About Conjunto by Ramiro Burr

Very cool comments from Ramiro…

Many consider the folksy conjunto secondary to the more popular Tejano.

Those who do are missing out on a real treasure. While conjunto does not have the flash and pop of Tejano, it does work its own beautiful magic.

Top artists like Conjunto Bernal, the late Tony De La Rosa, Mingo Saldivar, Los Dos Gs and others know how to create sparks with the basic accordion and bajo sexto, bottom-heavy rhythms, direct lyrics and a heavy dose of blues power.

At its most primal, raw conjunto is driven by intense, almost tribalistic percussions and fat bass lines.
Like blues and reggae, the sheer repetition of these bottom heavy rhythms tend to entrance and hypnotize.
Fans are also captivated by the lyrics, sung with honesty, pain and conviction.

And yet despite the often sad lyrics, ironically conjunto music is often described as “happy dance music.”

Why?

Because even if you don’t know the lyrics, the dance beats are irresistible and always compel folks to the dance floor.

For those who do sing along, they relive the moments when life is intense — that first love, that terrible breakup, the pain and solitude, hopes and dreams.

Those are the unforgettable moments that make up a lifetime. Even if we lost in love, ultimately we’re happy we had an opportunity. Often we walk away a better person. And with the distance of time, that special song helps us relive that moment.

The catharsis helps us find healing and hope.

Yeah, there might be tears and old wounds may resurface. But undoubtedly, there all be also a varying sense of tension and release, redemption and absolution, clarity and understanding.

Timeless nuggets include “Mi Unico Camino,” “Preso sin delito,” “El Silencio de La Noche,” and many others.
In Mexico, there’s an old saying, “la music es la vida, y el recordar es vivir (music is life and to remember, is to live again).” It often is used to describe fiery rancheras but it also applies to conjunto.

2005 Video of Los Padrinos

Here is a video of our performance in 2005 for the Conjunto Heritage Taller fundraiser at Mission County Park in San Antonio Tx,  I was just browsing and found it on youtube!  I believe it was Bene Medina’s son who was recording us that day.  We are playing two songs “No todo es Malo” and “Concha Perdida”.  3 years ago! We were so young back then…

Fidel Perez the 5th Padrino

 

I heard the other day that Fidel Perez recorded “Compadre Chon” by Luis Gonzalez.  Fidel Perez is a local legend from Natalia and is known as “el Rey de la Polka”.  The reason I bring this up is that we also recorded “Compadre Chon” on our first CD, “Fe, Familia y Tradición”.  We recorded it as part of a medley of songs dedicated to Luis Gonzalez and we entitled it “Andale mi Luis Gonzalez”(you can hear it by visiting our website www.conjuntolospadrinos.com.  The interesting part about this is that Fidel used our version of the song for his recording!  Wow, pretty cool.  Now, the reason I know (I have yet to ask him about it) is because the melody that Fidel uses on the accordion is the one that I came up with.   No one else, that I know of, has recorded that song before us, and Luis Gonzalez’s version is different.  Pretty neat, huh? The other thing you will notice if you hear both versions is that the original has a verse that we took out, to make the song shorter. And guess what? Fidel did not include it in his version either!  That means that he heard our version, liked it, and ran with it!  I think it is pretty cool that Fidel Perez actually liked what we did enough to record it himself.  I think it is currently near the top 10 of the KEDA Top 25 list.   The curious thing is, however, that our version from 2005, never made it to the top 25.  But I guess in a way, it did now.  Thanks Fidel!

By the way the missing verse is:

El compadre se arranco, la comadre lo siguo, y al compas del acordeon una polka se avento…

¡ ajuuuuua !

