One of the world's greatest musicians.
Flaco Jimenez is the most famous Cojunto musician in the world. Chances are you've heard it played and didn't know it. Rather than have this Gringo try to explain it, here's a great article on The Roots of Cojunto Music.
When German button accordions found their way to Texas, they began being used to play traditional Mexican songs. This accordion based music helped give birth to the Cojunto music we hear today. Flaco is the king of Cojunto accordion.
This guy's famous, right?
I recall doing a Texas Tornado down in South Texas. Most of the band had already taken the stage. Then Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm, and Augie Meyers took the stage, each one getting a tremendous round of applause as the crowd recognized them. There was a security guy that was standing next to me. I was situated on the left side of the stage right near the stairs that were used to enter the stage. Last but not least, Flaco appeared. As he walked to the center of the stage, he gave a wave to the audience. The crowd went absolutely wild. The thunder of the applause and screams could be felt. It actually hurt your ears they were so loud. The security guy turns to me and says, "This guy's famous, right?" "Uh, yeah", I said.
A lot of English speaking folks may not be that familiar with Flaco, but if you go to Germany, Mexico, Spain, Italy, or anywhere in Texas, they all know Flaco. He would roam the stage smiling, playing some outrageous accordion licks that put the crowd in a frenzy. These people were not just casual listeners either. They knew Flaco's signature licks. This was serious stuff.
It's not uncommon to see Flaco leave the stage at some point in the concert and go down into the crowd. We got a little scared, as there were screaming throngs of people, but Flaco just launched right into the crowd. He never stopped playing. He just took it higher and higher. He is the people's champion. They love him.
I remember back in 1990 when Freddy Fender first called and told me I was going to get to play with The Texas Tornados. I was thrilled. He made a big point of telling me that I would need to really know my stuff. He said, "Flaco is a very serious musician." Well, I wood-shedded probably more than I ever have on any project. I not only learned my keyboard parts, but I learned a lot of Flaco's licks so I could know when to comp, when to double him or harmonize with him, that sort of thing.
We rehearsed in Austin, Texas for the upcoming tour. Flaco was wonderful. We hit it off immediately. There was a great chemistry, and he seemed to appreciate the fact that I learned a lot of his licks. Of course I played them on a synthesizer, but he thought it was great. He made it easy on the rest of us. It was all about having fun. If he gave instructions for something he wanted us to play, it was always with a gentle touch. He's a very kind person.
Lost keys and good times.
Back in my partying days, I used to go drinking with Flaco. We had a lot in common, as both of our fathers were famous musicians. We talked a lot about music and all sorts of things. The night after I first met my beloved Teri, I invited her to a party that Flaco and I were having after a concert. She and a friend came the concert that night, and to my surprise they came to the party afterwards. There were lots of people there and we all had a blast just listening to Flaco on accordion and Max Baca on Bajo, telling jokes and exchanging stories. Teri really liked Flaco. We even worked on a song together that night. I've yet to record it, but I will. Teri and I still talk about how much fun we had hanging out with Flaco that night. He's a real gentleman.
Once we had a gig booked in Konocti, California. It's beautiful country situated above Napa Valley's wine country. Most of the guys traveled from the airport to Konocti in a big van, but we couldn't all fit in it. Flaco and I were left to rent a vehicle and meet them up there. We stopped at a few wineries and tried some of the local wines. I remember Freddy telling me "don't you guys have too much fun, we've got a gig to do." He added, "whatever you do, don't lose the car keys." Well, we eventually made it to the Konocti Harbor Resort. We checked into our hotel rooms and then we drove over to the showroom.
It was a great show that night. The sound was good, the audience was fantastic. It was a beautiful setting. After the show, Flaco and I went over to Emilio Navaira's hotel room to have a few drinks, play some music, and generally kick back after the show. Emilio was playing the night after us. The only thing we had to do the following day was to drive to San Fransisco. No big deal. So, we hung out and I got to know Emilo pretty well. We talked about country music. He's big fan of my father's music. Around four in the morning we were getting tired, so we made our way back to our rooms. Flaco drove.
I thought you had the keys.
The next morning Flaco shows up at my door ready to head for San Fransisco. I asked him for the keys. He said, "I gave the keys to you last night." After an hour or so of trying to retrace our steps from the previous night, well, we never did find those keys. We had to call a locksmith. Konocti is in the middle of nowhere, so it took about three hours before we were even able to get started. There wasn't much to do, as we had already checked out of our hotel rooms, so we went to the bar. Probably not the best idea, but we had a great time just hanging out.
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jimenez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis
return to top