VALLEY COUNTRY: The Country Roland Band - The Monitor: Entertainment

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VALLEY COUNTRY: The Country Roland Band

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Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008 12:00 am

Living legend Roland Garcia, or as he's better known, Country Roland, has been drawing crowds for his brand of country music since the early 1940s, when he moved to the Rio Grande Valley. The Country Roland Band, including his children and grandchildren, have been performing together since the early 1970s.

As a boy, Garcia would spend his time listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio, where he was introduced to country greats such as Johnny Horton, Ray Price and Lefty Frizzel.

When Garcia made country music his full-time job and career, he would pack them in at venues such as Villa Real and honky tonks throughout the state and beyond.

Garcia is known for taking beloved country hits such as Ernest Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You" and translating it into Spanish. He has received many accolades for his interpretations of several songs, including "Hace Un Ano" in 1976.

True to his country roots, Garcia always looks the part.

"I don't even remember my dad without a cowboy hat," said daughter Aurora "Gore" Hernandez, who sings harmony with her father.

Early in his career, Garcia would be faced with a show to put on without the musicians to play the instruments. That's when he decided to include family members in his band. Now that it's a family affair, there's more accountability and Garcia is able to stay close to his loved ones.

Also, keeping music in the family assures that the Country Roland name will live on for generations to come.

Since: Early ‘70s

Hometown: Falfurrias

Where do you live now: Mission

Upcoming show: Saturday, Nov. 15 at 10 p.m. at Texas Saloon in Premont / Falfurrias; $10

Influences: Merle Haggard, Vern Gosden, Ernest Tubb, Porter Wagner, Faron Young

Who's in the band and what's their role:

Roland Garcia, 76 - Lead vocals

Aurora "Gore" Hernandez, 53 - Harmony vocals

Judy Rodriguez, 51 - Peavey T40 Bass

Wendy "Sunshine" Quintanilla, 49 - Rhythm guitar on her Ovation

Rene Gonzalez, Jr., 30 - Yamaha Keyboard

Robert James Gonzalez, 24 - Lead guitar

Matthew Cody Gonzalez, 20 - Drums

Ruby Ann Martinez, 45 - Fiddle

Check out this song by The Country Roland Band: "It's Your World" - 38 MySpace plays - When you think of a classic country heartbreak song, the voice has to drip with sadness and a twang. This song has both, plus what I imagine as the tinkling of a saloon piano.

COUNTRY CRED: 4.5 out of 5 cowboy hats

Favorite gospel song? "I Saw the Light" by Hank Williams

What brand of jeans do you wear? Wranglers

Do you wear cowboy boots? Always on.

A cowboy hat? Always on.

How thick is their accent? Not much of an accent there.

Do you have a pre-show routine? As he's getting on stage, before he performs, he says, "En el nombre de Dios sea," ("In the name of Jesus.") quietly to himself.

Favorite beer? Not a drinker.

How does a Valley crowd differ from a regular country crowd? "It's a younger crowd now. I still get my older ones, but two weeks ago we played in Hebbronville and they were very appreciative."

As a country band/musician, how do you relate to Tejano music? Garcia says he originated what was known as "Chicano Country" music, and what is now considered Tejano.

How did you get into country music? "We were in Michigan, I was about 8 or 10 years old, and one day my stepfather went to a honky tonk for a beer, and I went with him. There was this guy on stage with his guitar, playing by himself. "Have You Ever Been Lonely" was requested, but the guy didn't know the song. He asked if anyone in the bar knew it. And my stepfather raised his hand and said, "Yeah, my boy knows it." Every night from 7 to 8 on the radio I'd listen, they called it hillbilly music and bluegrass. So the guy came and got me and said, "Get up there." Sure enough, I did it, and it sounded so good to me, you know. And back then I started to think about what I should do and the good Lord helped me to do what I set out to do."

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