TUSCON – On a warm Arizona evening on February 28, Tejano Nation contributors Fanny Gurl and I had the pleasure of interviewing Relente 520 at their benefit dance at the historic El Casino Ballroom in Tuscon, Arizona.
Relente 520’s roots run deep in Tucson, the Tejano capital in the Southwest. A seven piece band consisting of lead vocalist Michael Gallegos, sax player Domingo Molina, bass player Manny Bermudez, accordionist Noel Jose, guitarist Phil Quijada, keyboardist Ralph Martinez, and the keeper of the beat drummer Bobby Soto, Jr. Also holding down the fort and keeping the boys in check is their manager and Martinez’s wife, Julie Martinez. She sets the schedules, books gigs, and picks out their clothes.
Gallegos is the newest member of the band, but is no stranger to Tejano. The lead vocalist is the son to legendary singer Adalberto Gallegos, lead singer for Latin Breed that helped the songs “Buenos Dias Amor” and “El Asesino” reach the top of the charts.
Fanny Gurl asked Gallegos what is it like being Adalberto’s son?
“I hope to be everything my dad is musically.” Gallegos responded. “I get nervous sometimes with him, but I am enjoying my time with him and I am collaborating some music with him.”
Hard to follow in his father’s footsteps but Gallegos is proving to be a his own artist.
Martinez, the original member of Relente 520, has a lot of history in Tejano. His father sang mariachi but he did not inherent good vocals but did play the trumpet. Growing up in Tucson, the musician’s family lived down the street from the Gallegos. Back in the 1960’s, the two families created the mariachi group Mariachi Chiquitos. As a youth, play time was practice time for Martinez with members Adalberto Gallegos playing guitar, Peter Gallegos (Adalberto’s brother) also on guitar, Richard Vidal shaking the maracas, who also created the name of the band. Martinez playing the Beulah and his sister Alice Martinez on the gutaron. Martinez was on his musical journey. In 1974, he joined another local legendary band, Love LTD and played 10 years with them.
Relente 520 has played for 10 years at the Tejano Music National Convention in Las Vegas. Having some laughs with the boys, I asked Domingo Molina where did the nickname “Sweet Lips” come from? According to him, the band named him “Sweet Lips” while getting ready for their performance at the TTMA’s last year, Shelly Lares (host of the TTMA’s ) introduced Molina as “Sweet Lips “and it stuck.
With Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair coming up in a few weeks, Relente 520, who has performed in San Antonio for 8 years, say they are eager to show Texas what a little twist of Relente 520 is like. The band’s TMA Fan Fair schedule is for Thursday at 5:30 pm on San Saba Stage North, Friday night at the VFW White House on the River Walk and Saturday at 1:30 on the Gateway Stage under the I-35 bridge.
Learn more about Relente 520 on their official Facebook page at Relente RalphJulie Martinez.
WATCH: Relente 520 performs at El Casino Ballroom
RELENTE 520 PHOTO GALLERY