I'm always amazed at how quickly a year passes by. A year ago, I wrote my first piece for this "Regional Ramblings" column on The Many Sounds of Esteban "Steve" Jordan. Two years ago, I wrote my first article for The Monitor on Ramiro Cavazos, the legendary bajo-sexto player of Los Donneños.
The best thing about writing about regional music is that it feels like you're consistently discovering stories that may fallen through the cracks. Getting in touch with local musicians and slowly learning about their own personal history with music feels uplifting at times.
Recently, my aunt and uncle gave me a DVD copy of an evening at Donna Hooks Fletcher Museum that celebrated Donna's rich history of border music. The 3-hour video of this event featured several musicians that I was not familiar with. This great Christmas present reminded me how there is still plenty of ground to cover here in the Valley. The depth of Tejano, conjunto, and norteño musicians that we have in this area is astonishing.
Random gems from these musicians pop up from time to time, you never know when something from the past will be re-discovered in the present day. Someone online might upload a great track from an obscure vinyl record or post some random video that they shot in the middle of nowhere. Sadly, some of these discoveries will eventually disappear, like a Frankie Caballero potpourri that somehow mixed his accordion contributions to Bobby Pulido's "Desvelado" with Black Sabbath's "Iron Man". I wish I would have saved that one on my hard-drive! Here's to more novelty, obscure and bizzare Valley-music being explored in 2014.
Outside the Valley, I have several things I'm looking forward to in the new year. I'm very excited about the Smithsonian Folkways' Flaco y Max - Legends and Legacies CD, which is scheduled to be released in February. Max Baca is one of my all-time favorite bajo-sexto players, and when I talked to him about this project, he was very enthusiastic about how the recording sessions with Flaco Jimenez turned out. Also, I hope that we finally get to hear some new information about the eight unreleased Esteban Jordan albums that his children are currently in possession of. I've been waiting to hear release dates about these mysterious albums since the release of Carta Espiritual in 2010.
As for my biggest music-related goal of the new year, it deals with a three-row, button diatonic accordion that I bought from Hermes Music a year ago. Through a DVD instructional, YouTube videos, and the excellent Señor Maestro program, I feel like I've come as far as I can on my own. Which isn't much, honestly. So this week, I've made plans to get lessons from an established accordion teacher, who has an excellent reputation. I'm very excited about my first lesson, which will be coming up very soon. Hopefully this time next year, I'll be able to bust out a variety ofpiezas in the company of family and friends.
I'm eager to share more stories with you this upcoming year. If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas, feel free to email me. I always look forward to hearing from my readers.
¡Feliz Año Nuevo!