Monday, 21 December 2009 15:06

June P Garcia: still rocking conjunto world

(June P. Garcia is one of those undiscovered treasures down in the Rio Grande Valley, Garcia is profiled in this report from correspondent Rene Cabrera.)

By Rene Cabrera
(Special to

By his count, June P. Garcia (pronounced Ju-Neh Peh), has been in the business of making conjunto music for 45 years. Although he may be a stranger to those whose connection

 with conjunto depends on radio, to others, June P. Garcia y Conjunto Madrigal are not only well known, but sought after to provide their fidi-fidi. Over the years the bajo sexto guitarist/vocalist who lives in Taft, a tiny burg near Corpus Christi, has offered up his form of entertainment to fans throughout Texas and beyond, to Oklahoma, Michigan and other states. 

Lately, however, Garcia has scaled back to give more time to family issues.

“I retired somewhat for a lot of reasons, mostly to be closer to home,” he said. “But I am still active. We don’t go out of town as we once did, but we work venues around Corpus to keep things going.” And he still produces recordings for Hacienda Records.

The latest chapter in this conjunto artist’s recording career is the release of a collection of gospel/inspirational tunes for Hacienda Records called “Cristo Vive En Mi.” 

Released in November, the album is a collection of tunes that express faith in the divinity and that provide doses of inspiration. There are no bells and whistles here, just music for those times when it’s necessary to look within, take stock and perhaps consider making some mid-term corrections.

Garcia calls it a gospel album, and it has some of that, but the best cuts in the album are about personal spirituality, done in lively polka time.

For instance, in “Que Vas Hacer,” written by Garcia, the message is that non-compliance with the commandments could be a problem that may result in a face-to-face meeting with Lucifer himself. In the title tune the message is that it’s easier to claim to be a Christian than to actually walk the walk; while in “Mundo Malo” the writer begs forgiveness for having sinned by partaking of earthly temptations. In “Peticion De Una Madre” Garcia steps it down to waltz tempo with lyrics that speak of a mother’s answered prayers.  

Arguably the best cut in this album is “Un Dia A La Vez,” the Spanish version of Kristofferson’s “One Day At A Time.” When asked why he added that particular piece, Garcia said, “I have always loved that tune. Every time I heard it, I told myself that “Un Dia A La Vez” is a song that I would love to record. I guess I did that one for myself.”  With that, Garcia becomes the latest to record a song that has been a hit on country and pop charts and has been recorded hundreds of times by as many artists. 

Imagine, this conjunto has been performing for five years short of half a century. It’s probably safe to say that the group has survived through fan support and sheer perseverance.  But the conjunto had to have a product that appealed to fans over the years. And this year, June P. Garcia receives some long overdue recognition along with Los Pavos Reales by being inducted into the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame.

The actual induction takes place at the VFW in Alice on Friday, Jan. 29, but other Roots events are also scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010.