I had played with a local mariachi group called Mariachi Tejano. This group was led by Javier Montalvo, a guitar player from my days with Premont High School’s Mariachi Juvenil de Mi Pueblo. We had played many gigs in Premont and Falfurrias, but I had always remained somewhat passive in the workings and musical composition of that group. In Mariachi Del Rancho, however, I played a very active role. My Grandfather taught me how to play music by ear, as well as by note. We played many songs and increased our outlook toward those songs. Jimmy Salazar, my good friend throughout High School, was our lead trumpet player and Michael Garza; another good friend was our second trumpet. I was our violinist, while my Grandfather and his friend Ralph Mata was on rhythm. Later we added Sonia Mata, a then well known singer, to our group. We played our first gig at the Catholic Church in Hebbronville, Texas. Frank Vera, a local guitar player from Rios, Texas, was added and we began to play almost every weekend for divided pay. Our average pay per hour was about 20 dollars, very good for the times.
The summer between my high school life and my college years would see many changes in my life. 1994 was the last year I could afford to act like a child. This would be when almost all my childhood friends would go off into the world. Some, like Jimmy Salazar would go off to bigger universities, such as St. Mary’s in San Antonio. Others would go off strait to the military. Even more would go off to college unprepared, mentally and academically, and have to return home in some way. So many leave the small town too immature to survive in a big city and stick to the type of life style that university study demands. Would I be up to the challenge? Would I fail in some way? Only time could tell.