and other times it's spelled "Oscar". Not sure what is the actual correct spelling but I'm going to refer to him as "Oscar" in this piece. When he was a kid, he already had his own band here in the Valley.

The one thing that sets him apart from other conjunto musicians is the type of accordion he uses. In conjunto music, most accordionist used the three row button diatonic accordion. On the other hand, Hernandez prefers to use the five row chromatic accordion. By the age of 13 years old, he was already recording music with his own conjunto.

His first band that got him a lot of attention was Oscar Hernandez y Los Profesionales. He would go on to join the legendary Conjunto Bernal in the 1960's. While there, he encouraged and convinced Bernal to also use a chromatic accordion. Together they created some absolutely beautiful dual accordion music. Hernandez is rumored to have played lead accordion in some of their most well known tunes like Odiame and El Preso Numero 9.

During the 1960's, Hernandez and Esteban Jordan created "Would You Believe", a fantastic jazzy number on an Jordan Brothers album called La Bamba. At some point, Hernandez also recorded a chromatic version of the TV theme of "I Dream of Jeannie" on an obscure 45 vinyl! Hernandez is also credited with playing with Fabuloso 4 and his Tuff Band. Among his peers, he's considered one of the greatest accordion players ever.

Here are some Hernandez songs and videos to check out. They are all pretty great and a good introduction to one of the greatest musicians South Texas has ever produced:

This track it titled "Homenaje a Paulino Bernal" (Homage to Paulino Bernal):


Oscar Hernandez (chromatic accordion) and Esteban Jordan (diatonic button accordion) creating a beautifully trippy and jazzy tune:


Oscar Hernandez and Paulino Bernal putting together a dazzling number:


Hernandez totally shredding on the chromatic, playing a great polka called "Pantalones" (Pants):


Oscar Hernandez, Juan Tejeda, and Joel Guzman having a fantastic jam session in San Benito:


Oscar Hernandez y the Tuff Band (which features Jesse Serrata as the vocalist) doing a cover of "Yesterday" from The Beatles:


Oscar Hernandez on his classic Playing with Myself album:

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

They all Conjunto Rock!!

SWSPOILER3 said...

Nice piece. A little history, Oscar Hernandez began recording on Falcon & Bronco Records with his band Los Alegres Del Valle, when to Del Valle Records that included a up and coming vocalist by the name of Carlos Guzman. Then went to Bego Records with Carl's Guzman. Oscar Hernandez recorded some 45's on Bego but joined Conjunto Bernal, which left out Carlos Guzman who started his own band, Los Fabulosos Cuatro.

Joel Guzman said...

I met Oscar Hernandez in my hometown; Sunnyside, Washington. He was playing accordion with Conjunto Bernal ( Mando Pena (drums), Manuel Solis (lead vocals), Juan Sifuentes (bass and vocals),Eloy Bernal(bajo sexto).It had to be around 1967...not certain. My dad and I would meet Oscar in the mornings to get some pointers from Oscar. I was inspired to begin playing my own chromatic/hohner 145. My first lesson was nerve wracking. Oscar listened to me play some of his tunes (Descarilando). He then instructed me to go out and and buy an LP of Angelo di Pippo. He said, "listen and learn Flight of the Bumblebee." My life has not been the same ever since. Today,I exclusively play a 3-row diatonic, but I have been able to apply the concept of half-steps to enhance my style of playing. A true story! Joel Guzman

Eduardo said...

Thanks SWSPOILER3 for the info. I hope to listen to more Carlos Guzman from that time period in the near future. I very much like learning about the history of regional music, so thanks.

Thank you so much for sharing that story Joel. Great story, I very much appreciate it. I hope to one day be able to see you perform live, I'm a really huge fan of your work Joel. Take care and thanks again.

Anonymous said...

My Dad is a friend of oskar I even got to meet him weird though oskar looked like he'd do anything for my dad turns out my dad and him have been friends for a long time. I want to be rockstar and oskar told me "in the valley? Good luck"

Unknown said...

Oscar Hernandez is my cousin, and all we know is that he is a tremendous Accordion player and that my Tio got Oscar a man to teach him at around the age of 6/ 7 he has recorded many albums, and has had several conjuntos, and has played with the best that El Valle has,chacha,Senate Bernal ect.he still lives in El Valle, relatives are losing Nietos de Mathis Tx.

luis lerma said...

Oscar Hernandez is my cousin, and all we know is that he is a tremendous Accordion player and that my Tio got Oscar a man to teach him at around the age of 6/ 7 he has recorded many albums, and has had several conjuntos, and has played with the best that El Valle has,chacha,Senate Bernal ect.he still lives in El Valle, relatives are losing Nietos de Mathis Tx.

Anonymous said...

Gilbert from Kingsville, How could I contact him for accordion lessons. email me go2gilby@yahoo.com

Post a Comment