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Last summer, Rancho Alegre headed out to the Texas panhandle on business. While we were out there, we thought we would touch base with one of the region's most popular groups: Los Arcos Hermanos Peña. We had already been all over the Valley, Houston, and Central Texas, and we wanted to know more about the scene out in that area of the state, which is not traditionally known for Conjunto. We were not disappointed...
We spent a Saturday afternoon with brothers Jerry (accordion), Larry (saxophone), Gilbert (bass) and Fidencio Peña (drums) in their clubhouse in their hometown of Dimmitt. "Clubhouse" is kind of an understatement. It's more like a super-nice private club, complete with a pool table, televisions, a bar, and all manner of Arcos memorabilia on the walls.
Getting to know the guys, we learned all about their 35-year career as a very closely-knit family band that has been able to slide between Relampagos Del Norte-style Norteño and hardcore, foot-stomping Conjunto. Their first recording was in 1979 as Los Arcos Del Norte on Joey Records. Since then, they have recorded over 25 different albums, plus joint ventures with Toño Zamora, Crystal Tarango, and the late, great, legendary Cornelio Reyna.
After scoring major hits during the 1980s, including the classic slow jam, "El Borracho Del Año," tragedy struck the band in the early 1990s when drummer Juan Ramon Peña passed away after a very short bout with cancer. This shook the brothers to the core, and they took a hiatus for several years. They came roaring back in 1998 with the album, Sin Mi, and have continued to crank out studio albums and tour all over the United States. The band also includes big brother Luis Peña Jr. on bajo sexto, and vocalists Luis III and Oscar Peña.
The guys played the 2014 Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival, putting on a great show that longtime fans won't soon forget, headlining our Saturday night lineup. Aside from their stellar set, the evening included a killer cameo by Susan Torres, a jam session with our compadre Oscar Martinez of Compadresmusic.com (himself a longtime superfan of the group), and a very special cover of "Cuatro Caminos" with up-and-coming Tejano star, Austin's own Devin Banda.
This coming Saturday, June 21st, in Lubbock, Texas, Los Arcos Hermanos Peña are celebrating their 35th Anniversary in music with a BIG show at the Fiesta Center, featuring Los Dos Gilbertos, Erick y Su Grupo Massore, Infinito, Escorpion de Hidalgo and Los Viciosos. The all-ages event starts at 7p.m., and the cover is $25 per person between 6 and 8 p.m., and $35 after 8 p.m. Rancho Alegre will be there, along with Texas Folklife, LaLa's Productions, and Compadresmusic.com.
They are not only a great group of guys, but they're extraordinarily talented musicians as well. We know you'll enjoy getting to know them just as much as we did.