Chapter 9: Mariachi Aguilas/ Mariachi Kineno(1999)
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Mariachi Aguilas/ Mariachi Kineno
To describe what was happening in the South Texas Mariachi scene during the late 20th century (very late, November/December1999 to be exact) one has to remember what we, as a nation, faced that winter. That was the count down to Y2K. Many jokes had been made about this event. Local radio host Happy the Clown joke that it meant, “Y tu que?,” which in Spanish translates to “and you what?” Most of the world was really scared that it was TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). Images of massive destruction, Nike commercials showing a hung over New Year’s Day parties running past National Guard tanks and out of control atomic missiles.
As history will remember Y2K a not event, it’s coming will be remembered as a very eventful year in South Texas mariachi circles. 1999 was a watermark for me. I had ended my first stint with Mariachi Cascabel in 1998 and joined Mariachi Fuego only to be left in what I will call disgust. While I delt with my final months in Mariachi Fuego, I was in secret negotiations with Mary Lou Gonzalez about joining her group, then Named Mariachi Aguilas. Tony and I would start as soon as we gave our notice to Mando Botello.
It was then that I began my brief, but educational and rewarding tour of duty with Mariachi Aguilas. We began playing the very next week and things went very well. I was really impressed by the fact that we took publicity shots right away. The group was smaller than Cascabel had been, but it was larger than Fuego was. The material they played was very different from the things that Cascabel and Fuego were doing. There was more of a connection with the people.
The group was made up of some people I’d played with, some that I had never played with and some I would never play with again. Kike Ortega was head male vocalist and guitar player. I had played with him in Cascabel some two years before. Pete Suarez was on guitarron. He too had been part of my Cascabel years and would be instrumental in my development as an independent mariachi musician. Mary Lou was on Violin along with J.P. Ramirez. J.P. was an encyclopedia of mariachi music and continued to amaze me to this day. He seemed to know every song of significance. I developed greatly under his initial guidance. I learned J.P.’s style, as I had done with Ernie several years before. All mariachi musicians should know that they must learn from people who have experience and knowledge. That is the only way to grow. If you want to make your own style, you must begin with what other’s know. Even a carpenter starts with wood and nails, they don‘t just pull them out of thin air.
Emilio Soliz, Jr. , or just Emmie, was also on the violin. Emmie is also very good on vihuela. His father, Emilio is a popular mariachi expert and well seasoned musician in the South Texas mariachi world. Emmie continued his career helping out various groups and became a renowned musician. Tony Moreno played vihuela for us and I continued as violinist.
Since then I have continued to expand my horizons. In 1996, I became a Knight of Columbus and rose to the rank of 3rd Degree Knight. I serve with the Premont, Texas Council 5348. I later transfer to Kingsvilles 2624. I also did my student teaching that year at Ben Bolt/Palito Blanco High School