Friday, April 4, 2014
Mando Mejia of Rio Grande City, by way of Comales, Tamaulipas, will be bringing La Clica and his brand of conjunto music to Harlingen on April 13.
Mejia, 59, has gone through a variety of chapters in his 24 year journey as a musician.
In 1990, Mejia started playing guitar and keyboard for his local church. Three years later, Mejia picked up the bass guitar, and launched a Tejano band with his own children. They were known as Mejia y Compañia.
"Cuando ya crecieron mis hijos, y vimos el talento que ellos tenian de voces y instrumentos, comenzamos, (When my children grew up, and we saw what talent they had in their voices and instruments, we started [to play],)" Mejia said.
They performed together until his children moved on to different stages in their lives in the late 1990's. Mejia's interest in music picked up again when he noticed that his nephew, Jerry Mejia, was interested in the accordion.
"Se miraba que le gustaba mucho la acordeon, y le regalo una acordeoncita, y dormia con que ella abrazada, (It looked like he liked the accordion a lot, so I gave him one for a gift, and he would fall asleep hugging it,)" Mejia laughs. "El comenzo a oir mucho a Ruben Vela, y como iba creciendo, iba aprendiendo, y se aprendia todos los discos de Don Ruben. (He started listening to Ruben Vela a lot, and as he was growing, he was learning, and he was learning all of Don Ruben's albums.)"
Jerry asked his tio if they could start their own group. That's when the band that came to be known as La Clica first started to take shape. Mejia explained to me that the group's name originates from Rock N Roll James' "Eres Clica" radio shtick.
From 2006 to 2010, uncle and nephew played together until Jerry joined Ruben Vela Jr. y Sus Muchachos.
La Clica previously recorded at a home studio in Roma, and that's where Mejia first met accordionist Boy Lozano, 43.
"He asked me if I could play with him (after Jerry left)," Lozano said. "I told him, 'No, not right now, I'm not playing with anyone. Maybe later.'"
Lozano picked up the accordion when he was 10, but had stopped playing in the early 2000's. After a couple of months, Mejia called Lozano again to ask if he was interested. This time Lozano decided to take a chance with one condition.
"The only way I can get in on the group, is to include my father," Lozano said. "Because we were recording a CD with my father in my studio. I wanted to do that, to have a memory of him, that's what my idea (was). To have memories of (my father Chuy) singing."
Mejia agreed to have both Lozano men join his group in 2011.
"Very, very emotional," Lozano describing how it feels to be playing in a band with his father.
The current line-up of La Clica includes: Mejia on the bass; Boy Lozano as the accordionist and segunda voz; Chuy Lozano as primera voz; Rolando Flores on the bajo-sexto; Victor Flores on the drums; Demetrio Peña on percussion.
"Un estilo unico que tiene mi acordeonista y que no se oye igual a otros, (A unique style that my accordionist has that doesn't sound like anyone else,)" Mejia said of Lozano and La Clica's style. "Un estilo personal, bien bonito. Conjunto bien bailable. (A personal style, very pretty. Very danceable conjunto.)"
La Clica just finished recording their second album, titled El Amor De Mi Vida. Mejia received his first batch of CD's a few weeks ago, and he will be selling copies of them at upcoming gigs. A third release is something that is being planned for down the line.
"Los tardamos un poquito, porque habiamos comenzado con otro drummer (It took us a while, because we [initially] started with another drummer)," Mejia said. "Tuvimos que comenzar de nuevo otra vez. Los llevamos casi el año para completar el disco (We had to start all over again [after we got our new drummer]. It took us over a year to complete the album)."
Mejia has seen an increase in popularity in the past several years. He hopes that trend will continue as he moves forward in 2014.
"Nos a ido muy bien, (It's gone real good for us,)" Mejia said. "Es un segunda trabajo. En el ultimo año, hemos sacado doble de gigs. (It's a second job [for us]. In the past year, we've been getting double the gigs [that we used to get]."
Who: La Clica
Time: 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Cost: $2.00 per person
Phone Number: 956-423-1699
Bands Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Clica/141435539268191
Location: American Legion Post 205, in Harlingen