The Conjunto Conservation Society
Exclusive interview con el grupo PICANTE., 2011.
Topeka, Kansas. Wow folks how many famous tejano artist live on the same block in Topeka? Chingos. Hi my name is Santa Cecilia la que canta con our on the road again interview. While I was in Topeka my creator, Daniel decided for me to visit El Grupo Picante, Papo Vargas . Let us get to that interview down on Swerd Ave.
Sc; GEE it was hack of a ride down her, can you please help me sit down ?
Papo: No Problem, Here sit on this Lawn Chair. Legend has it My Prima Dorothy sat here. You know Dorothy was Latina right?? Who else would wear a Blue Dress With Red Shoes.??
SC: ok ,let’s start con a little background de groupo Picante?
Papo: Well we have been together as a group for 6 years. We have recorded 2
albums in the past 4 years and we are in Pre-Production for our 3rd. My dad
Jr. Vargas has been playing in the Topeka, and Kansas City area for over
30yrs mostly as a Lead Vocalist. He is our Leader and Manager. Anthony Arce
who is our keyboard and Accordion player as well as his brother Rene Arce our
Drummer, have also played in these parts for over 30 years. These 3 have
played in bands together. But in 2005 I had a sudden desire to play Tejano
Music with my dad. So he showed me how to play the Bass Guitar, and we had a
Cojunto Band in a matter of weeks as we asked the Arce brothers to join us.
My Nephew Cruz who was 10 years old at the time, also wanted to join the
Group as a Singer. My dad said why not. The opportunity for a musician to
play with his Son and Grandson on stage night in and night out was to good to
pass up. Adrian Arce who is the Youngest Arce Brother is our Sound Engineer.
So you can see we are all family. Very Tight...
SC: wow that is heavy,gee sir how many conjunto can there be here in Topeka?
Papo: I think there are like 4 groups in the area, which is awsome I think Each group has their own style and that goes good in this area. You have alot events that attract Young and Old. So they like to hear a Mixture of Cojunto,
Cumbia, Brass, Country, etc etc....
SC: how difficult is it to get gigs up here?
Papo: 4. Well in this area you dont have much activity for whatever reason
between Oct-April Its kinda slow. I mean New Years and Valentines Day are
always good for us. The Summers are always busy. There are alot of
surrounding towns that have Fiestas for their Church or Cinco De Mayo
Celebrations that we seem to get booked for on a Annual Basis. Gracias
Adios!!! We stay busy enough for our satisfaction. I mean we would love to
play more, But we all have day jobs and high school that occupy the majority
of our time.
SC: I was listening to Baile y Baile tune and give me the impression que you guys taken la cumbia to another level?
Papo: I dont know about another level. but thank you. We just wanted to put
out a Danceable song that featured our 3 vocalists, our accordion which
heavily influnces our band, and our basic attitude and energy we bring to
every song. It was a song i had bopping in my head before Picante was even
formed. Its got a lil Motown influence in there. So when it was time for our
1st original song. That was what we created. That song has opened so many
doors for us. And it seems to do well where ever we go......
SC: what makes your band different from other tejano bands?
Papo; 6. Well first off we are very disciplined in our approach and our
Performances. We pratice twice a week for 2hrs and thats been that way since
we started the group. And our dedication to our audiance as well. They
deserve our very best. Whatever they are dancing to, or whatever they seem to
be enjoying is what they get. I remember in KC one time we played a 3 hour
gig and were asked no cumbias. So we gave em what they wanted..... Also our
diverse sets. You will hear traditional songs sung by my dad Jr. like Puno de
Tierra, Cruz de Madera, Devorame Otra Vez, followed by popular cumbias A
Mover el Bote/ Baila y Baila, sung by Cruz. You will hear Polkitas and Some
Country ballads too. We Try to appeal to every crowd and leave them wanting
mucho mucho mas.... Kinda like that Hot Chile that you cant stop eating
because its sooooo good. And on that note,,,,, I would also like to add that
im sure no other Tejano band loves Menudo like we do. We go to every town we
play in always looking for Menudo. And Believe it or not, We have good Menudo
up here. We challenge any Grupo to put down more menudo than us. That
probably makes us different. We should be on Band vs Food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SC: I see your band has a real young man that sings for you all, I noticed in some pictures he wears a white glove?
