Music And Film

August 19, 2011
 

Reuben Garza’s Journey with Tejano Music

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Written by: Nydia O
Reuben Garza

Reuben Garza is no stranger to awards ceremonies, he has been inducted to the Hall of Fame of Conjunto Music in Alice, Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Texas, and he was also a Latin Grammy nominee for best Bajo Sexto player. The Bajo Sexto is a twelve string bass guitar.

I sat with him on Wednesday August 18, 2011 at his Barber shop located on 319 North First Street in Harlingen, Texas, where Reuben, looking like a true dandy Conjunto player, agreed to this interview.

Nydia Tapia-Gonzales: Reuben, I hear you are going to be inducted into the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum of San Benito, Texas, how long have you been playing Conjunto Tejano, music?

Reuben Garza: I have been playing the “Bajo Sexto” and singing since I was 16 years old, a total of 45 years. I played with Ruben Vela from 1968 to 1976, then I joined Los Dos Gilbertos until 1987 when I went back to playing with Ruben Vela.  Then again in 1993 rejoined Los Dos Gilbertos where I’ve been until this day.

NTG: I hear you just formed a new band, what is the name of this band?

RG: The name is Reuben Garza y su Conjunto, my new band members are Hector Gonzalez who plays the accordion, bassist Johnny Cruz and drummer Artemio Lopez from Houston, Texas. We have already recorded our first CD with Hacienda Records of Corpus Christi, it will be released this coming September.

NTG: I recently interviewed Lupe Saenz about the challenges for Conjunto Tejano music, what is your opinion on this matter?

RG: The Regional Conjunto  music began here with people who were migrating from Mexico in the 30’s 40’s and even 50’s, they brought their music style but their children wanted to create their own style, they did not want to play what their elders played, so they came up with an original style for the Rio Grande Valley.  People like Narciso Martinez and Tony De La Rosa are among other pioneers of our regional music.

NTG: Selena’s music was Tejano, but the sound is different, isn’t it?

RG: The Tejano style music is composed with keyboards, and brass instruments in addition to timbales and drums, it has lots of sound.

NTG: I also hear you are a great barber, how do you juggle both professions?

RG: One time, Perry Como said to me ‘don’t leave your barber profession, find a way to work it, this is how you communicate with people, this is how you share your passion for music’.

NTG: Where did you meet Perry Como?

RG: Back when I was living in Indio, California playing with Ruben Vela, I would also work at a local barber shop where I shampooed his hair, they would let me do small things like that.   It was there, that in 1975, I met Pedro Ayala and recorded an album with Los Estrellas; Pedro y Ruben Ayala but it didn’t work out.

NTG: How many albums have you recorded in your life?

RG: I believe I have recorded about 50 albums; I’m the only musician that has never stopped playing unless it was due to reorganizing or arranging new music.  Just like with barbering, I started in 1971 and haven’t stopped since.  I am very excited about Reuben y Su Conjunto’s first album, if people like it, I want to record a second one with trumpets and accordion, I want to create a mix with mariachi music.

NTG:  Do you believe local radio stations should support Regional Tejano music more?

RG: Things have changed a lot since the 60’s when a band would approach the radio DJ to ask him to play their music. Today, it is much better for local musicians to work with a reputable record label. It is important to produce and record high quality music, never expect that just because you are the regional musician you should get special consideration.

Radio stations have their own rules and regulations; they prefer to deal directly with the label company. Label companies promote your music to radio stations but most importantly, when you record your music with these companies, your music will come out very clearly, with infinity and polish, it will be professional.  ‘Nobody is discriminating you; they just want to hear something nice’, Reuben concluded.

NTG: I thank you and wish you the best, congratulations on your induction and may God allow you to continue promoting the music of the Rio Grande Valley.

Enjoy the link posted on YouTube by Tejano 107.5 of Los Dos Gilbertos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DZJL460G3g

 

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About the Author

Nydia O
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I write about the food, the culture, the good times and the bad. I write about the people who make El Valle festive and laid back at the same time. Contributions and comments are always welcome .



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