Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 7:35 pm
The Tejano ROOTS Hall of Fame honors and recognizes Tejano artists, musicians, composers and others who have contributed to the awareness and entertainment of the Tejano culture.
More than 200 artists have been inducted since it began in 1999.
“I didn’t think it would happen,” Valadez said of his and Paderna’s induction. “You have to be around for a long time (to be nominated), and we have been around for 37 years. People from Alice to Houston to Corpus (Christi) know of us. It’s been a long way over the years, and we’ve had some close calls,” he said of being on the road. “Being inducted was the last thing on my mind, and it was a surprise to me.”
Valadez, 58, and Paderna attended the Tejano ROOTS 13th Annual Hall of Fame Noche de Fiesta Tejana dance and induction ceremony on Jan. 5.
“The band started back in 1975. We played clubs and just about anywhere we could. Later, we opened up for top, Grammy Award-winning Tejano bands like Mazz, Roberto Pulido, Little Joe, La Mafia, Michael Salgado and many more,” Valadez said.
Valadez has a handwritten list of about 40 Tejano bands and artists that he can point a finger to and remember when and where La Guerra Musical opened for them. He can also recall any other experiences that happened along the way.
“Everyone on the list knows us personally. They see me and they say, ‘Hey David,’” he said.
“Sunny (Ozuna) and the Sun Liners later discovered we had something, so Sunny took us to West Texas and invited us to record our first album under Key-Loc Records in San Antonio.”
The band played all over Texas and these days stays busy playing at weddings and quinceaneras.
“Thirty years later, we are still very busy,” Valadez said.
In 2011, the band recorded its latest album “Me Gusta Todo de Ti” with Hacienda Records out of Corpus Christi. It is set to get back in the studio in March.
Valadez had an interest in the accordion at a young age. He would pull up a stool in front of his uncle’s closet in order to take down an accordion to play.
“My uncle would not let me play his accordion. I guess he thought I would break it, but I would get it out anyway, and they would take it away,” he said.
Valadez received his own accordion at the age of 8.
“My friend who also lived in Little Mexico on the West side of Port Lavaca like I did had a two-row accordion. I was telling my mom I wanted an accordion. I cried enough to where my mother put one on layaway at what used to be Collins Music Center in Port Lavaca,” Valadez said.
“My mother gave them $5 a month, and they let me use it there while she made payments. The accordion cost $80. The day she took it out of layaway, she went shopping at the mall, but I stayed in the car playing the accordion,” he said. “I think that accordion is at the house, but in pieces.”
After learning the accordion, Valadez began banging on his mother’s metal sewing box, because it sounded like a snare drum.
At age 11, Valadez got his first chance to play live for an audience at the COD Dance Hall in his neighborhood.
“I was watching a band there, and they asked me to play the drums,” he said.
At this time, Valadez was also learning to play bass guitar, the keyboard and the bajo sexto, a key Tejano and conjunto musical instrument.
His big break in music came at age 16, when Joe Kino, of Placedo, asked Valadez if he would play bass with his band on a three-month tour of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, on the same circuit as Abraham Quintanilla Sr., the father of the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez.
“I told them I know the basics. I was a much better player when I came back,” he said.
Valadez formed La Guerra Musical with vocalist Paderna and bassist Mario Serna shortly after returning home from the tour.
In the 1980s, the band would later play alongside a then 10-year-old Selena as she sang “La Bamba” at the Sun Valley bar in Victoria.
Since forming the band, Valadez has worked as a contractor for 25 years and raised a family with his wife, Maria Delores Valadez, while he traveled to play gigs.
“I can remember getting off on Friday, jumping onto the motor home and doing a gig in Houston,” he said. “My father, Celestino Valadez, who is 87, drove us everywhere to the gigs. He slept while I played. He drove us from Houston to the (Rio Grande) Valley once, straight through. Now I drive.”
The demand for shows has not slowed down in almost 40 years, Valadez said.
“People keep calling and calling. We just kept on playing. Nate (Paderna) said to me, ‘You know we only have three open Saturdays a year. The rest are given to weddings and quinceaneras,’” he said.
Valadez said what has kept him going is his drive to please a crowd.
“I love playing live because I can play my original songs, of which I have written about 40. If someone asks me to sing a song that is not mine, I will do it if I know it, whether it is Spanish or country,” he said. “When I hear a new song I like, I try to learn it.”
Valadez also recently joined El Mariachi Tejano, a group from Bloomington.
His love for Tejano music remains strong, despite the changes in style.
“Tejano music is getting more modernized, but I think the younger crowd is getting into it, while the older ones, who are now in their 70s and 80s, are getting out of it,” Valadez said. “It is still Tejano, but now in a different style. The music still has the bajo sexto and the accordion. The songs have a lot more chords than before, and more runs here and there. The horns, like the trumpet and the saxophone, are also coming back.”
As far as La Guerra Musical is concerned, Valadez does not see recording and performing ending any time soon.
“I think I will give up work first before I give up music. I cannot get the love of music out of me. When I get the people dancing, I can’t stop. I can go for two hours,” Valadez said. “You know, my dad was born in Alice. And the Tejano ROOTS Hall of Fame and Museum are in Alice. This induction brought me back to my roots.”