Tony De La Rosa: new tribute 10/25 by his Riviera hometown

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(Filed by our Corpus Christi correspondent Rene Cabrera)

Conjunto pioneer Tony De La Rosa, who died in June 2004, will be given a tribute by his hometown of Riviera this coming Saturday, Oct. 25.De_La_Rosa_Tony2_Provided_by_Hacienda 284.JPG

Tony De La Rosa was a mere child when his dad got him his first accordion.  He learned to play it, he said, by listening to the old songs.  He credited other accordionists for contributing to his development as an accordionist - guys who were twenty years his senior - guys like Pedro Ayala, Narciso Martinez and Valerio Longoria. 

Born in Sarita, in what De La Rosa himself called a "ranchito south of Kingsville" in 1931, De La Rosa first took the stage at accordion with a country band. The circuit included Corpus Christi, Tynan, Robstown, San Sebastian, Falfurrias and other communities in deep South Texas.  In 1949 De La Rosa started fronting his own conjunto.

Having been influenced by country music, De La Rosa infused the nuances of country with German, Czech and Mexican styles for Tejano audiences. Although De La Rosa is given credit for among other things, being the first to incorporate the standard drum set in a conjunto ensemble, he commented on those claims modestly in a 1996 interview.

JimenezFlaco 10 2008.JPG"In San Antonio, Los Tres Reyes and Daniel Garces already were using drums," he said.  "Maybe I was first in the South.  I don't know whether I did it first or whether someone else introduced them before me.  But drums made it easier for dancers to follow the music. It allowed the accordionist and bajo-sexto player to concentrate on rhythm, melody and style, while the drums handled beat," he said.  De La Rosa sang his own vocals mostly, but over the years he added vocalists like Greg Parades and Joe Ramos for style and effect.

Anyone who knows Tejano or conjunto music knows that Tony De La Rosa's signature tune was, and still is, "Atotonilco," a tune that he turned into one of the most recognized instrumentals ever cut in a recording studio. "El Sube y Baja" and "El Circo" are just a couple of other of his well-known pieces. 

Tony De La Rosa remained semi-active as a performer up until just a few weeks before his death in June of 2004 at age 72.  Today, Tony De La Rosa is still played on radio.  Fans who know his music still remember his friendly and easy-going style. Add to that an exemplary work ethic that was a given for fans who knew that De La Rosa was going to supply what they came for, "taquachito" and polkas at their best. For more, click continue below

The entertainment persona of Tony De La Rosa is the result of the collective memory of fans over the years, and it's imbedded in Tejano Music culture. Over time, De La Rosa carved a career that spanned half a century.  He performed throughout the country and was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts for being instrumental in shaping today's Tejano Music.

Now the city of Riviera, a community of approximately 2000, is taking steps to honor the conjunto great with an event organizers call "A tribute to Tony De La Rosa - Preserving the Legacy."  Set for Saturday, Oct. 25 at the JK Northway Expo Center complex south of Kingsville, the event features a blending of South Texas cultures that includes rodeo events and conjunto music. Organizer Fred Bell said that the event honors De La Rosa.  Funds raised will additionally go toward establishing a scholarship, and to help support the historical museum in Riviera.

"One of our goals is to preserve the richness and heritage of the area that, of course, includes German and Hispanic cultures.  We think it's important to preserve these cultures to show how they interacted together to make South Texas what it is. If things go well, we hope to make this an annual celebration," he said.

Sign-up for barrel racing starts at 8 a.m., racing begins at 9 a.m.. Sign-up for team roping starts at 12 noon and the event starts at 1:30 pm. 

Conjuntos are scheduled to perform all day from around noon until midnight and include Los Texmaniacs De San Antonio with special guest Flaco Jimenez; Linda Escobar; Lazaro Perez; Cuatro Rosas; Conjunto Soliz; Los Tremendos Alacranes; Little Michael; Los Electros; Jorge Roel Y Potrillo; and Bernardo Y Sus Compadres. Linda Escobar headlines the afternoon portion with a 3 p.m. performance. Flaco Jimenez takes the stage at 11 p.m. 

Tickets are $15.00 at the door.  Children under 10 are free. For information 1-888-866-9493. Web information or purchase tickets online at


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This page contains a single entry by Ramiro Burr published on October 20, 2008 12:03 PM.

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