Friday, May 23, 2014

Los Layton Return in 2014‏




The legacy of the legendary Los Layton group had been riding strong for more than 50 years. By 2011, the musical clan from Elsa was headed by the brother-sister duo of Benny Layton Sr. and Norfy Layton Gonzalez.

"My other two brothers had already retired," Norfy said. "But we decided to keep the band going."

Los Layton were still an in-demand conjunto. The year prior they had performed at the annual Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio. In the Valley, they had a steady stream of gigs that kept them busy on the weekends.

Tragically that all changed on March 26, 2011, when the world found out that the beloved Benny Layton Sr. had passed away.

"It's irreparable, you really never get over it," Norfy said. "You stand beside this one person, for fifty years, and then all of a sudden he's removed."

Paul Layton, Benny's son, was also a part of Los Layton at the time. He lost the drive to keep the ensemble going after the unexpected passing of his father.

"We stopped after the death of my dad," Paul said. "We had a couple of private gigs after his passing, then after that, we just put everything hold. Because it was too much to bear, as a family."

Several years had passed since the traumatizing experience they went through in 2011. Then on November of 2013, the Layton family was celebrating Thanksgiving and watching a football game. That's when Norfy first came up to Paul about starting the band again. According to Norfy, Paul wasn't sure at first.

"I'm very persistent," Norfy said.

The past had been on Norfy's mind, and she hoped that she could use Los Layton name to help establish the new generation of talented Layton family members. Norfy decided to go online to show Paul and her family how serious she was.

"I'm going to post on Facebook, I'm going to put some pressure on him and everyone else," Norfy said laughing.

She went on Facebook in January and posted the following on her profile: "Ok...time is up. I have decided to take the lead. Bringing Los Layton back. Look forward to being back on stage. Will be holding auditions in a couple of weeks."

The support started pouring in from family members and fans. The status quickly got a hundred likes. Norfy took charge and was moving forward with the new entourage.

"I took them by the reigns and said let's go," Norfy said. "So we sat down, and before we knew it, we started practicing in late January."

Once they were all together again, Paul felt that this was going to be a special year for the family.

"We decided 2014 was going to be our comeback year," Paul said. "We are going to go as long as we can go."

The group that got together includes several generations of Layton family members, as well as friends of the family: Norfy on vocals; Paul on drums and vocals; Norfy's grandson Oscar Gomez on accordion; Bobby Layton on guitar; Jimmy Cano on bass; Gabriel Cabrera on saxaphone; and Benny Layton Jr. as the booking agent.

Their return took place at Borderfest in Hidalgo on March. With it being near three years to the death of Benny Sr., it was an emotional experience for those involved.

"It was difficult, my first songs were very hard," Norfy said. "It was something that needed to get done (though)."

It was a moving day for Paul as well. He feels that his father was there in spirit.

"It's an indescribable feeling," Paul said. "It just feels overwhelming to see that the fans haven't forgot about the Laytons."

Since then, Los Layton have had two CD release parties in Mission and Elsa. Paul describes it as a special edition CD since it includes photos of the family, throughout the decades. It's a glimpse through their rich, musical history.

"That's why it's so special," Paul said of the new Amor Mio album. "So people can reminiscence."

The 10-track release had been in the vaults for three years. Norfy felt now was the right time to finally release it to the world.

"It was a project that (Benny Layton Sr.) had left pending," Norfy said "I felt that would kind of add closure to that chapter of Los Layton and we'd be ready to open up a new chapter with Los Layton, the next generation."

Fans interested in obtaining a copy can do so by getting in contact with the groups Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LosLaytonRBack/.

Details of upcoming gigs will also be updated on that page. One scheduled appearance that is already confirmed takes place at the 23rd Annual Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Conjunto Festival on October 26 of this year.

Now that Norfy is back on the stage, with her family and close friends, she feels right at home. It's been a long, tough journey but she feels blessed to be where she is at in 2014.

"It filled my void," Norfy said. "This is where I belong. This is what I needed in my life, to make me who I am, complete again."

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