By Al Carlos Hernandez
If you are a 1st or 2nd generation Tex Mex Chicano you already know that Johnny Hernandez is a southwestern musical icon.
He and his Brother Little Joe worked 24 years together under the name of Little Joe and the Latinaires, and Little Joe y La Familia. If you still don’t know and consider yourself an American OG Chicano and you have never danced a polka, then you are culturally deprived.
Johnny has recorded over 50 albums with Little Joe, and has won countless awards as duo of the year, single of the year, album of the year. In 2004 Johnny was inducted into the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame.
During best time of my life gonzo travels with the Familia back in the day I learned that, “Texas is a beautiful place, and Tejanos are a beautiful race” and now that most of the statues of limitations are over, I’ve been fortunate to track Johnny down again and am happy to know, he has a new album and his voice is stil l as smooth as a Sedan De Ville.
Johnny said recently, “I went solo in 1985 and have continued to record 8 Tejano albums and have toured with my own band. I’ve decided on this my 9th solo project to record an album in English, entitled This Time (Again).
The Title is taken from Johnny’s English crossover hit “This Time” recorded on the landmark, Little, Joe Johnny and La Famila Album Para La Gente, the album that featured the Tejano National Anthem, Las Nubes.
He said, “Except for 3 original songs, all of the selections are songs I grew up listing to when they were Top 40 hits or the underground radio blues. I was born in a predominately African American neighborhood grew up listing to artist like Nat King Cole, Big Joe Turner, Ivory Joe Hunter, The Moon glows, Chuck Willis Jimmy Reed, and even the Ink Spots. The singers who have influenced me the most are, Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Stevie, Jarreau, Michael McDonald and being from Texas big respect Roy Rogers the King of the Cowboys.”
“My impetus to sing on stage originally came from Jimmy Clanton. The Promoters would let me in to the Latinaires gigs free if I sat in with the band and sang “Just a Dream.”
Johnny has recently relocated to LA, as a base of operations in launching his English cross over effort.
He said, “LA is one of the Mecca cities of music in the world. I feel that my career can excel in the general market by networking and working closer with the music industry community. I’m really interested in exploring the Smooth Jazz genre.”
“The highlight of my solo career so far has been to open for Herb Reed of The Platters in Las Vegas; it was a dream come true for me as I consider the Platters the best vocal group of their era.”
“What I hope to accomplish with this new CD is to maintain the integrity of the original recordings of songs that have always really meant something to me, while giving each selection a modern sound with progres sive cord structures embellished by today’s studio technologies. On Just a Dream I stayed as close to the original arrangement as possible, I feel people will appreciate the sincerity of the artistic effort.”
“I positioned the smooth Jazz/contemporary blues/fifties oldies song line up the same way I would while performing live. Start off with an up tempo upbeat dance tune, then slow the pace down, pick it up again, work towards the exciting big finish. We purposely recorded the songs a little longer than normal, so as to keep the groove going while people dance at family gatherings, parties, weddings quincenieras, etc. Sweet Home Chicago is getting major airplay and it’s really an English CD, but when I heard “Todo Me Gusta De Ti” it sounded like a Santana song that would give me the big finish I was looking for.”
Look for it indeed, Johnny Hernandez is one of the true real artists of our times, he has given his life to music, he sings from the heart, he is a man wi th a sweet soul, and if you don’t know, you need to ask somebody and if they don’t know go out and buy the CD, then ya’ll will find out what all the buzz is about.
Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.