San Antonio's Jay Perez returns to the Valley, for an event that will celebrate his twenty-plus year career in Tejano music. The award-winning vocalist took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to me about his career and the future of the genre.
Eduardo Martinez: What can the fans expect to hear on Saturday night?
Jay Perez: What we like to do is we normally throw in the new stuff (first), that we've been promoting for the past year. Then we'll do some old school songs that launched off my career with the Latin Breed, off to (my stint) with David Lee Garza y Los Musicales and then (go) up-to-date. That's pretty much it.
EM: What did you take away from your time with Latin Breed?
JP: It was pretty much a free education when I was with the Latin Breed. They were much older than I was when I joined them. The singers that they had, both of them prior to me getting into the band, turned out to be some of my greatest mentors — Adalberto Gallegos, Jimmy Edwards. Of course the caliber of musicians that were on that stage — the horn players, the keyboard player, the guitar player, the drummer, the bass player — were all just monsters. These guys were at the top of their game, ahead of everybody at the time. They were just unbelievable. That was my time to learn, from people who knew.
EM: In 1993, you released your first solo album, "Te Llevo En Mi". What are the key differences in your style from then to now?
JP: It hasn't really changed much, man. I don't like to change my formula too much, because people are familiar with the first album that I recorded on my own. It just carried on from there. The style, the chord progressions, the melodies, the songs that I write, and the songwriters that have given me hits over the years, we have pretty much kept it the same way.
You don't really want to change much of your music and confuse the people. You really don't want to do that. But what you do want to do is give them a variety of things. I can sing country, R&B, a little bit of mariachi, not that much but I've tried it in the past, and of course my Tejano music. With all that, we've kept that same style, formula, and flavor over the years. It's worked asta la fecha (to date).
EM: How important has producer Gilbert Velasquez been to your career?
JP: He's another mentor of mine. The little genius behind the board, that's what I call him. He has done it all. I've learned a lot from him. A lot of the ideas, concepts have come from Gilbert. I'm not giving him all the credit but I'm giving him the majority of the credit. He's an icon in this business. Very well respected, not only as a musician, but as a producer, arranger and engineer as well. I'm still recording with him.
EM: Looking at the modern-day Tejano scene, what do you think should be done to ensure the future of the genre?
JP: I think that the new artists that are coming up and making a lot of noise, in a good way, have to step up their game. I think that if they lose track and lose focus of what the people are asking for, this industry is going to go down.
I think that the new generation has got everything in the palm of their hands to keep this industry going, to keep Tejano music alive. It's up to them. Dedication and the love for music is number one. They should realize that.
Over the years, I've won so many awards. I've earned my position in this industry because I've been dedicated to what I do. Our writing has always been up to par. Now the younger generation that is coming up right now, has to think along those lines and look at the musicians that have been doing this for years. Ruben Ramos, Little Joe, the Emilio's, the Ram's, the Shelly's, the Stephanie's, the Elida's. They have to look at those musicians and think to themselves, "If they are still around doing what they're doing, still very successful at what they're doing, what's keeping us from doing the same thing?" If they think along those lines, this industry can only grow bigger.
EM: Thank you for your time, good luck on Saturday.
JP: Thank you brother.
Time: 9:00 PM to 1:00 AM.
Cost: $15.00 presale, $20.00 at the door.
Phone Number: 956-460-5401
Location: Weslaco Catholic War Veterans Hall.