Ohio & Michigan's Oldest and Largest Latino / Hispanic Newspaper

Since 1989




    media kit    ad specs    classified ad rates    about us    contact us


Conjunto Crossroads: Ohioan Jimmy Bejarano Sr. inducted into Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame
By Kevin Milliken, Special to La Prensa

May 16, 2011: If ever there is a good time for a musician to retire, it’s while he is still on top.

Fresh from being named to the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame on Thursday, May 12, 2011, Santiago “Jimmy” Limón Bejarano, Sr. of Fremont, Ohio is hanging up his accordion after more than five decades at the helm of a number of bands, including the latest incarnation of Los Cuatro Vientos (The Four Winds), one of conjunto music’s groundbreaking and trendsetting bands.

click on photo to enlarge

Jimmy Bejarano Sr. performs with sons Jimmy Jr. and Rubén Bejarano on May 12, 2011 in San Antonio

Photos by Celso Rodriguez

“It feels real good,” said Bejarano, while returning to Ohio from the festivities in San Antonio. “It really felt good sharing that with my two sons [Jimmy Jr. and Rubén].”

“I was speechless. I had tears in my eyes,” echoed Jimmy Jr. of his father’s induction. Bejarano becomes just the second musician outside of Texas to join the hall of fame. There are 65 inductees overall.

Los Cuatro Vientos gave one of its final performances last week during the Hall of Fame Induction Gala at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas. Bejarano was inducted into the hall of fame at the same ceremony, which preceded the 30th annual Tejano Conjunto Festival held this past weekend.

San Antonio radio station KEDA, 1540AM, also celebrated its 45th anniversary in March, and invited Bejarano and his band to come perform there. It turns out that was the last public concert Los Cuatro Vientos played.

TejanoFM.com will honor Bejarano on May 29

There are just two more performances on the band’s schedule: a private wedding reception next month, and an annual Tejano music festival at Centennial Terrace in Sylvania, Ohio during Memorial Day weekend. That performance on Sunday, May 29, 2011 will be broadcast live on the Internet at www.tejanofm.com

Conjunto is the more traditional music genre of the two, which usually features musical acts consisting of an accordion, bajo sexto (12-string guitar), bass guitar, and drums. Tejano music can involve a wider range of instruments beyond those four, including keyboards, electric guitars, and electronic drums, as well as saxophones and trumpets.

Bejarano’s retirement greatly affects his family’s future, too—because sons Jimmy, Jr. (bajo sexto) and Rubén (drums) also play in the band. In fact, Jimmy, Jr. has played the 12-string guitar alongside his father for more than 35 years. Rubén just marked 25 years with the band.

“We know what to do, we don’t get mad at each other,” the older Bejarano said of playing music all those years with his two sons. Jimmy Sr. and his wife also have a 46-year old daughter Sonia. “We just do our thing. We never get into any fights. It’s real nice.”

“I’ve worked with some other pioneer musicians and I’ve had opportunities to leave,” said Jimmy Jr., who chose to keep the family band intact all of these years. “I made a promise that as long as my dad wanted to work with me, I would work with him.”

11 releases since 1994

But Los Cuatro Vientos only began recording its music in 1994, piling up eleven CD’s since then. Jimmy Jr. explained the group’s first recordings came out on cassette, as they tried to put out one every year. Their aim was to make their recordings sound just like the group does live in concert.

“We just get together and jam,” said Jimmy Sr. “I loved to play. We just play stuff we like. Our boys don’t drink, are not into drugs. They love music. So that’s what we do. We play music.”

The 71-year old accordion player now plans to travel extensively with his wife. They even have a recreational vehicle dubbed “The Four Winds” after the band. The RV will become his “house on wheels.”

Photos by Celso Rodriguez

“We sure like to travel,” said Jimmy Sr. with a chuckle. “Just stop and go, not so far—because you know how gas is. It’s nine miles per gallon and that’s not very much.”

The elder Bejarano also plans to teach his grandson Alejandro, age 4, to play the accordion.

“He loves to play, that boy,” said Jimmy Sr. with a big laugh. “I bought him a little guitar. Toes tapping, moving all over the place. He loves to play.”

