Friday, April 25, 2014


Every year on March 31 and April 16, you can be sure of one thing — your social media feed is going to be buzzing about Selena Quintanilla. As your scroll down your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, your friends are going to be posting her appearances on The Johnny Canales Show, various online memes, photographs, and many of her memorable Tejano hits. While we're 19 years removed from the terrible tragedy that took her away, the memories she brought us continue to be revered by those that witnessed her meteoric rise.

Oh Mama

When Johnny Canales had his own orchestra, he played some events with Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. and Los Dinos. So he was already familiar with the Quintanilla family, and had heard the local buzz surrounding their young, talented daughter Selena. The first time she made her appearance on The Johnny Canales Show in 1985 was also going to be the first time he met her.

The 13 year old singer already had an eye for fashion that stood out, even at that young age. She, along with her group, got white jump suits for their debut on that program. They placed the suits on the ground, got a paint brush, and proceeded to splatter the suits with permanent fluorescent paint. The loud, bright colors were meant to make an impression on viewers. Selena also picked out guitar earrings to wear for the occasion, and got a second set of wardrobe to wear later on the show that she described as "dressy".

The Quintanilla clan arrived at the KVEO TV studios in Brownsville, TX.

"'Oh Mama', aqui esta," Canales said as he introduced Selena to his large television audience.

Selena and Los Dinos started to perform and lip-sync to Ruben Armando's "Oh Mama", a song that Selena had just released in an album titled The New Girl In Town that year. The lip-syncing was done for audio-quality purposes, and every artist that made an appearance there would do the same.

"I saw a little spark in her, she had something that just certain people got," Canales said.

After they finished the song, Canales went to interview his first time guests. Canales starts talking in Spanish, asking about their paint job. Selena responded in English. Finally, Canales asks, "Y la gente que los esta escuchando en Mexico?" ("And for the people that are listening to us in Mexico?")

Selena, confused and amused, answers: "Los pintaron?"

They both had a big laugh about how she didn't know how to speak Spanish.

"She told me, 'You know what, I'm going to learn how to speak Spanish,'" Canales remembers. "Ten years later, when she was almost 23 years old, I interviewed her, in what now is called the Selena Auditorium in Corpus. Interview was totally in Spanish. That's why I think she was big, because everything she wanted to do, she would do it."

Selena would become a frequent guest on Canales' program. Another early appearance is one that Canales remembers very well.

As they were standing backstage, ready to go out to the live audience, Canales asked Selena if she was ready. She said she was. Canales asks again, adding that he's going to make it a big presentation for her. She confirms that she's ready. As Canales is walking away, he blurts out, "Just take that little peace of bean that you have between your teeth out." There was nothing actually there, it was just Canales messing around, as he often did with his guests.

Selena's eyes widened. Her tongue started working its way around her mouth and teeth. She tried to get this imaginary bean out of her mouth, as Canales got on the house microphone. "Aqui esta Selena!" roared Canales, and Selena walked on stage. She was still working towards finding this bean, when Canales finally leaned close, and told her it was just a joke.

"Nombre, si no se acaba los dientes," ("If I didn't tell her, she would have finished her teeth,") Canales said laughing. "We used to play that way."

Selena grabbing a hold of Johnny Canales' tie.

Baila conmigo 

Tejano powerhouse La Mafia had just offered Cande Aguilar Jr. a shot to perform with their group in 1988. The 15 year old gladly accepted, and looked forward to touring with the group that Summer. One of his first shows with La Mafia took place at a ballroom in his hometown of Brownsville, TX.

With his black Gabbanelli accordion strapped on, Aguilar stepped out on the stage, and began performing with Oscar De La Rosa's crew. While playing the accordion, he noticed a pair of sisters in the front row, near the stage.

After the baile was over, the two sisters came up to Aguilar and introduced themselves.

"At that time, I didn't know who she was," Aguilar said.

One sister was 20 year old Suzette Quintanilla. The other sister was 17 year old Selena Quintanilla. Both complimented Aguilar's accordion playing skills. The Aguilar and Quintanilla parents started conversing as well. From that point on, Aguilar very much knew who Selena was.

