Driving Through Texas on 23 Songs

Flaco Jimenez and Los Lonely Boys show off their roots & influences

By Frank Ramirez
Published on LatinoLA: November 10, 2003

Driving Through Texas on 23 Songs

You might be wondering about the title? Let me explain ? I was given the task to review two new CDs. And after giving each a few spins, I realized something beyond that fact that they were good albums ? that they would be great CDs to bump on your standard-issue car radio while on a road trip.

And what better place to be road tripping than the birth state of Flaco Jimenez and Los Lonely Boys (pictured) ? Texas.

We begin the drive with Flaco Jimenez and his CD entitled SQUEEZE BOX KING. This self-produced album is a testament to the accordion and for a writer who is listening to Jimenez for the first time this is not an empty claim but the real deal. With eleven tight songs that jump from polka to bolero to Tex Mex rancheras, this is the perfect soundtrack for an adventure-filled road trip.

The album opens with a traditional polka sung in three languages ? English, Spanish and Dutch ? entitled ?En El Cielo No Hay Cerveza? which sets the stage nicely for the entire album (and coincidently has become my new motto). The bouncy little song is an ode to fun and life and everything that comes with it. But each song has a life of its own, like the cumbia driven ?Cuando Te Quiero, Te Vas? to the touching ?Tumba Sin Flores.?

But what is remarkable is the way Jimenez makes the accordion ? or squeeze box ? sing. In every song, the accordion lets the listener know what emotion they will feel even before the first lyric is sung.

At times, the accordion is stronger than the spoken word. It earns its place in each song and will not let you forget what it's doing there. You feel when it's happy and sad, heartbroken or madly in love. If it asks you do dance, you dance. The accordion will make you feel so many things and will help you enjoy life.

Jimenez makes the accordion sound so cool!

We then move on to the new ?boys? in town, with Los Lonely Boys and their self-titled album. Hailing from San Angelo, TX, these three brothers ? Henry, Jojo and Ringo (Ringo being his real name. With a name like this, you know he was going to become a drummer) ? run through twelve original songs showing off ? and righteously so ? on their given instruments.

Los Lonely Boys are the type of band that wear their mentors / influences proudly on their sleeves, so much so that in their liner notes, they have inducted Carlos Santana into the brotherhood and made saints of Steve Ray Vaughn and Ritchie Valens.

But where others just copy, the Garza brothers take it to the next level.

Take ?Crazy Dream?. The opening guitar screams of Steve Ray Vaughn but quickly turns the corner and becomes all Henry on guitar. ?Heaven? is a beautiful cross of brown-eyed soul and good old-fashioned rock and roll that makes your head groove to the infectious tune.

The best song comes with ?Hollywood?, a sweetly simple (or so it seems) song about moving on and things to come. Played on an acoustic guitar with light but passionate Latin rhythms and some amazing harmonies between the brothers, this song foretells the future of Los Lonely Boys.

And then the road trip ends.

And we have two new albums ? one from a squeeze box legend and the other from soon to be legends. Albums that would be perfect anywhere and anytime, on the open road or in your backyard party on a cool autumn evening.

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