La Feria News

Local Legend Jose “Joe” Sanchez Inducted into Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame

by Tony Vindell/LFN

After achieving recognition few realize in their lifetime, legendary La Feria accordion player Joe Sanchez says he’s ready to retire.

Sanchez was inducted to the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame this past July after a long and storied career as a conjunto musician.

“I have been playing the accordion since I was 15,” said the soon-to-be 65 year old man.

“I sort of retired a couple of months ago.”

Sanchez’ made the decision following the July announcement he was to be added to the hall of fame list.

“I am really proud for having being inducted,” he said.

“That was like the highlight of my conjunto years.”

Sanchez, who works in at the Neighborhood Doctor where his brother, Mario, is the physician, said he and Los Angeles del Sur conjunto band played twice at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., in 2002 and 2008.

Here in the Rio Grande Valley, he and his bandmates have entertained crowds at weddings, quinceaneras and numerous festivals over the years.

He says their trademark song has been Arboles de la Barranca, a song written by Jesus Ariel Barreras Soto, a musician and composer from Sinaloa, Mexico.

Sanchez said he learned to play the accordion from his father, Lorenzo.

“I picked up an accordian he had at home,” he said. “He taught me the first steps and I picked it up after that.”

Joe Sanchez Biography from the The 2019 Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum Awards Program

Special to La Feria News

Joe Sanchez is the accordionist, vocalist and founder of Los Angeles del Sur. Besides being employed by his brother’s medical practice, Joe has been in the music business for 48 years. He comes from a family of musicians going back to his grandfather.

Born in Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas on October 17, 1954, he came to La Feria, Texas during a time when older immigrant students who did not know English were placed back a couple of grades when they enrolled in school. In high school, Joe loved sports. He played football and ran track, but his eligibility ran out early as a consequence of the old enrollment rule. This affected his motivation to graduate.

The Sánchez family was originally involved in migrant fieldwork. During trips to work in the fields of the northern United States, Joe noticed how much the workers enjoyed dancing to the sound of button accordion. The music reflected his own roots in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Northern Mexico. Joe decided he wanted to play the accordion. He asked his father, Lorenzo Sánchez, to teach him. As he puts it, “We always had an accordion lying around the house.” He struggled to learn, because his father, Lorenzo, did not have much patience.

Joe’s initial experiences with local conjuntos sent him into the scene of the small cantina beer joints of the Rio Grande Valley. After five years playing with other bands, Joe formed his own band, Los Angeles del Sur, in 1976. Engagement venues became dance halls instead of cantinas, giving the band more public exposure. For many years Los Angeles was a family band.

One of the highlights of Joe’s career was having Los Angeles del Sur featured in Washington, DC as part of the Smithsonian’s Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Basin Project in 2002. He conducted conjunto workshops, and Los Angeles played for one of the dances. Los Angeles returned to Washington, DC in 2008 when they were invited to perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Joe Sánchez has become an ardent supporter of organizations promoting native conjunto music. He has received several awards for skills as a vocalist and accordionist. He has also participated in conjunto workshops with Region One Education Service Center in Edinburg. Over the years his band has been a regular performer at the conjunto festival for the Narciso Martínez Cultural Arts Center.

The music of accordionists Tony de la Rosa and Pedro Ayala have influenced what Joe Sánchez brings to the sound of Los Angeles del Sur.

We welcome Joe Sánchez of Los Angeles del Sur to the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame.

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One Comment

  1. Aurelio Rodriguez

    September 22, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Los Angeles del Sur has been one of our favorite Conjunto. Their style is very unique, that it fits to our dancing style. Great accordion style by Joe Sanchez gives you “Animo” to want to get up and dance.

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