The Summer had begun, and La Mafia enlisted the services of Selena y Los Dinos to open for them during this tour. Now with the two talented teenagers on the same bill, Aguilar was finally seeing what Selena was capable of.

"Nombre, once you saw her, ya, that was it," Aguilar said. "You kind of had to keep up with her. You wouldn't forget her. Ya no se te olvidaba."

The tour took them to a dance hall in Victoria, TX. Before the show started, Selena and Aguilar were hanging out backstage. Selena started warming up, to get ready for the show that evening. She began twirling, spinning at a rapid speed, then would put her two fingers on Aguilar's shoulder to slow down her momentum. She would stop and start again. Repeating those dance moves, working towards perfecting them with Aguilar by her side.

At that time, Aguilar just thought that it was neat that she was practicing in front of him. Now looking back as an artist, more than 25 years later, it's become a cherished memory for him.

"I remember that so clearly," Aguilar said. "That was magical, it was a beautiful moment, beautiful experience to actually have her dancing literally right in front of my eyes."

It was showtime. Selena left the backstage area, heading towards the stage. The Tejano world was about to enter it's golden period.

"It was quite a moment," Aguilar reflects. "Knowing that with those moves, she conquered the world."

Selena's letter to La Mafia.
The Porsche or The Opposite of La Carcacha

At a pre-party for the 1991 installment of the Tejano Music Awards, Carlito Miranda Jr. ran into A.B. Quintanilla. He asked what Miranda was up to, and wondered if they could meet up at a later day. Quintanilla heard Miranda sing when they got together, and before he knew it, he was touring with Selena y Los Dinos.

Carlito Miranda Jr. y Grupo Metal opened for Selena y Los Dinos as they were about to take off into super-stardom. When they were on the road, the Quintanilla family allowed Miranda and his band to use the famous "Big Bertha" bus.

"They had a new bus," Miranda said. "We were pretty much like a big family. For those amount of years, I learned a lot being there."

From 1991 to 1994, Miranda was there as they made stops all over the Southwest. One event happened to be in Dallas, at a night club known as Monopoly's. While they were waiting for the show to start, a messenger came to Miranda and told him that Selena wanted to see him. He got up and went to go find Selena.

Selena started talking to him about his upcoming album.

"I want to help you on it, vocally," Selena said, according to Miranda.

"Great, whatever you can help me with," Miranda replied.

Selena started helping Miranda with his singing during that period.

"She was always willing to help," Miranda said. "She knew how close me and Chris (Perez) were. Me and Chris go way back, before the Dinos."

As they grew up in that era of Tejano music, Miranda would find himself spending a lot of time with Selena and Perez. One time at a gig, Perez had to go run an errand. Selena needed some eggs, and asked Miranda if he could go get some for her. Miranda answered, "I don't have a car". Selena, who had just bought a brand new Porsche, tossed her keys at him without hesitation. When the keys were in the air, it looked to Miranda as if they were coming to him in slow motion.

"I just thought to myself, I better not wreck this car," Miranda laughs. "Hell yeah I was nervous. I wanted to find the nearest store so I wouldn't have to drive so far."

Miranda arrived back safely, without a mark on the car or the eggs. All he could think at that point was, "Thank god." Miranda concludes that Selena lending him her car without much thought showed that, "She was that cool."

He hasn't talked about these days much since the passing of Selena, but if he catches one of her songs on the radio, it takes him back to those glory years.

"When I hear it," Miranda said, referring to Selena's music. "I can just close my eyes, and go back in that time. I can visualize and see everything the way it was."

Amor Prohibido

The work on Amor Prohibido was underway. A trumpet player was needed though. Henry Gomez told A.B. Quintanilla, "Why don't you use Rene (Gasca)?"

Quintanilla called Gasca, who was living in Houston at the time, after a stint in California. Quintanilla talked about how they needed a trumpet player to record a few songs — "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", "El Chico Del Apartamento 512" and "Fotos y Recuerdos". Gasca agreed. After getting ready, he hopped into his car and drove from Houston to San Antonio, where Manny Guerra's recording studio was located.

