Latin Notes: Jimenez nears end of his solo career

Latin Notes: Jimenez nears end of his solo career

By Hector Saldaña – Express-News

Web Posted: 04/08/2010 12:00 CDT

One day, history books will say that Flaco Jimenez’s solo recording career lasted 56 years. That’s his number, not mine.The legendary accordionist, who scored his first hit with his very first record — a polka, “Hasta La Vista,” with bajo sexto player Hugo Gonzalez singing the flip, “Pobre Bohemio,” released as a 78 rpm on the Tipico label in 1954 — has decided his upcoming record will be his last.

That he’s making the album with longtime friends Gonzalez, Toby Torres, Henry Zimmerle, Fred Ojeda, Nick Villarreal, Jesse Ponce and Max Baca makes things that much more touching.

“I’m not expecting a million seller,” said Jimenez, 71. “But I decided to remember those good old days and just to tell them, ‘Thanks.’”

Saturday, Jimenez and his conjunto group celebrate the 56th anniversary of his first hit with a down-home gig at Ruben’s Place, 15069 I-35 N. (just south of Olympia Parkway). Music runs from 7-11 p.m.

He’s not going away — the Texas Tornados are back and he’ll soon be guest-starring on a George Strait record — but Jimenez insisted he has recorded his last solo album.

Recent eye surgery has left him “looking like a goddamn raccoon” and an auto accident a few months ago injured his right thumb, a nagging injury that has required steroid shots.

“It’s been a long road,” said Jimenez, recalling that the first song he ever learned was his father’s classic “Viva Seguin.”

“At that time, polkas were new and it was a hit,” said the self-taught musician.

Jimenez grew up poor on Pastores Street in a barrio near the quarry where the San Antonio Zoo and Alamo Stadium now stand. The street and neighborhood no longer exist.

His grandfather, Patricio Jimenez, a musician who played one-row accordion, worked there.

“He used dynamite to blow the cement out,” Jimenez said, “like Wile E. Coyote.”

They never met, but Jimenez loved that story about him.

As a boy, Jimenez listened to country music on the radio, as well as German polkas.

In 1955, he jumped to three-row button accordion. The new album will include his arrangement of “Honky Tonk” (“Tex-Mex Honky Tonk”), as well as a scathing indictment of “a Mexican singer who sings like hell and looks like (expletive), has a razor-cut hair-do and is a real slob, man.”

About his fabled career: “I’ve been fortunate just to survive,” Jimenez said.

Find news, updates, concert info and more in the Latin Notes Now blog at http://www.mySA.com. Keyword: Entertainment.

Find this article at:
http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/Latin_Notes_Jimenez_nears_end_of_his_solo_career.html?showFullArticle=y

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