If I were to describe myself, it would be “rampantly curious.” Decisions are kind of tough for me, and saying “no” is even tougher.
Luckily for me, being personally eclectic is not a curse. In fact, I like to think that it makes me pretty interesting. But for a company? For a business? Rough waters ahead!
Branding is one of the most important things I ever learned in school, and it’s something that I carry with me every single day, professionally. At first, it was difficult for a creative free-spirit like me to understand and I thought it was kind of confining (“What do you mean I can’t change the logo color?”), but then it clicked.
In any kind of business, you only have a short period of time to make your case to a customer before they move on to the next option. They want to know, quickly, if you can meet their needs. A strong brand does this.
A brand is your identity, your fingerprint. It says what you do and who you serve.
When we first started blogging a few years ago over at ranchoalegretexas.com, I wrote what I thought was a brilliant analysis of Ruben Naranjo’s cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet’s hit, “She’s About a Mover.” I went on and on about how there was no accordion, and it was in English, and what a great voice, blah, blah, blah. Periodically, when I would tell people that I “write” about Tejano and Conjunto music, I would point to that post.
The thing is, while I did okay overall, it wasn’t Ruben singing. And since there wasn’t any accordion, odds are very good that he wasn’t even in the studio. Turns out that the voice on the recording was that of original Gambler and longtime second voice and bajo sexto player, Pico Ramirez. Read more
I was living in Denver the first time I heard James Hunter on the radio. He had just hit it big with “People Gonna Talk,” and it was on heavy rotation on the AAA station I listened to at the time (the call letters and frequency escape me).
Alex Garcia-Rivera’s studio in Medford, MA, runs exclusively on vintage analog equipment, unlike most modern studios with digital capability. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff) Source: Boston Globe
I’ve had several moments in my life where I’ve been listening to the radio and have suddenly felt like I had been struck by a bolt of lightning. And this was another one of them. The Soul fan I am, I was struck not only by his voice and his top-notch band, but the sound. It was so warm, so rich, so perfectly matched with the soul of the performers. I was so enthralled by the sound that I did some research, and apparently Hunter searched all over England for an analog studio for this project, and he finally found one. Read more
If I believed in God, I’d imagine this to be his human form.
It had been a while since I had seen the John Denver-George Burns masterpiece, Oh God!, and I was surprised by some of the dialogue and God’s attitude. Much (but not all, of course) of what He had to say was rooted in Deism, which says that God created everything, gave us all the tools, and then walked away (i.e., He doesn’t answer prayers about football games). Essentially, it was atheism that couldn’t explain the origins of a lot of things, so those were attributed to a Creator.
Deism was pretty popular amongst the philosophers of the Enlightenment of the 1700s, not only in Europe, but right here in America too. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and James Madison, for example, exhibited heavy Deistic beliefs in their writing and philosophy. It eventually got absorbed by the Unitarian Universalist church, which continues the tradition of rational thought coupled with spiritualism to this day.
I’m not trying to get into a religious argument this morning (or any morning, afternoon or evening for that matter – it’s just not my style), nor am I trying to offend anyone. I’m just pointing out something I noticed that I thought was interesting in pop culture, offered some brief analysis and background, with the hope that someone else might think it’s interesting too.
John Denver, left; Scooter, right
And John Denver will always remind me of Scooter the Muppet.
Somewhere near Laredo
It’s 7:30 a.m, at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas. I’m shuffling down the hallway to the breakfast area in search of hot biscuits and gravy. My partner, Frank Cuellar, is making a waffle.
“So, what time do we need to be in Laredo?” I ask, adding yet another package of cream to my coffee.
“I told Edgar we’d call him around 1:00.” Frank says, carefully distributing butter to each well in his waffle.
“And San Antonio?”
“Ram knows we’re hitting Laredo first, and said he’s available all evening. How long of a drive is it to San Antonio?”
“I think it’s about three hours, but let me look it up.” A quick look at Google Maps tells me I’m not too far off. “Check out’s at eleven, so we should make it to Laredo by about 1:30.”
It’s a conversation we’ve had many times as we have traveled all over South Texas interviewing Tejano and Conjunto musicians. This was the last day of a trip that also included stops in Houston, Refugio, and of course, Corpus Christi. Our subjects ranged from a group of kids who play Conjunto to a mogul who owns his own record label. Today we’re headed to interview veteran Conjunto musician Edgar Vasquez and Tejano superstar Ram Herrera, and then we’re finally headed home.
With every interview, I can’t help but look back at the path I took to get here. It all started in Tulsa with a fateful evening listening to KMOD… Read more