BY EDUARDO MARTINEZ
Here is a look at four regional music gems you can find on YouTube.
>>“Mis Pasos Andaran” by Los Fantasmas del Valle: With a name like Los Fantasmas del Valle, one would expect them to have more ghost related songs. As it stands, this is the only ghost song I’ve heard from them in the many years I’ve followed their career. This is a composition by Julian Garcia, and it was recorded in 1968 at Gilberto Perez’s Nuevo Records Studios in Mercedes. This creepy tune tells the tale of a man who died but comes back as a ghost to haunt his girlfriend. The band didn’t have a name yet, and it would lead Gilberto’s brother Alejandro to ask, “¿Por que no les ponemos Los Fantasmas del Valle?” (“How come we don’t name y’all The Ghosts of the Valley?”) The name has stuck for almost 50 years.
>>“Automatic Writing” by Poe: Like the band Seompi, people are usually shocked to find out that this band is from the Valley. Poe stands for the original name of the band: Playboys of Edinburg. This is a really great psych rock song that starts with “Last night a spirit came to me…” The concept album that this comes from is titled Up Through The Spiral, and is based on the works of Edgar Cayce, a “Christian Mystic” who was known as “The Sleeping Prophet.”
>>“Debajo de Aquel Naranjo” by Ruben Vela: The great accordionist Ruben Vela passed away 7 years ago in Harlingen at the age of 72. One of my all time favorite musicians, and someone whose music I listen to a lot. This song right here is one that doesn’t get as much attention as his 1990s hits “El Coco Rayado” and “La Papaya,” but it’s a classic in its own right. Just a great conjunto tune that deserves more attention.
>>“Kad je volim neka patim” by Kvartet Paloma: Someone from Croatia was once telling me that Mexican music became huge in Croatia for a brief period in time during the 1960s. This is one of the songs he recommended me to check out. They would do their own covers on mariachi songs but in their own language. Sounds really neat!