After what seems like a lifetime of music from this artist, Frank “Panchito” Hernandez has entertained us all with his original songs, smooth singing, and bajo chords for the past 30 years. Having completed recording with Ruben De La Cruz Y Su Conjunto on their latest album Me Enamore Otra Vez, released in February 2020 by record label Hacienda International LLC, I had the chance to finally talk to him about his life and music career.
Born in 1973 in Dale City, Florida, Frank Hernandez began playing at the age of 17 years old, inspired by his father, Cruz Hernandez Sr., and taught by Ramon Delgado (accordionist SB).
Currently residing in San Benito, Texas, Frank works full-time for the San Benito Independent School District. He has played alongside the likes of the great Ruben Vela, Enrique “Flaco” Naranjo, Los Estrellas De Oro, Frutty Villarreal, and many more.
In 1999, Frank joined Ruben De La Cruz and has since been Ruben’s right hand man, playing the bajo sexto, composing and recording original songs, and also singing. He has amassed a strong fan base of loyal followers, undoubtedly highly respected by other musicians in the industry, and a compilation of many original songs written by him and appearing on many different albums.
The title track from the group’s latest album, Me Enamore Otra Vez, is an original song composed by Frank along with two other songs on the album, “Asi Es” and “Vuelve Mi Vida,” a catchy upbeat cumbia.
Frank names Conjunto Bernal, Tony De La Rosa, and Ruben Vela as some of his favorite artists, all three different in style. On most weekends in the Valley or other parts of surrounding Texas cities, you can more than likely catch a live show from Ruben De La Cruz Y Su Conjunto, and watch Frank play many familiar tunes on his Macias bajo sexto, which Frank says is his preferred bajo to play because of its cool sound.
I asked Frank if no one knew who he was and they had never met him how would he describe himself to people. “Humble, family oriented, and outgoing,” he said. “I can play bass, accordion, and bajo and I have been playing for over 30 years. A musician that dares to take it to another level and thinks outside of the box and uses life itself, reality and other people as an inspiration for all my original songs. I am more than just Conjunto music, I want more than just Conjunto music”.
Over 50 self composed original songs, many of them appearing on different albums, Frank Hernandez continues to prove that after 30 years in the music industry you can still be relevant and fresh.
A 2012 South Texas Conjunto Association winner of Bajo player of the year, as well as 2018 Composer of the year, Frank says he does not consider his music as a career. Covid-19 has prevented him from playing as usual because of safety concerns and he continues to work his regular fulltime job in San Benito.
Over three decades of memories, music and life, Frank Hernandez gives thanks to the Lord that he is blessed with everything he needs. He is grateful for every opportunity that has came and continues to come his way. “Your grace is amazing as I grow stronger, my faith grows deeper, He has brought me peace with my past, purpose to my present and hope to my future,” he said. “To the whole world in everything, I give thanks, for it is the will of God to all circumstances with no expectations.”
With no plans of making his own band, what does the future hold for this talented musician and what is the most memorable part of his long career? “I will play again eventually,” he said. “Most memorable part of my long career of playing with Ruben De La Cruz and Ruben Vela is and was the beginning, moving forward and not knowing where you end”.
I have attended many events where RDLCYSC have performed and just like any other fan you can’t help but dance, sing along and anticipate the new releases they continue to churn out. I wanted to write this article on Frank because I thought it very unbelievable that a man can spend three decades in the Conjunto music industry and never have one single article written about him. Your dedication and talent does not go unnoticed. Thank you “Panchito” and family for your time and participation with myself and Tejano Nation.
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