The legendary Chicano Tejano Band, Tortilla Factory had emerged in the early ’70s. Tortilla Factory’s style can be described as a blend of American and old Mexican ranchera’s incorporated with that Tortilla Factory flavor.
The band’s current leader is Alfredo Antonio Guerrero, who took over for his father, Tony “Ham” Guerrero, after his death in January 2011. Alfredo spoke to Tejano Nation contributor DJ Peaches about an upcoming tribute album to the original Tortilla Factory and spoke about the next generation of the band featuring new co-lead vocalist Lia G.
Alfredo Guerrero reminisced about Bobby Butler. Bobby is one of the most unique performers from the Texas Chicano music scene, he was the first African American singer to become an international star in this genre. It was in the cotton fields in Arkansas, working side-by-side with Mexican laborers that Butler learned to sing in Spanish. He didn’t understand the words they were singing, but the emotions they conveyed were clear. He was also a gifted composer as well. His stage apparel included his beautiful Mariachi and Charro suits that are tailor-made for him. El Charro Negro was pivotal in helping to break racial barriers in music and in communities throughout the U.S. during the 1960s and ’70s. He’s a three-time Grammy Award nominee and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Tejano Hall of Fame.
Tony “Ham” Guerrero born in El Barrio Bulto in San Angelo, Texas in 1944. Guerrero started playing the trumpet when he was in the fifth grade. Guerrero studied at the Berklee School of Jazz in Boston, then Guerrero relocated to San Francisco where he continued to play jazz and salsa. In 1965, Guerrero formed his own orchestra in Oakland CA. It was in California where he was exposed to Tejano music. Then in 1968, he accepted the position as lead trumpet for Little Joe, the Latinaires ( renamed La Familia in 1970 ) for the next 5 years. Guerrero arranged horn parts for the Latinaires’ ten-piece orquesta based out of Temple, Texas. Guerrero helped craft a new sound for La Familia that merged American swing, jazz, and rock, with Mexican ranchero music in their successful 1972 album “Para la Gente.” Included in the album is the song “Las Nubes” (Clouds) that became a Chicano movement anthem. Despite the success of Para La Gente, In 1972 La Familia turned into the Tortilla Factory after a falling out with Little Joe. How the name of the Tortilla Factory was thought of as told by Alfredo Guerrero is a hilarious story for generations. ( See the interview below ) Guerrero is a two-time Grammy Award Nominee.
Alfredo Guerrero also announced the new lead singer, Lia Gallardo from Burbank, Californa. Lia grew up in a musically rich family, where her grandparents were singers and her mother a Tropicana dancer and singer. Music has always been a part of Lia’s life and her idol was late Latin music icon Selena. Lia is a professional singer and has worked with well known artists such as Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin and more.
The Tribute Album to El Charro Negro and Tony “Ham” Guerrero will be due out by the end of December. It will bring back a lot of the memories, digging in the classics.
Listen to the funny, informative interview below. A huge thank you to Alfredo Guerrero, it was like catching up with a good friend.
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INTERVIEW: Alfredo Guerrero of Tortilla Factory
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