"It felt great that he had called me," Gasca said, about how he felt when Quintanilla offered him this job.

Gasca had met Selena before, when he played for La Mafia years earlier. However this was when he first really got to spend time with her. It was a great experience for Gasca, who describes Selena as being a very fun person to collaborate with.

"She would come to the studio, always really happy," Gasca said. "Always laughing and joking around. She was pretty nice. I always remember her being real down to Earth."

Gasca told Selena something Kiko Cibrian, Luis Miguel's music director at the time, told him. Gasca informed her that Cibrian wanted her to know that he was a big fan of her music.

"She was really happy," Gasca said. "That someone like that was her fan. You always feel good when another musician, somebody that's important likes your music."

Months after they recorded, Selena was playing in Laredo, TX. Gasca was there too, so they all decided to meet up for a hang out session. After a while, Selena and Suzette approached Gasca with a question.

"Can we borrow your car?" asked Selena, according to Gasca.

Gasca didn't mind at all and gladly allowed the sisters to use his vehicle.

"I think they were going to Pollo Loco," Gasca remembers. "They became my friends."

What was just one phone call became much more for Gasca as the years passed by. He established new friendships, and become a part of one of Selena's most treasured albums.

"I'm very glad I was able to record with her," Gasca said. "At that time, when I recorded Amor Prohibido, I didn't know it was going to be such a big hit."

Dreaming Of You (Literally)

As one of the hosts of Puro Tejano, Mando San Roman found himself right in the middle of the Tejano whirlwind in the 1990's. He would often be in attendance for most of the top shows in the Valley. There is one event in particular that stands out for him.

Selena was scheduled to perform in front of a packed house in Harlingen. As she sat in the backstage area, people in her close circle debated whether she should even be there. She was very ill, and struggled when she tried to talk. They asked her, what she wanted to do.

"I have to go up there and sing," was Selena's response, according to San Roman.

Her entourage was hesitant but they allowed her to go out on stage with one condition. They advised her to go immediately to her bus after her performance was over.

"You know what, she got up there, she sang her lungs out, dancing como si nada," San Roman said. "She gets off stage, and instead of going to the bus, she started going down the line, along the fence, shaking everybody's hand."

Her associates got near her, asking her to please go back to her bus.

"No, no, I need to go say hi to my fans," Selena answered back.

Some time later, San Roman was set to do an interview with Selena. The night before, the local radio DJ and TV show host had a vivid dream about Selena. In this romantic vision, there was a strong mutual attraction between San Roman and Selena.

"I got nervous, pos she is pretty," San Roman said laughing. "I had never seen her like that, I always looked at her as a friend."

San Roman was waiting at the KIWW FM 96.1 studio and couldn't get this dream out of his head. After a sound check at La Villa Real, James Echavarria drove Selena over to the studio in a car without air-condition.

"Vinieron todos sudados," ("They arrived all sweaty,") San Roman said. "She was cool with it."

San Roman wasn't himself as he conducted the interview. He had never had difficulty before when interviewing Selena. As he completed the interview, he felt comfortable enough with Selena, that he told her why he was acting odd.

"Oh my god, I can't believe that," Selena laughed, after hearing what he said.

"I know, pretty freaky," San Roman said, laughing.

Later that night, the two met up again on stage at La Villa Real. San Roman and Echavarria presented her with an award that honored her record sales and contributions to Tejano music.

"She touched so many lives," San Roman said. "That was the last time I saw her."

Mando San Roman, James Echavarria and Selena.

Katie Lee Ledezma

Katie Lee Ledezma singing. 
Katie Lee Ledezma has found herself in a unique position here in the Valley. While she grew up listening to all types of music, she is now one of the youngest professional singers who is flying the conjunto flag in the South Texas area. She is representing conjunto every time she goes to a local venue, and sings her heartfelt renditions of "El Columpio", "Ojitos Verdes", "Ya Te Vi" and "Cuatro Caminos".

Growing up in Brownsville, she usually ended up at conjunto dances where her dad was singing. She credits him, who has the nickname "El Borrado" because of his green eyes, for teaching her how to sing.

