Friday, November 22, 2013

Jesse Flores Jr. y Eskandalo‏

Jesse Flores Jr.
 When he wants to bring the audience up on their feet, Jesse Flores Jr. busts out Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes The Hotstepper".

To keep the evening moving, he has plenty of cumbias up his sleeve. He likes to keep a consistent energy throughout his set. His love for singing started at a very young age.

"I started singing when I was two-years old, my dad had me singing," Flores, 39, said. "I would sing simple songs like 'You Are My Sunshine', 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' and all those."


Jesse as a young mariachi.
By the time Flores was six, he was already singing popular mariachi tunes in Spanish. At the age of twelve, he added keyboard playing to his repertoire.

His first exposure came from performing with his father, Jesse Flores Sr. When he turned fourteen, he secured his first professional gig with Wally Garza y Su Sangre Tejana. Shortly thereafter, Flores joined Carlos Miranda's band.

"I was the youngest keyboard player that he's ever had," said Flores of the late Tejano legend Carlos Miranda. "I was still going to (PSJA) high school when I was performing with him."

After high school, Flores became a part of Fandango USA in 1993. During that Tejano era, Fandango USA's "La Charanga" grew into a monster regional hit. It ended up winning "Song of the Year" (1994) honors at the Tejano Music Awards. Flores felt honored being a part of something huge. But according to him, the best was yet to come.

In 1996, Tejano superstar Emilio Navaira had an opening for a keyboard player. Flores filled that spot and was soon on the road.

Flores considers this the peak of his career. At the time, Navaira was attempting to branch out of Tejano music by participating in country music tours. One such tour took Navaira and Flores to Europe. Flores was not only learning about music, but about different cultures as well.

"We went to Switzerland and opened up for Billy Ray Cyrus," Flores recalls. "It was awesome, we did a whole week there."

Other country musicians that they performed with included Alan Jackson and Kenny Rogers.

After four in a half years of performing with Navaira, Flores decided it was time to move on.

"When I left Emilio, I left the scene for two years and then I came back to the Valley."

He and several other musicians created the Tex-Mex Kadillaks. Along the years the group won several awards, including "Most Promising Band" from the Valley Choice Awards in 2006. They released five CD's in their time together.

Flores then shifted to the next phase of his career, as he formed the Gaslight Club band. They released one CD, then Flores transitioned over to his current band — Jesse Flores Jr. y Eskandalo. The rest of the group consists of Guillermo Garcia (accordionist; segunda voz), Jerry Vasquez (bass player), Rene Espinoza (drums) and Javier Guerra (electric guitar).

When asked who his key influences are, he points to two figures.

"My idols were Brando Mireles from Mazz and the late Jerry De La Rosa," Flores said. "I've branched those two keyboard players and made my own style."

He also mentions being an admirer of Beto Ramon's signature composing style.

This past Summer, Eskandalo completed their first album — Vuelve A Mi. Local conjunto accordionist Lucky Joe Paredes is credited with composing the title track.

"It's a mix of conjunto, Tejano, and cumbias," Flores describes his new album.

Flores hopes to start working on his next album in January 2014.

He has become a regular performer at Club Rio in Edinburg, where he will be performing at this Friday and Saturday night. When he looks out into the audience and sees them dancing, he knows he has accomplished his goal.

"My forte and my focus in playing is to get everyone to dance," Flores said. "I try to stay on top of the game, because there are always new artists coming up, that are trying to bring their own style and a new era of music. I respect that so much because that's what we're trying to do, to keep the Tejano music alive."

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