Grupo Vida talks about upcoming CD, on stage
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Cinco de Mayo
• WHEN: Noon-11 p.m. Saturday
• WHERE: De Leon Plaza, Victoria
• COST: Free, but there will be vendors; no coolers will be allowed.
• FOR INFO: Call 361-573-5277 or visit victoriachamber.org.
Grupo Vida is one of the bands set to perform Saturday at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Minority Business Council's Cinco de Mayo celebration in downtown Victoria on Saturday.
Also performing will be Elida Reyna y Avante and Jay Perez.
Grupo Vida, which has performed together for 17 years, recently branched out into the country music realm through their alter-ego, The Electric Cowboys.
Lead singer and saxophone player, Art Tigerina, took a moment to talk to the Victoria Advocate about his Tejano roots.
What's it like performing for Cinco de Mayo in an area where it is so important to the area's heritage?
It's always been a real busy time of year for us - Cinco de Mayo and the Diez y Seis de Septiembre celebrations, of course - but it's really neat. It's part of our culture. To be able to play at festivals and celebrate, it's really an honor to play and see people get together celebrating and having a good time.
You grew up in a Mexican-American household; how did that help you as a musician?
My dad was a singer, and my brother was in a Tejano band. I listened to country music a lot when I was growing up as kid - the old school country. So I grew up with a mixture of both.
Here in the Grupo Vida, the guys in the band had a lot of different backgrounds. They listened to Tejano, rock, country, and we try to incorporate it all. We do Tejano with rock, we do some '80s stuff, and we do some really fun stuff.
Music has always been a big part of my life growing up with my dad and my brother. I grew up around it, and it helped catapult me to where I am now.
Grupo Vida has been performing for about 17 years now, so have you seen any big changes in the Tejano music scene since then?
It started out with con junto, then they came out with a lot brass with Little Joe (y la Familiaand Ruben Ramos. Then it changed back to the accordion style. Emilio (Navaira) came around, and of course you have (Grupo) Mazz, who incorporated the keyboard into Tejano music, and it was a popular sound. And then Emilio came back around and added accordion to the keyboard sound. The Kumbia Kings came in and did a more reggaeton kind of cumbia,... So it's constantly evolving.That's why when we record, we try to add a little bit of everything. We do a little bit of cumbia and more accordion-based music and a lot of keyboard-sax music. We try to include something for everybody.
Who are some big names that Grupo Vida follows?
We all grew up with somebody newRam (Herrera), Latin Breed, David Lee Garza - those bands that have been around for a long time. We started out emulating that and using that style at our shows until we were able to get our own. And you know, everyone says that they have their own style, but I believe everybody's style is a little bit of everybody else's. People say, 'Oh, that's my style,' and I say, 'No, not really. Somebody before you had that style.' So we don't try to play a certain style, we just play what people enjoy and have fun with.
Now that you're recording an all-country CD as The Electric Cowboys, what kind of lyrics or messages are you putting out there?
We've got a lot of different stuff. The CD is titled "Heartaches and Highways," and the whole CD revolves around being on the road - what we've learned on the road, the road we've traveled, the miles we've traveled and the heartaches we've endured, emotionally and mentally. A lot of people don't know it's a hard road. You come out to shows, and you see the band, see the show for those couple of hours that we put into. Then everybody goes home. Our life continues as a musician, and it's hard. There are a lot of sacrifices that we've made. When we write these songs, it sinks deep into where we've been, and I think when we get done with the CD, people will really get a grasp of it.
For Victoria's Cinco de Mayo, will you be performing the Tejano or the country music?
We're gonna do both. It's been working for us, and we incorporate skits in our shows to keep people involved and entertained. Instead of playing song after song, we do skits with each other and try and make the band the focal point - they came out to see the band. We know that sometimes going to see music, and they all sound the same the whole time, then you get bored or the visual effect doesn't change, and we try to change it up. We're always looking for ways to keep them entertained.