At the age of seven, she performed publicly for the first time. She went up to the stage and sang a cumbia for an anniversary party in Houston. About four years ago was when she really started to make progress in the local scene. It began when her mother entered her into a talent contest in Mission.

"I was kind of nervous," Ledezma, 20, said. "I won first place. So I was like, 'Okay, I want to stick with this.'"

While she has her own conjunto now, she has played as a guest with other artists as well. Over the past few years, she's performed with Gilberto Perez, Los Dos Gilbertos, Los Garcia Brothers and The Hometown Boys. Next month she is scheduled to be a part of a big event celebrating the anniversary of Los Dos Gilbertos at the Riderz Bar & Grill in Elsa. Collaborating with these established musicians has been a great learning experience for her.

"They teach me a lot of stuff," Ledezma said. "I become really good friends with them. Little by little I get to learn new things from them. I get to know more of their background."

While she's been influenced by several artists, she is quick to point out that her dad is still her main influence and inspiration.

She has received attention outside of the Valley as well. Most recently she visited San Antonio for a National Puro Conjunto Music Association fundraiser.

"It's fun," Ledezma said. "I like to travel, I like to meet new people and new faces."

This Summer will mark her second appearance at the South Texas Conjunto Association "Conjunto Of the Year" Awards ceremony.

"Last year it was really fun," Ledezma said. "I have a lot of people that support my music, like (STCA President) Lupe Saenz, Polo Trejo and (Arturo) Balderrama."

One of her career highlights has been being recognized at local stores from the KMBH-TV broadcast of that award show.

At this point in time, she stands out as one of the youngest singers in the local conjunto circuit. She makes it clear that she hopes that conjunto never dies out. When asked how she would describe conjunto to people her own age who aren't familiar with it, Ledezma replied by saying she he doesn't understand how some of her peers prefer banda music. She described conjunto as being like a party. That it makes people want to get up and dance the night away.

"That's what conjunto is about," Ledezma said. "Conjunto is more about having a good time. It's actually the music they want at quinceañeras and weddings. So I think (young people) should be more interested in this kind of music cause it's more original."

Friday, April 18, 2014

What is Michael Salgado Up To?

Michael Salgado celebrating his birthday.
Michael Salgado recently stopped by the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month, on April 4. He performed at Frontera Vivo Bar in McAllen that evening.

"It was good," Salgado said about his experience that night. "We had a lot of people come out, a lot of loyal fans."

He shared the news of his 43rd birthday on April 5 by posting a photo for the 134,648 fans that like his official Facebook profile. He stresses that it's very important for him to have a social media presence.

"Come by and like my fan page," Salgado said, noting he's also on Twitter and Instagram. "(With this) you're able to stay in contact with the fans, on a day to day basis. You let them know what you're doing, what you're eating, what time you woke up."

Via these platforms, Salgado feels that he is able to maintain a connection with fans all around the world.

Salgado's dad, Ernesto Salgado, enjoyed listening to Los Relámpagos del Norte and that's how the kid from Big Spring, TX first got exposed to a style that would influence him to this day.

"I really liked the style," Salgado said of the Ramon Ayala and Cornelio Reyna duo. "The way he played the accordion, the voices, everything. It's just a style of music that I really enjoyed listening to."

Traces of that style can be heard in his latest single titled "Nada Es Eterno".

Salgado said that by the time he was 9, he was already singing with his father, who had his own conjunto. He started to play the accordion a few years later.

A large percentage of Tejano, conjunto, and norteño accordionists use the three row, button diatonic accordion. There are a few that differ from that norm. Salgado is one of those anomalies. He has stuck with the piano accordion throughout his career.

"My dad used to play the piano accordion, so that's what was there at home," Salgado said."I learned it, and that's the instrument that I just stayed with. I picked up a couple of times, here and there, the button accordion, but I got used to the piano accordion."

Other notable piano accordion players in these genres include Bruno Villareal, Agapito Zuniga and Herbie Lopez.

Salgado notes that he was self-taught. He is left handed thus he plays the accordion in a manner that appears 'upside down'. To his loyal fanbase, he's come to be known as "El Zurdo de Oro" ("The Golden Leftie").

