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The Krystals continues shining decades later

By Melissa Crowe
March 5, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 4, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.

The Krystals will play  at 9 p.m. Friday at Dodge City.

WHO ARE THE KRYSTALS

• Mark Zepeda, vocals/guitar

• Justin Ramirez, drums

• Sonny Ramirez, percussion/manager

• Emilio Licerio, bass

• Steve Solis, lead guitar

• George Cavazos, keyboards/vocals

• Michael Licerio, sound production

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: The Krystals

• WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday

• WHERE: Dodge City, 205-H Northstar Drive, Victoria

• COST: Free

George Cavazos has spent the past 44 years on a musical journey with The Krystals.

From supporting acts like Freddy Fender, Charly McClain and Johnny Rodriguez to headlining military shows and joining festivals across the state, The Krystals have become a staple in the Crossroads' music scene.

Cavazos, who started playing keys for the band when he was 17, caught up with Get Out to talk about the band's new lineup, how it keeps it fresh and what has kept him involved in the band.

You were just a teenager when you started, and you're 61 now. What made you join?

The leaders who were running the band were my cousins; I had just started playing keyboards with the nuns at Nazareth Academy. They needed a keyboard player, so I started playing with them.

I've been playing with the group ever since.

Here and there, I had my own other project that I tried out, but we always came back to having The Krystals.

You guys play a wide range of music; how are you able to switch from so many different genres so quickly?

For us, it's very easy because we've been doing it so long.

When we try to get musicians, it's pretty rough because the majority of musicians nowadays play one genre - they're either rock or Tejano players - they don't care to learn any other type of music. It used to be that musicians liked to learn all types of music, and Tejano to us is easy to play, but it's amazing how hard it is for some of these guys to pick it up.

The crowd that follows us is a lot of people who like classic country and rock, and we have the Tejano people who like the cumbias.

When we first played at Dodge City, the owner said he didn't want any Latin music, but the fans were there and spending money, so we try to balance it out and remember that it's a country place.

When we play at the Golden Gecko, it's a whole different deal. We lean more on Hispanic and Latin beats.

We're geared up for any type of crowd.

It doesn't matter to us; we just like to play music.

We've always been a variety - not a Tejano band or a country band or a rock band; we just like playing all types of music.

The band recently hired on a new guitarist, Steve Solis. How's that working out?

He was hesitant to come into the band because he had never played Tejano music. When he finally decided he wanted to do it - well, he's doing really good.

He has that blues influence, and you can put that into whatever type of music you're playing. When I was younger, I did nothing but black clubs in Corpus and San Antonio, Edna and Port Lavaca. It was a lot of George Clinton, Kool and the Gang, The Gap Band and Cameo. You can use whatever you learn.

What's kept you in the band for 44 years?

Just the love of music, and really, it's as simple as that. We all have jobs. We've never been living off music - to us, it's always been a hobby.

To tell you the truth, all of us come from fathers who were musicians and had their own bands. Mark Zepeda's dad had a really popular band; my father had a really popular conjunto band, the rest of the guys also.

The drummer is my nephew, the sound guy is my brother-in-law, and the bass player has been with me since he was about 17 or 18 years old.

In high school, we'd go to Bryan, Temple and Killeen - we'd play Friday, Saturday and Sunday - but as you get older, you cut that out. It's just too much running around. If it was up to Steve and Mark, they'd play every night.

Right now, it's a blast; everyone's having a really good time, and things are starting to mesh together real nice. Is there any plan to sit down and record an album?

Yesterday, we're setting up the stuff and equipment we're going to need.

We built a little studio at my brother-in-law's house, and Michael Licerio, who went to music school in California; we're setting up equipment we'll need.

We record every night we play, so we have live recordings, but we have never sat down to record an album.

Melissa Crowe will listen to anything once, twice if she likes it. Got a song you'd like to share? Chat with her on twitter @MelCrowe or message her at mcrowe@vicad.com.

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