SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Texas has no shortage of musical groups influenced by the norteño and conjunto music that evolved along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Los Pistoleros de Texas one-ups those groups by throwing another border into the mix: the Texas-Louisiana border. The band stirs up a spicy, accordion-driven gumbo that combines the border’s traditional Tex-Mex sounds with the Gulf Coast zydeco, country and blues prevalent in its hometown of Houston.
That diverse musical approach drew enthusiastic applause at the recent 2010 San Antonio International Accordion Festival, where Los Pistoleros performed in October. It’s also helped the band attract fans from across musical genres, leader Roberto Rodriguez explained.
“We get to play all over Houston,” said Rodriguez, who sings and plays accordion. “We do festivals, we do clubs, we do parties and private events. We’ve opened for country bands, punk bands, norteño bands and ska bands. That’s what I like about our blend of music. We can do anything, play anywhere.”
During the festival, Rodriguez led Los Pistoleros through conjunto-flavored versions of country classics, including Buck Owens’ “Open Up Your Heart.” Band mate Ruben Moreno, who alternated between accordion and washboard, took over vocals on several zydeco numbers sung in Creole, a mixture of French, African and Cajun dialects.
The band’s eclectic sound stems from its members’ diverse backgrounds, Rodriguez said. Leonel Rojas, a native of Mexico, sings and plays the bajo sexto, a guitar-like instrument used in traditional Mexican music; bassist Jack Shultz has experience performing in traditional country bands; and drummer Rajiv Grover cut his musical teeth playing punk rock.
“When we write songs, those influences come from within all of us,” Rodriguez said. “It all comes from the heart.”
Los Pistoleros recently gained an even higher profile in its Houston hometown when it opened for Texas Tornadoes, the Tex-Mex super-group featuring San Antonio’s Flaco Jimenez and Augie Meyers.
The band also is hard at work on its first CD, due out early next year. Rodriguez said the recording will please fans of music from both Texas’ southern and eastern borders.
“We love all of those styles,” he said. “Because we’ve got so many influences, we can fit anywhere, and that’s the way we like it.”