"It took a while," Salgado remembers. "Back then, when I was younger, I had a good ear for music. So I would listen to what Ramon Ayala was playing on the accordion, so I would try to learn it."

He has never forgotten the big role that Ayala and Reyna's music have played in his career. In 2012, he released Homenaje a Mis Idolos (2012) to pay tribute to both his idols.

Salgado recorded two CD's before he really broke out from the pack. A cousin of his brought the song "Cruz De Madera" to his attention. The tune had previously been recorded by Ruben Ramos, as well as other artists. His cousin suggested that he cover it his own style.

He started working on the song, and began to play it at local bars. When he would return back to those bars, the patrons there would start requesting the song. That was an early sign of the success that was to come for Salgado.

"I recorded it, that's pretty much when it became a mega hit," Salgado said. "It established my name in the music business."

Since then he's recorded, what he estimates to be, about 25 to 30 CD's. To people in the Valley, one of his most famous collaborations was with Elida Reyna in 2008.

Salgado remembers meeting her at a club in Houston, and being impressed with her talent.

"I always liked her music, she's got a great voice," Salgado said. "Later on, as time passed, we became friends. Once I was with Freddie (Records), they talked about us doing something together. We did 'Quedemos Como Amigos'."

The dramatic song currently has more than 900,000 views on YouTube. Salgado and Reyna were asked to perform this duet at the 2009 Latino Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. Salgado considers it one of his career highlights.

"It was a great experience," Salgado said. "We're hoping to do something again in the future. I really like her music, and I admire her as an artist as well."

Looking back at his career, Salgado has dabbled with country music, and has been labeled as both a Tejano and norteño musician. He doesn't think one specific label really defines what he does.

"I just view myself as an artist who is versatile and likes to try new things," Salgado said about his career in music.

This past February, Salgado released his latest CD —  Nada Es Eterno. He describes it as being original and having a variety of flavors. This album marks the fourth release on his own Zurdo Records label. The 11-track collection feature a bonus country song, as well as the debut of Salgado's son, Andy Salgado.

"Hopefully I'll do more projects with my son," Salgado said. "He was very happy, excited, he's ready to record the next album."

Nada Es Eterno is available at select music stores, and online outlets like

To those that missed him earlier this month, Salgado assures his fans in the Valley that he'll be back very soon. While no official date has been publicly announced, Salgado said that he plans to be back here in July.

"I've been coming out (to the Valley) for nearly twenty years," Salgado said."Looking forward to working a lot more years out there in the Valley."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

WWE Hidalgo House Show Report (4/12/14)

They show an Ultimate Warrior video before the show begins. Then they show a funny Damien Sandow video, where he demands to be treated with the right response when he wrestles later tonight.

Big E. vs Jack Swagger - Zeb Colter did a funny promo where he confused Hidalgo with El Paso, which is 700 miles away. Then he said we were just northern Mexico, and asked if any of us even speak English. He said he would talk Spanish to us since that's all we knew. He said a few basic phrases, and also, "Yo tengo un gato negro con pantalones" ("I have a black cat with pants"), which made everyone laugh. E. came out to loud chants. After E. does the corner spot with the ten punches, Swagger takes over by picking him up and slamming him. Swagger works him over with a abdominal stretch, which is helped by Colter sneaking his hand to Swagger's hand to give him leverage. E. hip tosses Swagger, and gives him a back body drop over the top rope to transition back into offense. After E. hit his running splash, Swagger catches him in an ankle lock. E. escapes, tries Big Ending, but Swagger escapes and hits a gut wrench power bomb. Referee counts to three, awards Swagger the match but E. had his foot on the rope. Brad Maddox comes out, restarts the match. Swagger tries to hit the Vader Bomb, but E. bounces back up and catches Swagger in mid-air to hit the Big Ending for the finish. Very good match.

Darren Young vs Fandango - Young came out to a NO H8 hoodie. At about two minutes, Young jumped off the apron, looking like he was trying to hit a double axe-handle (or something along those lines) on Fandango. He went down, clutching his leg. The referee briefly conversed with him. The referee did his "X" signal, and counted him out. It was very awkward live, and went only about two minutes.

