Friday, November 15, 2013

Q&A: Bernardo Martinez II of Bernardo y Sus Compadres‏

Bernado Martinez II y Pepe Maldonado
Fresh off from completing his latest album, "Siempre" on JB records, regional star Bernardo Martinez II returns to La Lomita Park this Sunday night. Bernardo y Sus Compadres has been a conjunto circuit staple since the 1970's. For over forty years, they have been providing Texas audiences with old fashion, Taquachito-style dance music. In recent years, the Laredo native has been honored with several awards, including being inducted into the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame in 2007. While he's the type of man that lets his music speak for itself, he was happy to share some brief thoughts with us here today.

Festiva: Your career started in Laredo in the early 1970's. Were there any local musicians that influenced your style?

Bernardo Martinez II: Not really in Laredo. In Laredo, it was just my dad (that influenced me). Pero the musicians that influenced me were Ruben Naranjo, Tony De La Rosa, Ruben Vela, Gilberto Perez. All of those bands. El compás of the conjunto (Their beat of conjunto). I liked it.

Festiva: When did you first travel to the Valley, to perform?

BMII: Oh it was in the early 80's when I used to go to (San Benito venues like) La Villita, 77 (Night) Club, KC Hall. (Then after that) it was all over (the Valley).

Festiva: Who are the current members of your band?

BMII: On drums I have (my son) Bernie Martinez III. On the accordion I have Charlie Saenz, from Pearland, TX. Bajo-sexto, Sunny Guerra. On the bass guitar I got Ralph (Perez). And then I have, who has recorded with me also, Gilberto Perez Jr.

I'm the vocalist but I play the accordion too. I learned by myself, when I was 14 years old.

Festiva: You will be performing on a double bill with Lazaro Perez y su conjunto. Are you familiar with this up-and-coming accordionist?

BMII: Oh yeah, he's a good friend of mine. I met Lazaro when he was around 14, 15 years old. When he first started to play the accordion, he used to play with me. Around Kingsville and Corpus, he would play a polka with me or two. Now he's a superman. It's a very good conjunto.

Festiva: For how long have you known musician and promoter Pepe Maldonado?

BMII: I have known him for forty years. He used to record himself and he had a lot of hits. I met him in Laredo, then I saw him in the Valley. Pepe Maldonado is a very good friend.

Festiva: You've played at La Lomita Park in the past, what are your impressions of this venue?

BMII: I like it, I like it, it's a real nice place. Se ve (I see) a lot of couples; young couples and old couples, who like conjunto. So I love it, La Lomita is one of my favorite places to play.

Festiva: Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it.

BMII: Thank you.

Bernardo y Sus Compadres Albums You Can Listen To on Spotify: "Siempre", "El Enamorado", "Puros Compas", "Botella Maldita", "Tres Generaciones", "El Muchacho Alegre", "El Castigador", "El Rey", "El Huerfano", "El Hijo Del Pueblo", "Amores Que Van y Vienen", "Un Sentimiento" and "Las Isabeles".

Performers: Bernardo y Sus Compadres, Lazaro Perez y su conjunto.
Time: 6:00 PM
Date: 11/17
Cost: $10.00
Phone Number and Website: 956-867-8783 or visit
Location: La Lomita Park, in McAllen.

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