AUSTIN, TX — Austin Conjunto music legend “El Montopolis Kid” Johnny Degollado has released his latest album, Musica Al Estilo de Camilo, an instrumental tribute to his mentor Camilo Cantu on Austin-based Rancho Alegre Records.
The album, recorded with engineer Nico Leophonte at Al Nico Recording Studio, seeks to answer a question Austin music buffs have been asking for decades: “What did Camilo Cantu sound like?” Although Cantu never recorded and retired relatively early in his life to repair accordions, his influence on the next generation of Austin accordionists is undeniable with Degollado being his most notable protege.
Musica Al Estilo de Camilo is a step back in time to Cantu’s heyday, 1940s Austin when people would flock to an outdoor dance venue called La Polkita in Del Valle, southeast of Austin. La Polkita is also where a young Johnny Degollado would go watch Cantu get the crowd on their feet and catch a glimpse of his future on the squeezebox.
In these ten songs, Degollado has interpreted classic compositions in the style of Cantu, employing the same tricks and techniques that Cantu taught him over six decades ago. These songs were composed by Cantu’s contemporaries Pedro Ayala, Don Santiago Jimenez, and Narciso Martinez, all of whom are considered true pioneers of Conjunto music. Additionally, there are two songs composed by fellow Austin legend Jose “Joe” Reyna, along with several Degollado originals.
To further evoke the old-style Conjunto of the era, the album is 100% instrumental and stripped down to the bare bones of just Degollado on accordion accompanied by veteran musician JJ Barrera on bajo sexto.
Johnny and JJ are scheduled to perform at the 7th Annual Rancho Alegre Conjunto Music Festival in Austin. The festival runs from April 29 to May 1, 2022. For the complete lineup, visit ranchoalegre.org.
Musica Al Estilo de Camilo is available on all digital streaming platforms and CD at https://shop.ranchoalegre.org. The mural on the cover is located on the north side of Stubb’s at 9th and Red River and is used with permission from Austin artist Tim Kerr.
About Johnny Degollado
Johnny Degollado is a bonafide Austin music legend and prolific songwriter. From first learning from Camilo Cantu in the 1940s and beginning his professional musical career in the early 1950s to presenting Austin’s only Conjunto festival for several decades, “El Montopolis Kid” has been a tireless advocate for Conjunto music in his hometown. He was inducted into the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame in San Antonio in 2014 and has recorded nearly 500 songs over his career, including many of his own compositions. One of his most famous songs, “El Pintor,” became a massive hit for The Hometown Boys and remains one of the most frequently played songs on Tejano music radio.
About Rancho Alegre Records
Rancho Alegre Records is a project of Austin-based Rancho Alegre, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Conjunto music. Projects include digitizing analog recordings, interviewing legendary and up-and-coming artists, maintaining and constructing a historical record of Tejano and Conjunto music, connecting artists with professional and business services and resources, and presenting the annual Rancho Alegre Conjunto Music Festival and various events throughout the year. Further information about the organization’s year-round projects is available at https://www.ranchoalegre.org or the free Rancho Alegre mobile app. Music and other merchandise are available for sale online at https://shop.ranchoalegre.org.
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