Conjunto Solis returns to the Valley this Sunday night at La Lomita Park in McAllen. The Coastal Bend-area act was previously known as "Loz Homyz" and "Loz Unikoz" before settling on their current name in the early 2000's. The band includes four brothers and one close friend — Javier Solis (vocals), Pedro "Pio" Solis Jr. (vocals and accordion), Lino Solis (vocals and bajo-sexto), Alfonso Solis (drums) and Victor Lara III (bass). Javier Solis, the oldest brother, joined me for a conversation this week.
Festiva: Growing up in Gregory, TX, who were some of the local influences you had?
Javier: It would have to be Angel Flores (y) Los Alacranes, being that they were the first conjunto that we would listen to. Of course tambien out of Gregory, TX, you have Ricky Smith y La Movida. We also had, back in the day, Los Bandidos de Albert and Ruben Lopez. (They) were also the songwriters of "Como Te Llamas Paloma". We also had the influence (of) Mr. Guadalupe Reyes, which musicians know for his famous bajo-sextos and guitars.
Festiva: What was it about Angel Flores that appealed to you?
Javier: We first started back in '94, we were a cover band, a local band. We were real young. We would do a lot of covers from different groups, from local bands, and also whatever we would hear on the radio. It came about in 2002-2003, when Conjunto Solis finally set their sound to what we have now. Of course, Angel Flores being a real good friend of our father, and of the group, he would always give us advice. We would follow his music and his style. That's where we basically came about, picking up the style that Conjunto Solis has nowadays.
Festiva: Are there any RGV musicians that influenced you as well?
Javier: Ruben Vela. I know we did some covers from Freddy Fender. Of course Mazz. Los Dos Gilbertos always inspired us to play conjunto. Also, Tony De La Rosa was caught between the Corpus Christi-area and the Valley. Tambien influenced us a lot.
Festiva: To people who aren't familiar with your music, how would you describe your style?
Javier: Each of us have our own style of music. Meaning each of us brothers, when we're at home, we like to listen to different music. On what we play now, it just came together throughout the years performing.
Our style would be more like the older guys, the older conjuntos. Tony (De La Rosa), Angel (Flores). Mingo Saldivar has always been a big part of Conjunto Solis. Ruben Vela, Ruben Naranjo, Los Dos Gilbertos, that's our style.
Festiva: So you take a little bit from different influences?
Javier: I do speak a lot about conjunto legends but there is quite a few norteño conjuntos that have influenced us. Like of course Los Relampagos (del Norte), Ramon Ayala y Cornelio Reyna. Los Cachorros de Juan Villarreal, Los Invasores (de Nuevo Leon), there are so many groups in Mexico that have also influenced Conjunto Solis.
Festiva: As a vocalist, what type of songs do you prefer?
Javier: We'll try whatever comes around. Every area is different. The Valley has their songs, they have their styles. Some of them prefer more cumbias and rancheras. Some areas don't even care too much for boleros and what not. So what Conjunto Solis does is we try to feel the people. We'll see what they like, we'll try a little bit of country, a little bit of oldies. We'll do some slow songs, cumbias, rancheras. We'll see what the people respond to (and go from there). That's the kind of night we're going to give them. We just try to mix it up for the people.
Festiva: Any advice for any young conjunto musicians out there?
Javier: I would have to say to any young musician coming up, whatever style of music they are playing, continue going and que no se aguiten (don't get discouraged). Pa'delante porque (Move forward because) there's always going to be people that are going to put you down. There are always going to be people that are going to envy you. It doesn't matter what people say or what any other musician might think of you, it's what you feel (that matters). Keep going and follow the dream of being a musician.
Festiva: Thank you for your time.
Javier: Thank you very much.
Who: Conjunto Solis and Conjunto Los Leones
Time: 6:00 PM
Phone Number and Website: 956-867-8783 or visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Lomita-Park/146095848797378
Location: La Lomita Park, in McAllen.