Classic Mexican ballads still buttress of San Antonio cafe

February 28, 2016 - garden totes

Manuel Lopez hadn’t sung in front of people for scarcely 60 years, given he was a immature member of a New Orleans Opera.

That all altered a integrate of Tuesdays ago on his 83rd birthday.

Sitting with his mother and some aged friends during a behind of a common West Side Mexican grill that morning, Lopez motionless to sing with a aging guitarists who had usually serenaded him with a normal birthday strain “Las Mananitas.”

“I don’t even know a songs, though we adore a music,” pronounced Lopez, a Korean War veteran, after his unpretentious “El Rey” with a musicians. “They helped me with a words.”

It was a standard Tuesday morning during Flor de Chiapas, owners Andrea Garcia’s down-home mark on Bandera Road circuitously Woodlawn Avenue where a breakfast tacos are cheap, interior walls are embellished orange immature and DayGlo orange and transparent cosmetic tablecloths competition a kitschy grapes ‘n’ cherries motif.

Tuesdays and Thursdays during a tiny restaurant, that is always bustling and can chair about 75, have prolonged been famous for a casual, unscripted midmorning contingent strain concerts that get started around 10:30 a.m.

For a dozen years, a handful of graying, guitar-toting semi-retired veteran contingent musicians led by Albino Alonzo, Ezequiel Martinez and Rogelio Arzola have collected around a same 3 tiny tables pushed together to jam on a regretful songs so compared with Eydie Gorme a Trio Los Panchos.

The Panchos’ music, that enjoyed a heyday in a late 1940s and via a ’50s, is characterized by nylon fibre Spanish guitars, balmy vital seventh chords, plucked tune lines, lightning-fast flourishes, a pulsing drum of a guitarron and harmonized voices swaddling a lead singer.

Their biggest songs embody “Sin Ti,” “Perfidia,” “Besame Mucho,” “Sabor a Mi,” “La Ultima Noche” and “La Barca” — songs abounding with a regretful communication of adore and longing.

It’s not grating — and it’s free. “Mexican strain is not all mariachi,” Carmen Lopez, Manuel’s wife, told a San Antonio Express-News ( But it is as beautifully old-fashioned. Silver-haired Alonzo, for example, plays by ear and still tunes his grievous 1940s guitarron by sounding out any note — La, Re, Sol, Do, Mi, La.

“I don’t know of any other place that lets we move your instruments and usually start playing,” pronounced Alonzo, 82.

It unequivocally began that simply, says Arzola, who leads Trio Los Yaquiz and lives nearby. He started a breakfast tradition during Flor de Chiapas 12 years ago with musician friends since he favourite a beef ranchero tacos. Now it’s grown to dual days a week.

“The chorizo criminal huevo and carnita asada tacos are good, too,” pronounced Arzola, who totes a cigar-box-sized amp so his guitar solos cut by a din.

Flor de Chiapas regulars — sweetly coiffed, quad-cane groupies in their 70s, 80s and 90s and ardent about this particular, ended genre — arrive early to waylay a circuitously counter or list to hear musicos whose total knowledge adds adult to 500 years or so.

Golden-age ranchera thespian Rita Vidaurri, who in a early 1950s achieved with Gorme and Los Panchos in New York and still recites a softly obscene fun that Gorme taught her, comes each Tuesday to listen and sing a strain or two. She knew many of a players when they were younger.

“No quiero huevos rancheros,” jokes Viduarri, 91, with a immature waitress pouring her a crater of decaf. “Quiero el ranchero.” (I don’t wish a eggs with ranchero sauce; we wish a rancher.) Moments later, she’s on her feet and left from trite comedian to full-throated force of nature, jolt her fists and singing of heartache.

Vidaurri’s favorite is a unhappy dissection strain “Sin Ti,” a regretful tune of that belies a agonise of a lyrics, in that a thespian confesses “without you, we can never live” and who contingency mournfully accept a finality of a partner “no longer subsequent to me.”

Emma Hernandez, a big-band thespian and dancer who in a early ’70s was a featured captivate during a Tower of a Americas and seemed in John Wayne’s “The Alamo,” lives circuitously and is a unchanging with her husband, Gilbert.

Cries of “¡otra, otra!” (another, another) go adult after she sings. “There is so most talent,” pronounced her lucent husband. “People don’t know.”

A grandfather holding his grandson lingers and listens circuitously a entrance after paying. Waitress Laura Garcia says her business “are happier when they sing.”

Carmen Camacho, who suffered haughtiness repairs to her legs after being shot in a behind 15 years ago, rolls by a place in her wheelchair offered peanut butter and oatmeal cookies she bakes. Tuesday mornings are good days since of “the accessible atmosphere.”

It’s not surprising to see Maria Velasquez Miller, a regular, soft-shoe dancing around a joint. There’s some-more going on than amusement and gritos. “It’s a tiny therapy for me. My father upheld divided final year,” she said.

Fans Yolanda Cuellar and her husband, Ruperto, make a expostulate in from Hondo during slightest twice a month to hear a Tuesday jam session. “It’s like you’re during home singing with your family,” Yolanda said. “It’s a family thing.”

As waitresses fist between swarming tables, balancing bowls of caldo and plates of pig chops and eggs to be served, Efren Cavazos common a story about saying a mythological Lydia Mendoza when he was a child during a Mexican-American tent show, La Carpa Cubana.

At 90, he’s a usually one in a corner who can contend he saw Vidaurri perform when she was a gangly teenager. Seeing her sing again brought behind childhood memories. “It’s nostalgia some-more than anything else,” he said. “If we like music, this is a place to suffer it.” And maybe rediscover a childish passion.

For 30 years, Miguel Angel Mendez was a florist. But a Puerto Rican native, lustful of Statue of Liberty ties, harbors a poet’s heart. Singing with these musicians is an outlet.

Usually calm to lay around a table, one of a guys, jolt maracas and harmonizing, Mendez unexpected rises during a romantic “Sin Ti,” conducting with his hands until he realizes he’s removing maybe a tiny too critical and breaks into a laugh. “You have to live (the lyric),” he explained.

Retired upholder Mario Fernandez, who mostly comes and sings with karaoke gusto, agreed. “You can feel a love,” pronounced Fernandez, who was innate in Mexico, describing a tiny place as “un Mexico chiquito.”

It’s true, Spanish is a denunciation mostly listened in a strain and during a tables. There’s a tiny framed reproduction of a Mexican dwindle circuitously a kitchen. And green, white and red dulces are sole during a register.

Retired postal workman Reynaldo Campos is a unchanging enthusiast though wants to keep a place — “where a youngest man is, like, 75” — a secret.

“I don’t wish people to learn it,” Campos said.

Information from: San Antonio Express-News,

Editor’s note: This is an AP Member Exchange common by a San Antonio Express-News.

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