Alumni Letter: George Corrales
(Changuitos Feos 1968-1972)
From: "George Corrales" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: George Corrales - Former Chango
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003 14:58:55 -0700
Great web site, and thanks for keeping the legacy and the tradition of the "changos" alive. Me -- I'm living in Southern California and have been since '83. I'm married (wife's name is Ann-Marie) and I have a daughter (Lia) in college. Like many ex-changos with whom I was a co-member, I'm still playing and writing a lot of music. (My group's name is "Mas Cafe", and you can visit us on the web at http://www.mascafeband.com ) My main gig though is as president and owner of Interlogica, a technical publishing company in Carlsbad, California (http://www.interlogica.com).
Although I enjoyed my years playing mariachi music with the changos (1968-1972) and Mariachi Cobre (1971-1972), I always really loved playing rock, jazz, and Tex-Mex. Some of you may recall some of my former bands in Tucson -- Myles Hy, and The Back Street Band.
In short, my history is this: I graduated from Sunnyside High School in 1972. I was with the so-called "second generation" of the changos, from 1968 to 1972, and I was Group Leader from 1971 to 1972. From '71 to '72, I was also one of the original members of Mariachi Cobre. I went to Boston University in the fall of 1972 and graduated in 1976. I returned to Tucson, continued playing music (Myles Hy, Back Street Band, and others), and I worked for the City of Tucson. In 1983 I moved to California. (Just needed the change I guess.) There I met and married Ann-Marie. In 1984, my daughter Lia was born. I live in the very beautiful coastal city of Carlsbad, California, and all I can say is that I love it here. I miss Tucson now and then, but this is home now.
If I have to talk about the greatest experiences in my life, the Changos are front and center. I learned so much, and all of what I learned lives and breathes in me today. The Changos instilled so many things in all of us: pride, confidence, discipline, perseverence, leadership .. I can go on and on. But the bottom line with the Changos for me today involves the memories. Not only did we have fun, we worked hard, and we developed deep friendships.
Of all, I remember Paul Romo. He is one of the few, among other unsung heros, that had a lot to do with this giant phenomenon that mariachi music has become. He deserves a plentiful mention in the history of mariachi music in Tucson. From a very young age, Paul was the sole young thinker, the scholar, the lone arranger/composer (besides Mr. Pepin) who challenged us (both the Changos and Mariachi Cobre) to elevate mariachi music from the "cantina" to the "concert hall".
Paul always took a ribbing for being so serious. Some even called him "the old man" eventhough he was 17-18. But, only Paul knew how to color the sound with what he knew was its true essence: French Baroque and Classical. Paul inspired others with his thinking and his arrangements. Sometimes we found it hard to argue with those who wanted us to "play it just like the record," but he planted the seed in us and we moved beyond being "the typical mariachi."
There were a lot of other stand-outs among the Changos back then, but Paul stood alone in his perseverence and inspiration: where the others simply advocated being polished and professional (and of course "typical"), Paul was unique in his great understanding of the music, the instrumentation, and all of the possibilities.
Now, I've not heard the latest crop of "changos", and frankly, I'm not interested if the group sounds "just like the record". If that's the case, here's what I have to say: look to your predecessors and to your legacy. Think of Paul. Honor him. Learn what he tried to teach us. Take the seed. Push the envelope. Learn what the instrumentation can do. Don't be afraid to experiment. Study the Mozart fugue. Incorporate it. Learn to WRITE music, not just read it. Brainstorm. Think different. Don't be afraid: throw in a cello, throw in a flueglehorn or a piccolo trumpet. How about a jazz riff here, a Tex-Mex riff there. If you think I'M crazy, you haven't spent enough time studying what I think is the best mariachi in the world -- Los Camperos. (But even they can be surpassed!)
Ask yourselves, who's going to take it to the next level? Mariachi Cobre did. Adalberto Gallegos did. But now it's time to go beyond that. Think about it. The Changos were the first true youth mariachi in Tucson. Your challenge today is to be the PREMIERE youth mariachi. Distinguish yourselves. Explore the nuances and the possibilities. Go beyond being a copy. Remember. The instruments and the trajes make the mariachi, but the music is all yours. So, no matter what you play or how you play it, it's always going to be mariachi music. Why? Because you're a mariachi. .
Ok. Off the soap box. Keep up the good work. Oh, and as an FYI: I'm in constant touch with several of the "old" changos, especially Wilfred Arvizu and (occassionally) Adalberto Gallegos. I have a lot of stories and a lot of pictures. If you're interested, let me know.
Los Changuitos Feos (1968-1972)
Published: September 26, 2005