Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jose Guadalupe Hernandez

The Valley has long been a home base to some of the best button diatonic accordionists in the world. Many were born in this area, but many also came from Mexico and different parts of Texas to record their music with regional record companies here that specialized in Mexican-American and Mexican music.

Jose Guadalupe Hernandez (also referred to as Don Lupe) was born in Zacatecas, Zacatecas in Mexico on December 12, 1930. He would eventually move with his family to Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas at the age of 10 years old. While in Valle Hermoso, he started playing the accordion and would later meet bajo sexto player Jose Luis Reyes there. The two formed a musical bond and would soon relocate to Reynosa for better opportunities.

Like many musicians of the time period and many future musicians on both sides of the border, Hernandez was a big admirer of Los Alegres de Terán. As a young accordionist, he was influenced by them and was also a fan of Los Donneños and Valley accordion icon Narciso Martinez. Soon, shortly after moving to Reynosa, Hernandez and Reyes came across the border to record for Discos Falcón in McAllen. They recorded the songs "Adios Mi Rosa Maria" and "Reina de Mi Vida" under the name "Hernandez y Reyes".

After that, Hernandez and Reyes would name their group Los Madrugadores Del Valle. In the early 1960's they would go on to accompany "El Piporro" (Lalo Gonzalez) on a United States tour, on two records and on the film Se Alquila Marido. The most famous song they performed with El Piporro was the tune "Chulas Fronteras", which was a very popular hit in those days.

"We were with [Piporro], but we were only with him for about two years cause we had our own band and we wanted to concentrate on our own music," said Don Lupe in Spanish.

Los Madrugadores Del Valle only recorded once for Falcón, they then decided to move to other record labels in the Rio Grande Valley. They recorded for other hugely popular labels like Discos Del Valle, Ramiro Cavazos' Discos RyN, and Discos Bego. Outside the Valley, they would go on to record for Discos Marsol and Joey Records in San Antonio. From the 1960's through the 1980's, they played in numerous dance halls and venues across the Valley.

"We would play in a lot of places [in the Valley], so many different places but it's been such a long time I can't remember them all," laughs Don Lupe.

Hernandez and Reyes also spent a lot of time traveling outside these borderlands to spread their music across the United States. Don Lupe is very proud that he was able to tour across the nation with Reyes and his bandmates.

"We would go to California, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, and many other places," Don Lupe said.

One of Don Lupe's most famous polkas was titled "La Pan Americana", which he recorded for Harlingen's KGBT studios. That composition would end up becoming a well-known piece as KGBT would use that spirited polka during their radio broadcast promos. Another famous piece he composed during this time period was "La Baby Del Valle", which also got a lot of air play and was eventually recorded by Discos RyN. Not only were they on the radio, but they were also on television as Los Madrugadores Del Valle would make a memorable appearance on "The Johnny Canales Show" in the 1980's.

"We played 2 or 3 corridos in his program, basically our music was listened to a lot in the Valley," Don Lupe said.

In the late 1980's, after a long time partnership with Jose Luis Reyes, they recorded their final record together. That record contained their version of "Piel Canela" for Joey Records. Shortly after that, Reyes would pass away.

"We were together for many years until he passed away in 1988," Don Lupe said. "We were together as musicians for around 29 to 30 years."

Don Lupe now resides in South Bend, Indiana with his longtime wife of many years and his close family. He still plays the accordion in a band he has formed with his sons. Don Lupe plays the squeezebox as strong as ever, incredibly youthful for a man who is now 82 years old. It seems that at this point in time, Don Lupe could potentially be the oldest active norteño accordionist still playing in the world. He keeps in touch with his longtime musician friends like accordionist Ramon Ayala, who he regularly talks to on the phone and meets up with when Ayala visits Indiana. When he's not playing with his sons, he gives accordion lessons to his students and introduces younger generations to his style of music. It's been 21 years since he's recorded for a label but it gives Don Lupe a lot of joy that many people are using the internet to bring attention to older musicians such as himself. One of his accordion students, Santa Rosa native Robert Rodriguez, has worked towards uploading many of Don Lupe's most famous tunes on YouTube. Don Lupe feels very gracious that his family, friends, students and fans are helping keep his music alive.

"He is to this day, very, very serious about music and he feels that it is a very important part of our culture and our contribution to society," said Robert Rodriguez. "These very songs that [Don Lupe] gave life to, are now coming back to return that life to him."


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

La Historia de Esteban Jordan (Entry 5) - Jazz Covers

These are two of my all time favorite Jordan videos. Similar to what I mentioned in a previous Caballero post, you're also not going to find many professionally shot videos on Jordan. But I'm really glad we have these, to capture why Jordan was a big influence and inspiration to so many guys like Guzman, Caballero, Yanez, and Castillo. Hermes filmed this live Jordan performance, and it seemed to have aired on a TV show and was released on DVD (limited? to a select few?). Where did this TV show air (which includes an interview with Jordan, Castillo, and Jordan's sons) and where did this DVD get sold? I have no idea but I really would love to know. Anyways, after Jordan passed away, these videos were uploaded by Gilbert Reyes, a Harlingen native that works with Hohner so I should probably contact him.

