I've been reading interviews with some of the original generation conjunto musicians (conducted by Kay Francine Council in 1978) as I prepare to write an encyclopedia entry, and I've definitely learned some memorable things.

One of them is that when Tony de la Rosa started playing, his father (a professional musician) whipped him because he didn't want any of the kids to be musicians. It didn't work. Another interesting factoid is that when de la Rosa started playing professionally in a vaudeville show in Kingsville, he did so in blackface.

I wish she had asked some more questions about that! But she let this incredible fact slide right by.

Tony de la Rosa's description of his approach to playing the accordion is something else. He says he got his whole beat from Country and Western music, especially a fiddler named J.B. Burris. De la Rosa played in country bands for quite a while.

Here is de la Rosa describing his playing.


"I'm mad all the time. I'm mad at myself when I pick up that accordion because I should be playing it better. When I play at a dance, my teeth and gums tighten up. I've got a feeling for a song. I've spent ten hours recording one song. You start choking inside..."


And

"It brings out the animalistic...I'm throwing it out, like a knife at the audience. It could turn into a total brawl at a dance. It's like making love."


Here is some footage of him opining some, and playing some incredible music of course, throwing a knife.



The other great line from these interviews is from Hugh Gonzalez, a bajo sexto player. The transcript has the interviewer interjecting a question and then this repsoinse so even though the typing makes it seems like this is her speaking it is surely Gonzalez. Anyway, after extolling Macias bajo sextos as the best, he disdains mexican made instruments with this abstract line: "The Mexican bajo sounds like a lady walking down the street with a bucket of water."

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