Nattie Neidhart vs Alicia Fox - They had a poll where the fans could decide via text and Twitter whether this would be a dance off, or an actual wrestling match. 52% voted for the match, while 48% voted for the dance off. Short match. Fox got heat working a headlock. Neidhart came back and won with the sharpshooter. Neidhart interacted with the fans afterwards, and the crowd liked her a lot.

Big Show vs Damien Sandow - Sandow did his entrance twice, cause he didn't like how loudly the fans were booing him. It got him even more heat the second time around. He threw out an open challenge, and said how his goal was to go undefeated now in this post-WM season. Brad Maddox came out, and introduced his opponent -- the Big Show. Crowd gave Show one of the loudest reactions on this card. Sandow tried to shake hands with Show, but Show just gave him an overhand slap. Show started sitting on Sandow's face in the corner, and doing his version of a stink face. Show did his quiet down the audience, and slap the chest spot. After a handful of those slaps, Sandow poked Show in the eye and got on the offense. It was short lived as Show got back in control and chokeslammed him for the win. Crowd ate up all of Show's shtick.

The Usos vs The Rhodes Brothers vs Rybaxel - Usos got a huge pop coming out. First part of the match was Goldust and the Usos working fast pace sequences. Ryback blind tagged in, and pulled Goldust out of the ring, to work him over. They get heat on Goldust, and they start working these fantastic hope spots, as he searches for the tag. They really milked it for all it's worth. He comes close to tagging Cody on a few occasions but gets cut off. He finally manages to toss out Ryback out of the ring, and is about to tag the Usos in, but Ryback and Axel pull the Usos off the apron. Crowd pops big when Goldust finally tags Cody. Cody starts making a huge comeback, hits the moonsault for a nearfall. While doing the disaster kick, one of the Usos slaps Cody in the back to tag in. This leads to a great dive train -- Goldust hits a running somersault off the apron, Cody does a plancha off the top, and one of the Usos does a running dive over the top rope. The Usos then hit a superkick-big splash combination on Ryback to win the match. People would have liked this match a lot if it was on TV or PPV. Really good match. People cheer the Usos a lot afterwards, but also give Goldust a nice reception as well.


Sheamus vs Titus O'Neil - Titus gets a lot of heat blowing his whistle. He says he got instructions from the back to talk very slow because they told him half the audience is uneducated, and the other half can't speak English. Crowd is booing loudly, and then pop big when Sheamus comes out. Early on, O'Neil gets his whistle, goes to the outside to ask for a time out. Match is really physical, the hardest hitting match of the night. You could loudly hear a good amount of the forearms and slaps thrown by both guys. O'Neil has some great power spots. At one point he gives Sheamus a huge fallaway slam that looked really impressive. Another great spot was O'Neil catching Sheamus in mid-air, after Sheamus attempted a flying cross body block off the ropes. O'Neil had hit two Stinger Splash's, but Sheamus finally countered on the third attempt. Sheamus does a running knee into O'Neil in the corner, a flying shoulder block off the top rope, and the forearm clubs while tied on the ropes spot. He pounds his chest and hits the Brogue Kick for the finish. Both guys worked really hard, and produced a good, strong match.

Antonio Cesaro vs Dolph Ziggler - Cesaro had his old music. Match opens up quickly to a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Cesaro. He got in control for a little bit before Ziggler came back, and they started working nearfalls. They both started doing all their signature spots, like the famouser, x-factor off the top rope, the big, the big European uppercut spot, superkick, jumping DDT from Ziggler, the superplex off the apron, etc. The finishing run was worked good, but I was surprised at how quickly they rushed to that part of the match. It felt like the opening part of the match was missing. But the crowd responded positively to the match. Match ended after Cesaro moved out of a Stinger's Splash, which caused Ziggler to go face first into the corner. Cesaro hit the giant swing, then hit neutralizer for the finish.