Papo: 7. Yeah Cruz, Man he has embraced being a Young Tejano Singer. He
understands that its ok to express yourself and be an individual who is in
touch with their talents. He wanted to Paint His Face. I told him About Kiss
in the 1970's. And then when he saw Big Circo Video's he didnt talk to me for
a week. So he decided to do a White Glove.....I didnt say a word. He
eventually threw it into a crowd in Lawrence Ks.....Glove No mas.
SC: how difficult can it be on your band members leave home and away from their families?
Papo: 8. We have never had that probelm. Our Families endless support of our
group is the most important ingredient to our success. They have followed us
as far as San Antonio to give us love and confidence. Without them there is
no Picante. When we are away from them it’s only for a weekend max. And I’m
sure they were happy to get rid of us for a weekend every once in a while.
SC: I bet, what is in the future for Picante?
PD: Hopefully God Willing, we continue to play as long as the good Lord
Bless us. We have started on our Pre-Production of our 3rd CD. It might be
"Live" or another Studio Recording. The Sudio we did our first two with is no
longer in Buisness. We have a Decent amount of jobs lined up for 2011, and we
have picked up 2 more this week. We are planning a return trip to Fan Fair in
2012 with our new CD. We have been absent from there for 2 years ending a 4
SC: what other tejano bands have you jammed with ?
PD: Recently we shared the stage with Gary Hobbs here in Topeka, and Kansas
City. Also add Los Deperadoz, Grupo Vida, Avizo, DLG, Jay Perez, Stefani
Montiel, Patsy Torres, Ambixion, Chente, Grupo Badd. We also had a Bad Ass
Jam Session with Los Amables here for our Accordion Players wedding.
SC; that heck of line up,do you guys know la familia Ruiz de Topeka?
PD:Oh yes. We know them very well. We have worked with Ronald and Romy numerous times, And we know all the great work Sara does with the Tejano Convention along with David. And Richard was a local legend on the Chicano/ Tejano music scene. he is missed very much....... I was worried you were going to ask me if i know Fred Phelps!! No I dont but I do see him 3 times a week......Texas Has Micheal Phelps and Topeka Has Fred!!!!!!!!!!!!! Frijole!!!!!!!!!
SC: yes I miss my uncle Richard also. Ok I like that Frijole,,,How is it possible for all you guys living so close together to other bands in Topeka?
Papo: It just goes to show that Chicano/ Tejano/ Cojunto music has
traveled well past the Border of Mexico and the heart of Texas. Its Influence
shows in our community and others in our Area and all over the midwest. Its
great that this many musicians have a platform to play the music that flows
through our veins.
SC; is there anything you guys would like to share with your fan base from around the world?
Papo: Just thanks for all the support. Thanks for allowing us to live out
our dreams. We always look forward to meeting our fans. So please introduce
yourself. We always have room in our lives for more friends. And also that
just because we are from Topeka Kansas, We are not just a "Local Group" as we
are repeatedly referred to. We are a Tejano Group based out of Topeka, Ks.
SC: and finally what encouraging words would you use if given the chance to speak to a group of young people?
Papo: Put God First, Family Second, and you can do anything you put your mind to. The World meets no one Half way, and Believe in yourself or no one will ever believe in you.....And my Favorite " You May have won the battle, but the early bird got the worm."
SC: that was very well put. well guys thanks again, can you show me where I can purchase a used bicycle? Esta about walking takes its toll on my feet:”
Papo: Orale, There is a Pawn Shop "Alla En La Esquina" . Ignore the Camera Crew, They are probably filming that new reality show "Brown Pawn". Give them this Jar of Picante, tell them I sent you, and they will hook you up with a Cherry Red Beach Crusier with a banana seat for your long journey home. Come Visit me again. We can go for menudo!!!!!!! Give Blanca A Hug Para mi!!!!!!!!!
SC; I sure will if we ever find here. as I ride into the sunset from the land oz, la onda tejana is alive and doing well , on my Midwestern spring tour, I am Santa Cecilia. Good day,
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