BY EDUARDO MARTINEZ
This last week of May, we are going to take a look at four gems you can find on YouTube.
>> Paul Simon on Austin City Limits, “That Was Your Mother (Zydeco)”
I’ve been saying for years: I think Joel Guzman is the most versatile accordionist in the world. Love how he’ll just randomly pop up on YouTube videos, with all types of musicians, and just do a great job on the accordion. Guzman, whose dad is from San Juan, Texas, and mom is from Edinburg, was born in Sunnyside, Washington. He was influenced by Oscar Hernandez, Paulino Bernal, Narciso Martinez, Tony de la Rosa, Valerio Longoria and many of the other great accordionists. Guzman told me a story once about how when he was a kid, Conjunto Bernal was in town, so he went to go meet Hernandez for accordion lessons. Hernandez recommended Angelo Dipippo, a French accordion player, and told him to learn “Flight of the Bumblebee.” That was his first exposure to non-conjunto accordion music. As the years have gone by, Guzman has always been challenging himself, playing not just conjunto but all sorts of different styles. Was happy to see him appear on Austin City Limits with Paul Simon, playing zydeco on a Hohner Anacleto accordion. Just another great example of how he can blend in with so many styles out there.
>> “South Texan conjunto music at the festival in San Benito Texas”
Awesome video of conjunto in San Benito, or as Ruben Vela would say ‘San Buenito,’ in the late 1990s, focusing on the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Conjunto Festival. Some glimpses of Los Laytons, Valerio Longoria, and a really young Juanito Castillo, currently with Rio Jordan. Love this video. Wish we had more professionally shot footage of Valley conjunto music available. This was shot by the Smithsonian Institute in 1999.
>> Paulino Bernal, “Idalia”
Paulino Bernal went from teenage Tejano-conjunto star recording for Ideal Records to McAllen promoter, RGV TV show host, to the man at the forefront of the rarely talked about South Texan evangelist-conjunto scene, where he had wild financial success. Reportedly, he had his own dang jet! He’s one of the best accordionist that this area ever produced, and some of the older crowd often puts him at the very top of that list. This is “Idalia,” one of his most popular instrumentals. Check out how much in control he is of the squeezebox. Incredible to watch him at his age, and see how great and smooth he can still be with his fingers on that Dino Baffetti accordion.
>> Danny Yanez, “Ojitos/Mi Bella Genio”
My Tio Chano played saxophone with Danny Yanez y Los Chavos back in the day. The late Danny Yanez was this really great conjunto accordionist from Donna. Donna, like Edcouch-Elsa, was one of those Valley areas that just produced so many great musicians over the years. Yanez briefly played with Esteban Jordan and was forever influenced by his style. They also once sang together with Little Joe’s band for a song called “El Parrandero.” This is a great video to check out how good Yanez was on the accordion, and see how he interpreted Jordan’s iconic style.