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Los Fantasmas del Valle searching for next accordionist

Who will be the next accordionist for the legendary conjunto?

Los Fantasmas del Valle | Photo credit: Mariaelena Villarreal / Tejano Nation

MERCEDES, TX — Los Fantasmas del Valle are no strangers on the block to the Conjunto music scene. For over 58 years Hector Barron Sr., bass player, primera voz and founder of the group from Mercedes, Texas, has given music fans from all over Texas and the United States countless reasons to love their music with a distinct sound and style, and of course that unique accordion sound that only the Fantasmas can bring.

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Los Fantasmas del Valle have a huge following and fill up dance halls all over Texas with their upbeat “alegre” style. The band’s current members include Barron Sr. (founder, primera voz), Bobby Salinas (bajo quinto, segunda voz), Gabriel Avalos (accordion), Benny Fonseca (bass), Rene Luna Sr. (drums), and Hector Barron Jr. (vocals, percussion).

On Monday, January 30, Lupe Saenz, founder and President of The South Texas Conjunto Association, announced on his Facebook page that “Hector Barron, director de Los Fantasmas del Valle, announced the recruitment of a new accordionist.”

I wanted to personally verify that this information was true and get all the details directly from Hector Sr. and I also wanted to get proper details to share the news with any accordionists that might want to apply for this position. Hector Barron Sr. confirmed, clarified, and explained that the post was in fact true. Currently, their accordionist, Gabriel Avalos of Kyle, Texas, will remain in the band for the remainder of the year (11 months at the time of this writing) to allow the band to find a proper replacement. The two are parting ways due to personal reasons that Hector does not want to speak further on; Tejano Nation will respect his wishes. This accordion opening will be somewhat difficult to fill as the Fantasma’s style is very unique. Although there have been some changes to the roster in the past, the integrity of the band’s style remains intact.

When I asked Hector what he was looking for in the new accordionist, he expressed that he really wanted someone who lived in the Rio Grande Valley, as it would make things easier for rehearsing together with the band. When age, experience, and style were talked about, Mr. Barron at first said he preferred an older accordionist. However, when I asked him about the possibility of hiring a younger gentleman, perhaps with a lot of potential and the desire to learn, he said, “If they can learn our style in 11 months and they like our music, then yes of course!”

All interested accordionists may upload a video of themselves playing a Fantasma song and send it via Facebook to Hector Barron Sr. , or send a message to Lupe Saenz.

Photos courtesy of Mariaelena Villarreal of Tejano Nation and Lupito’s Photography

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