HISPANIC HERITAGE SERIES I of VI
Editor’s note: In an emotional announcement made by Rick Garcia on Saturday, their venue affectionately known as Rick’s Tavern, will soon close their doors at 68th and Lowell. The building is up for sale and the ongoing live music (Tex-Mex, Tejano-Nuevo Mexicano) provided by the Rick Garcia Band at the tavern week after week will soon be only a memory. Born in Slayton, Texas, Garcia has been providing Tex-Mex music to Coloradans since 1970. This style of music, found nowhere else on earth, has shaped the history of music in the southwest and specifically in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Also, due to health reasons Garcia is concentrating on recording his music, yet still providing entertainment at events. A tribute written below by one of his may fans, David Conde.
I tend to identify with Rick García in part because of our mutual roots and mutual love of the Tejano big band sound. We both came out of south Texas with the same urge for survival by being part of the migrant labor groups that spread across the country every spring to work the crops and harvest the food on American tables.
We both took the love of our music with us to the new lands we visited and settled. That music is the Tejano-Nuevo Mexicano genre that ideally echoes the instrumental sound of the World War II big swing bands that was converted to the homeland variety provided by such greats as Sunny Ozuna, Little Joe, Isidro López, Freddy Martinez, Rubén Ramos and Al Hurricane Sánchez.
That sound was adopted by the Chicano Movement and that loyalty was answered in 1970 when Little Joe changed the name of his group from Little Joe and the Latinaires to Little Joe y La Familia and the song “Las Nubes” became one of the national anthems of the Latino struggle for justice. To this day, this song sends chills up my spine as its powerful challenge resonates as a call for discipline of our body and soul.
This is the music world that Rick García is committed to nurturing, maintaining and advancing for the benefit of our enjoyment and that of future generations. His club on the Lowell Blvd. was a beacon for those in the Latino community who sought to listen and dance to the Tejano-Nuevo Mexicano música.
García came to Colorado in 1970 and went to work playing his favorite music at Don Sandoval’s Rock Tower and Bull Ring, Geno’s and the Mile High Lounge. Eventually he became an owner of the Red Curtain, Rick’s Place, García’s Ice House and currently, Rick’s Tavern.
In May 2011, United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and two-time Grammy Award winner Rubén Ramos presented an award to García for “keeping Tejano and New Mexico music alive in Denver.” An aficionado who is a political leader, an international celebrity and a colleague — they recognized the significance of this genre of music and they acknowledged the role that García plays in ensuring that the music continues.
García is a highly talented and respected musician with unparalleled vocal ability, stage presence and audience interaction. For four decades, he has entertained in Denver and the state of Colorado with his signature blend of Tejano and New Mexico music that transcends cultural boundaries and appeals to diverse audiences of all ethnicities.”
The World War II legacy left by Latino veterans that brought back with them American swing and the big band sounds to then have them converted to the beautiful music that is Tejano and Nuevo Mexicano music deserves to be nurtured and advanced.
Soon, Garcia is moving beyond his venue at 68th and Lowell to a world of recording Tex-Mex music insuring memories for his followers, forever. A change in address perhaps, but the music continues.
“In my opinion, Tejano-Nuevo México music will never die. Music played by Tobias Rene and Gonzalo from New Mexico keep that music alive as well as bands from Colorado like Sangre Nueva and John Maes. I’ve been in Denver since the 70’s and my thanks go out to people like George Sandoval (KDVR’s former General Manager) as well as media folks like Jeanne Olguin with 9NEWS and Beverly Martinez with KWGN,” Garcia said. “I recall Beverly dancing with Blinky the Clown (recently deceased) to a waltz we played back then.”
Bandleader Rick Garcia and members Ralph Trujillo, Joe Sanchez, John Garcia and Manuel Mares begin work on a recording project with a release due sometime in 2013. For event bookings call 720-855-8166 or email