Sunday, August 17, 2008

Herman Matthews Hang II

Better crowd this time. Very appreciative audience, and rightfully so; the cats were cookin' big-time. Great solo rides in particular.

Above, another of the trumpet players in the Tom Jones show. I didn't get his name. Didn't shoot many pics tonight. I tried a number of times, but could not get a manager on the phone (no email contact link on their website) to ask about re-aiming the house stage lights for better illumination and coverage. Maybe by next time (they'll be back in November). I weenie'd out and bailed to flash on a couple of shots, but I hate doing that, they look so cheesy.

Below, Santa Fe Seat-of-Funk season ticker holder Andy, and Jessica diggin' the scene.

The coolest of peeps.


Dave will be guesting for Jerry tomorrow night to open the show.

Band starts at 10:30 pm. No cover, no minimum as always. Join us for a great hang.

Our Texas bro "Ham"

Cool article I was copied on this morning:
Austin American STATESMAN Sunday, August 17, 2008

If you want to know what a paradox looks like, take a gander at Tony Guerrero. Known as "Ham" to his friends, Guerrero has been all around the Texas music scene as a performer, arranger, manager — whatever needed doing, he did it.

But unless you're a devotee of the genre known generally as Tejano music, you've probably never heard of him. Even so, Guerrero has sold a ton of records and rubbed artistic shoulders with giants over the course of a career that spans four decades. Like so many other musicians, Guerrero gravitated to Austin after a career that started out in San Angelo. That's right, he's a homey.

In the 1970s, Guerrero's band Tortilla Factory was a hot ticket despite limited promotion and airplay.

At 64, his health is failing. He needs a kidney transplant.

A little thing like that, however, doesn't dull Guerrero's devotion to a unique genre of Texas music influenced by Mexican, jazz, big band, country, R&B and rock 'n' roll. You can argue about what Tejano music is exactly, but there is no arguing that Tejano musicians had to learn a variety of styles and rhythms because their audiences demanded it. The people who bought their records and paid to dance to the music live embraced Little Richard as well as Little Joe. The result is a musical expression of Texas Chicano attitude with lots of horns.

Though their fans loved them, critics and radio stations generally ignored them. Even the programs with a Latino play list generally snubbed Tejano music and still do — a source of tension between Mexican Americans and radio stations aimed at Mexican immigrants.

It all brings to mind the lyrics to "I Dig Rock and Roll Music": "I think I could say somethin' if you know what I mean / But if I really say it, the radio won't play it ... "

Even if the radio didn't play it, that unique style of music took root and flourished.

Guerrero is seeking to revive the magic that Tortilla Factory conjured back in the '70s. He's produced one CD and just released "All That Jazz." He even lured Bobby Butler, known as "El Charro Negro" back into the game. An African American, Butler sings Chicano style Spanish. He is "the only black American in the world singing the Tejano thing to perfection," Guerrero said. Nat King Cole cut albums in Spanish, but they were Mexican ballads. Butler is puro Chicano.

Guerrero started his own label, Tortilla Records, and thus puts the promotion and artistic direction of the product in his hands. The Web allows Guerrero to bypass radio stations and critics.

"We have reached a point in our lives that the Internet opened up avenues we never had before. Tortilla is loved and appreciated in places like Brazil, the U.K., Mexico. In only two performances we've done in the last two years our attendance was over 1,500 people both times," Guerrero said.

"We don't wear cowboy hats, boots, wranglers, no accordion. Our two most outstanding traits remain our versatility and sophistication."

Guerrero and other Tejano troubadours were the connecting tissue of Chicano culture in their heyday. They provided the bilingual sound track of our lives not to mention all those memories of Saturday night dances that provided rhythmic relief from drab lives.

Sociology aside, it was and is just damn good music.

A blog post I just got in:
After thirty five years, Tortilla Factory has resurfaced and is ready to conquer a new generation of fans.

Yes, founder/bandleader Tony "Ham" Martínez Guerrero and original vocalist Bobby "El Charro Negro" Butler are back at the helm, however their latest compact disc also features the lead singer that will carry the torch forward; and that is Alfredo Antonio.

(Above: That's Ham in the middle, Randy Caballero on the left and Alfredo Anttio on right of photo.)

Best of all, the threesome will be making a personal appearance at Janie's Record Shop on Saturday, August 23rd at 2 p.m. to promote the most anticipated CD of the year. The official release date for this production

is August 15 thus making it eligible for a Grammy nomination.

"Tierra, El Chicano, Malo, Tower of Power and Poncho Sánchez all contacted me when they found out we were back in the studio. So we're getting a lot of love from California," Ham said during an interview at Studio Masters Recording Studio in Austin.

"In Texas, there's a wait and see attitude, but we will prevail. That's why we're working harder than ever and we practice until we bleed because we are not leaving anything to chance."

That must be pretty grueling for the 64-year-old bandleader, who died twice during a quintuplet bypass operation and undergoes dialysis three times a week, but his family says he seemed to be dying without the music that flowed in his veins and gave him life. Therefore, this is a sort of resurrection for Ham and Tortilla Factory.

What is not surprising is that his version of "What a Wonderful World" with a driving, yet lush, big band sound, coupled with a jazz guitar is probably the standout tune in this album.
An email I'd gotten from Jerry:

Tony "Ham" Guerrero from the "Tortilla Factory" band (some of my childhood heroes) asked me to contribute some tracks to his son Alfredo's songs on what is most likely Tony's last musical endeavor as he is suffering from numerous physical ailments. I was honored to be asked and did it as a payback for all the inspiration he and his crew gave me growing up.

I did the Nylon, electric guitars and all the Backgrounds on the song and sent it back to them to mix.

This is a YouTube clip they just sent me of them. Makes me feel good to have made music with, and for the heroes that underscored the formative years of my musical career. And there have been many.

- JLopez


BTW, our Minnesota friend Gerry Francis shot a bunch of video footage at the gig while he and his wife were here recently. YouTube link here. Sample below ("Wishing Well"):

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