Jordan considered himself a jazz artist. In some interviews he did during the course of his career, he expressed frustration at not doing as much jazz as he would like. He was able to do jazz, blues, and totally experimental accordion licks during his conjunto music. He was a total maestro at what he accomplished as a musician.  Here he is doing two jazz standards on the button diatonic accordion - "Summertime" and George Benson's "Clockwise". Really fantastic videos that captured Jordan's greatness. Also, the drummer to the video is Juanito Castillo, Jordan's accordion protege, a kid who can go on to become one of the best accordionists ever. The third video here is a TV recording of this same event.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Peter Torgerson Busted

Lottery winner and memorable KRGV personality Peter Torgerson has been arrested for a DWI charge. Here is the full story from KRGV's rival KGBT station. 
Harlingen Police arrested a former Valley news anchor for driving while intoxicated early Thursday morning. 
Officers responded to the 3200 block of Treasure Hills Boulevard at 2:20 a.m., in reference to a car accident. 
When they arrived, they found a blue 2006 Porsche Cayenne, driven by Peter Torgerson, 56, that had struck a parked car. 
The officer noticed Torgerson had blood shoot eyes, slurred speech, poor balance, and the strong smell of alcohol on his breath. 
He submitted Torgerson to a field sobrierity test, which he failed. 
The officer arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. 
Torgerson refused to take a breathylizer test. 
He faced a judge Thursday morning and was issued a $500 bond. 
Torgerson was a longtime television anchor for the 5 p.m. evening news at KRGV. 
He quit in 1999 after winning the $37 million dollar Texas Lottery, along with a friend. 
Both men chose the cash option and split more than $19 million between them.
I wrote about Torgerson before on here. By the looks of his photograph, it looks like he's been enjoying the  the good life. Probably partying at South Padre Island. At least he he didn't get pulled over at a strip club parking lot with two women like Jon Jones.

Frankie Caballero in San Perlita, TX

Jazzy and creative, with Caballero you're usually not going to find him in professionally shot videos or anything of that sort. You're going to find small glimpses of him at a house, outdoors, or at a local cantina being recorded by a friends cell phone camera. Just raw shot video footage of Caballero being great for the niche audience that really digs his artistry. As the years pass and we get older, one thing we can count on is Caballero being a unique individual and musician in the Valley. What a life he's had. 

R. Bruce Tharpe now controls the National Wrestling Alliance

This is fascinating news for professional wrestling fans of the Rio Grande Valley. IWF promoter and Brownsville lawyer R. Bruce Tharpe looks to have now taken over the National Wrestling Alliance. Here's the initial report from Dave Meltzer:
Those who stated that the lawsuit filed by former Championship Wrestling from Florida ring announcer and now Brownsville, TX, attorney Bruce Tharpe was a way to garner control of the NWA were right. But those who predicted he had no case appear to have been wrong. 
The lawsuit was settled this week, and as part of the settlement, the NWA name and intellectual property has been transfered from Pro Wrestling Organization, LLC, headed by Bob Trobich, to a new company headed by Tharpe. Trobich had resigned as head of the NWA as a result of the suit, which charged the NWA as committing insurance fraud by having insurance for shows that would draw 100 fans or less when many shows drew more tha that. Tharpe claimed the NWA was able to garner new members by the promise of having their house shows insured if they joined. 
Trobich appears to be the only major player out as the other members of the board will stay on with the new company headed by Tharpe.
Hopefully this will be a positive for the local wrestling community here in the Valley. Lately, it seems that Tharpe has only been running shows out of the Cameron County market, I would like to see him have shows throughout the Valley in the near future. When IWF was on television in the past, it wasn't the greatest pro wrestling show by any means. I was critical of some stuff here and there, but it felt like an actual professional wrestling show with actual veteran workers and I really appreciated the entertainment they brought me on the weekends. The McAllen promotion Wrestling Revolution doesn't feel like a pro wrestling show to me. Tharpe has a much better and deeper understanding of professional wrestling than the Wrestling Revolution crew. Tharpe grew up in the business, he was around when Florida wrestling was at its peak, he refereed and worked as a ring announcer around guys like Terry Funk and Dusty Rhodes. You can ask Tharpe about Eddie Graham's booking and promoting in the Florida territory and he'll be able to discuss it with you from an insiders point of view since he worked under Graham. So at the very least, Tharpe "gets" wrestling better than some 25 year old kids pretending to wrestle in McAllen on 17th street. No offense to the WR crew, they seem like nice people and they seem like they're having a lot of fun (and I know they have a lot of supporters), but I'll take Tharpe (and the great Golden King) over them any day of the week. Also, Tharpe understands how important lucha libre is to a market like this (he's brought up many luchadores before, including El Hijo Del Santo, whose iconic "tope de cristo" was replayed many times during Tharpe's IWF show run).

So will Colt Cabana be making another appearance soon to defend his NWA crown? Will Tharpe be running more in the McAllen market? Will we be seeing more of the Golden King, who I think is probably the best worker here? I just hope this means more solid, quality professional wrestling for all of us here in the Valley. Huge congratulations to R. Bruce Tharpe, I wish him the best of luck in handling the NWA. Genuinely happy for Mr. Tharpe.