Some thoughts

I am back. Vacation, holidays and stuff, know how it is.  Anyways, here are some thoughts that have coming into my head for awhile that I haven’t been able to comment on… I heard a “new” song on KEDA from the Desperadoz – actually it was a tribute to Los Dos Gilbertos, (Palabra de hombre, Vieja escalera, and a bit of Mala mujer)  I was wondering if KXTN plays this tribute – I am sure they would, since they are the Desperadoz, and not Los Dos Gilbertos.  They rarely play anything by Los Dos Gilbertos -if ever.  Now, I do not listen to KXTN since now they officially only play the same rolas from 20years ago.  “All Old Tejano, All the time!” I remember years ago they would play “Mis Canciones Favoritas” by Los Chamacos, I thought it was great that people could hear about some of our legends like Ruben Vela, Ruben Naranjo, and Tony de La Rosa.  However, now it bothers me that they never actually played Ruben Vela, Ruben Naranjo and Tony de La Rosa.  Why?  Probably because it is not considered “respectable” music, until Los Chamacos or Los Desperadoz, play it.  Don’t misunderstand, I really like the style of Los Chamacos (better with Juan P. Moreno) and Los Desperadoz.

Recently there was a contest for the best traditional Conjunto band.  Someone wrote a comment that bothered me… They said that the [winning band, which was not really very traditional in the first place] “brought conjunto to a respectable level”.  What the h***? RESPECTABLE? Why was it more respectable – because it was a bit more “Tejano” with sax and keyboards? And how can someone say that one band’s style is more respectable than others? Give me a break.  And then he said that this band was the only roots band on the list.  Who was on that list? Let’s see… Flaco Jimenez, Los Monarcas, Linda Escobar, Mingo Saldivar, Joel Guzman, Ruben Vela, Los Nobles, Los Conjunto Kings, yours trulies, etc, etc… Boy I got really mad then! That gentleman apparently did not know much about traditional Conjunto music. He needs some edjumacation, he is a fool and I spit in his general direction! And, and, and…thankfully I am over it. Thanks for reading.

¡Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!

 Today is Dec. 12th.  A big day! I got up at 5:00 this morning to go to las mañanitas to our Lady.  There were matachines from a neighboring parish with a drum, it was pretty awesome!  Of course now I am very sleepy, but it was really great to be present once again for this great event of our faith.  I got to see some of the TV from San Fernando Cathedral and Mexico – Los Palominos performed, as did a couple of mariachis and other singers.  I remember last year they had Los Huracanes del Norte and Jaime DeAnda.  I am not sure what else to write I am falling asleep…………………………….huh? Oh! hey well I will write something later. God bless you all!

No lechuga please

How come some Mexican restaurants always give you shredded lettuce and two slices of tomatoes with every meal?  That thought came to me when I ate at a Mexican restaurant and noticed they did not do that. I was very happy, because usually I do not even eat the lettuce, maybe the tomatoes, but not the lettuce. It seems like a waste of lechuga to me.  Maybe they want the dish to appear healthier than it really is: "but doctor I had a nice portion of fruits [tomato is a fruit isn't it?] and vegetables to go with my nice heaping pile of tripas or greasy pork chops rancheros!"

Just give me the main course please.

Just like our music, we don't do fancy moves, or long heavy-metal intros, or play a pre-recorded history of our group over the PA.  We just play conjunto music, plain and simple.  Our fans don't want lettuce and tomatoes, they want the carne asada! Viva conjunto! Just play the music, please!

Denial

What a shock! What a tragedy! Gloom, despair, and agony on me! My beloved Spurs were knocked out of the playoffs! I really do not like Mark Cuban, he said some nasty things about San Antonio, que tonto el buey! I feel bad for Michael Finley, man we should have beat those Mavs! What sets us apart is the professionalism, respect, and honor that our team shows all the time. Those are values that I want my kids to have, respeto y honor. Treat people right, don't be all conceited or arrogant. Respect your elders. Make life enjoyable! We had a chance to practice that when we played on stage without Juan (who was out of town) We did our best, played from our hearts and the people responded. Of course, it was not the same, but people respect that we tried and did not take ourselves too seriously (or at least most of us didn't!) Life is too short to live it without our Fe, Familia, y Tradicion! Viva los Spurs! y Viva Conjunto!