John Cena and The Shield vs The Wyatts and Kane - All eight of these guys were treated like huge stars by the audience, but Cena was a level above. Always funny seeing how badly he gets booed on TV and PPV, but every single time he works here in Hidalgo, he gets some of the loudest cheers I've ever heard, in any sport or entertainment. Really good match. Rollins started off with some quick pace offense, including a tope, before he got cut off and started being worked over by the heels. After a while, he finally makes a hot tag to Reigns, who starts to clean house. He hits his apron kick spot, then tags in Ambrose. He goes on the offense briefly before he gets caught coming off the top rope by Kane. The heels take over again. After a good segment where he gets worked over, Ambrose makes the tag to Cena a little bit after he hits Nigel McGuinness' rebound lariat. Cena's pop is monstrous. Crowd is going nuts when Cena does a double five knuckle shuffle on Kane and Rowan. Everyone starts hitting their signature moves at this point. It's laid out really well, and a lot of these guys get their little moments, before Reigns hits the Superman punch on Rowan, who stumbles into Cena's Attitude Adjustment for the finish. Crowd was molten hot for most of the match, and I think if it was on TV, fans would have been raving about it. It was a really good match that came off even better because of the crowd.

Overall, an excellent show. Big E.-Swagger, The Usos-Rhodes Brothers-Rybaxel, Sheamus-O'Neil, and Cena & The Shield-The Wyatts & Kane were really good matches. In no particular order, those were the four best matches of the night.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Round-up: April 2014

There's a lot of recent news to share in the world of regional music. This week we will be doing a few follow-ups to past stories I've written, as well as sharing news and information about upcoming events.

--The 2014 search for future "Big Squeeze" champions has reached its conclusion. After making eight stops all across the state of Texas with their talent showcase events, and after viewing all the video entries submitted, we're finally going to learn who is advancing to the next level of this statewide competition. The nine finalist will be announced today, on April 11 at 5:00 PM, through the following online platforms — and The next stage of this contest will be held at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, TX on April 26, 2014. The nine accordionists will compete that afternoon, with three of them being crowned "Big Squeeze" champions in the following categories — Polka (German, Czech and Polish music), Zydeco (Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music) and Conjunto (Norteño, Tejano and Conjunto music).

--I recently wrote about Weslaco's Texas Sweethearts. Well, accordionist Elisa De Hoyos is holding a raffle to help fund the group's trip to the 33rd annual Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio. The tickets are going for $5.00 each, and the top prize is a pair of boots from Rios of Mercedes. The runner-up prize is a Mary Kay gift basket valued at $100. Tickets are still available, and the winner will be announced on the evening of April 12, 2014 at Larry's Blue Bar in Mercedes, TX.  One does not need to be present to walk away with a prize. People interested in tickets can visit

--South Texas Conjunto Association (STCA) is looking for nominations and award suggestions for their 16th annual "Conjunto of the Year" awards ceremony. The event is scheduled to take place on July 13, 2014. STCA will honor the best in the past year in conjunto music with awards such as best album, best accordionist, best vocalist and more. In 2013, The Hometown Boys walked away with the "Conjunto of the Year" award. After all the nominations are tallied, the official ballot will be released on May 31, 2014. Interested parties can place their nominations or suggestions at For more information, please email Lupe Saenz at

--Last year I talked to accordion virtuoso Joel Guzman, who was raised in Sunnyside, Washington, but has ties to the Valley through his parents. One of the topics we broached was an idea he was discussing with Hohner Accordions. Guzman explained to me how he envisioned a three-row box that featured a 40-bass section. Guzman has been a strong proponent of using the bass-side of the accordion, something that you don't often see in Tejano, norteño and conjunto music. He told me that he pushes students to play the bass side so that they could be able to perform on the same level as European players. It's been a year since I've talked to him, but Guzman and Hohner Accordions recently announced a new Hohner Anacleto model that includes the 40-bass section that we previously discussed. The accordion looks stunning. To those interested in checking it out, visit

Friday, April 4, 2014

La Clica

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
Date: 4/13
Cost: $2.00 per person
Phone Number: 956-423-1699
Bands Facebook:
Location: American Legion Post 205, in Harlingen