Jimmy Jr. also explained that his father has had back problems for several years and needed to slow down. He and Rubén would load and unload the instruments so he could rest, but the younger Bejarano stated his father struggled to stand on stage for a couple of hours at a time and it began to take a physical toll.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Jimmy Jr. said of his dad’s retirement from music. “He’s an amazing accordion player, even today. He still has quite a range.”

Jimmy, Jr., 49, stated he planned to retire early from UPS in Toledo, move to Texas, and seek to join another conjunto musical group or form his own. Most of that genre of Latino-influenced music still is based in the San Antonio region. The bold move makes his father proud.

“It’s pretty important to me and the boys to keep it alive,” said the elder Bejarano. “There’s not very many bands over here. It’s important to keep it up.”

Rubén, 44, plans to stay in Fremont.

Bejarano was born on July 25, 1939 in Brownsville, Texas. When Jimmy Sr. was ten years old, his father Joaquin bought him his first accordion from a pawn shop in Lima, Ohio for $25. Little Jimmy quickly taught himself his first polka. 

According to his hall of fame biography, Bejarano joined El Conjunto de Eddie Cruz, playing guitar in 1953 and formed El Conjunto de Jimmy Bejarano a year later.  In 1976, the original version of Los Cuatro Vientos was formed; a father-son/father-son team, with Jimmy Sr. on accordion, Jimmy Jr. on bass guitar, Roque Cuevas on bajo sexto, and Leonel Cuevas on drums.  In 1986, Jimmy Jr. switched to bajo sexton and Rubén first joined the band on bass. Since then,   Rubén has since switched to drums. The current lineup of Los Cuatro Vientos, formed in 2000, added Angel Torres on bass guitar. 

In 2004, Jimmy Sr. received a certificate of recognition from the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, presented by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur for 50 years of contributing music and culture to the Latino community. 

“Music is a big part of our family heritage and tradition,” Jimmy Jr. explained. “It was such a big part of being a migrant worker, even when we first came to Ohio.”

Jimmy Jr. explained that his father and grandfather first started playing conjunto music while the family worked the fields as migrant farm workers. The family traveled as far as Nebraska and Montana before settling in the Fremont area near a Heinz factory, where tomato and pickle fields were plentiful.

Evenings were frequently spent in Jimmy Sr.’s youth playing music as families gathered to cook dinner together. Conjunto bands would travel the migrant camp circuit on weekends, playing at dances across the region.

“After a long day of work, that’s how they would relax,” said Jimmy Jr. “It would relieve a lot of stress.”

Jimmy Sr. and his father continued to play conjunto music even after finally obtaining jobs at a nearby steel mill in 1959.

“It was more like a hobby for him at that point, because of his factory work,” said Jimmy Jr.

Other Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame inductees

Five other conjunto music legends joined Bejarano as hall of fame inductees, including: Román Martínez from The Hometown Boys, George y Magüe Orosco del Dueto Carta Blanca, Santiago Jiménez Jr.(Flaco’s brother), Richard “Güero Polkas” Dávila from KEDA Radio, and Bene Layton from Los Layton, who passed away this year.

The festival itself featured 25 concerts from some big names, including hall of famers Mingo Saldivar, Eva Ybarra, Oscar Hernández, and Los Dos Gilbertos, as well as music clinics and other events at San Antonio’s Guadalupe Theater and Rosedale Park Other events included a Seniors Conjunto Dance, workshops for the button accordion and bajo sexto, a CD Release Party for the “Best of the 29th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival” (recorded live at the 2010 festival, and a student recital.

“We appreciate all of our fans, because air time is hard to come by in the Midwest,” said Jimmy Jr. “Almost all of the air time we have had comes in Texas. But playing our music has made us all very happy.”

Celso Rodríguez contributed to this report. Photos by Celso Rodriguez.

On the Internet:  http://www.guadalupeculturalarts.org/tejanoconjunto/ http://www.kedaradio.com/



We reserve the right to delete or edit any comments we find inappropriate.
Copyright © 1989 to 2011 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/17/11 17:55:21 -0700.





Web laprensa





«Tinta con sabor»     Ink with flavor!



Spanglish Weekly/Semanal

Your reliable source for current Latino news and Hispanic events with English and Spanish articles.
Contact us at [email protected] or call (419) 870-6565



Culturas Publication, Inc. d.b.a. La Prensa Newspaper

© Copyrighted by  Culturas Publication, Inc. 2010