On this weeks Regional Ramblings, I will recommend three under-the-radar albums that one can stream right now for free on Spotify. There are some gems on here that I think are really worth going out of your way to listen to.
Borders y Bailes by Los Texmaniacs - In 2009, Los Texmaniacs of Max Baca released their first album with the Smithsonian Folkways label, and it's a great taste of what this group is capable of. At the time David Farias, of La Tropa F, was the accordionist for the group and does a great job lending his sharp style of accordion playing to this ensemble. We get a little bit of everything here, as far as conjunto goes, like polkas, cumbias, a redova, rancheras, boleros, danzón, a huapango, and even an old fashion schottische (aka chotiz or chotis). Baca's style of bajo-sexto playing is such a treasure to listen to, and it's the backbone of all these songs on here. Check out how he shreds the bajo-sexto on the title track "Huapango". It's amazing the level of control that Baca has over the bajo-sexto. This modern take on traditional music release won "Best Tejano Album" at the 2009 Grammy Awards.
They All Played For Us: Arhoolie Records 50th Anniversary Celebration - In 2011, roots music label Arhoolie Records celebrated their 50th anniversary with concerts that included Los Cenzontles, Santiago Jimenez Jr. y la familia Peña-Govea, Ry Cooder, Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, and several other bands that included various types of musical genres. For the two-row, diatonic button accordionist Jimenez, he played two classics — "Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio" and "Viva Seguin". Both are exciting and spirited performances of the songs, by Jimenez and crew. Los Cenzontles perform "Voy Caminando", "El Chuchumbe", "México Americano", "Prenda del Alma", "Arizona, Estado de Verguenza", and "Puño de Tierra". This California group plays this really whimsical string style of music that is both socially conscious and great to listen to. That's only two different groups, the rest of this four disc compilation is a great treat for roots music lovers.
La Conocí en La Pulga (I Met Her at the Flea Market) by Los Dos Gilbertos - Also from 2009, this release from the legendary conjunto based out of Edinburg might have my favorite Rio Grande Valley album title of all time. One of the tracks on here is a nice tribute to the late Cornelio Reyna. It's titled "Recordando a Cornelio" and it's a nice potpourri of the legendary norteño musician's repertoire. Of course the main draw on here is the title track "La Conocí en La Pulga", which is a catchy cumbia about a man who met his love at the pulga. A romantic cumbia about going to the pulga every Sunday is one of the most Valley-things ever and I absolutely love this silly song.