Norteño king Ramón Ayala at Silver Legacy
Considered by many in the Mexican community as the “King of the Accordion” and one of the greatest living Norteño music songwriters, musician Ramón Ayala will grace the stage of the Silver Legacy Resort Casino this weekend with his multi-talented band in tow.
Opening the bill is Ayala’s son, singer Ramón Ayala Jr., who also had many hits, including “Pero Esta Vez Lloré,” “Sabor Amargo,” “No Te Detengas,” “Estoy Aquí” and “Caricias Falsas.”
For the uninitiated, Norteño is a popular form of music best characterized by its inclusion of love songs or ballads (known in Mexico as corridos) and traditional polka fare. Some of the most important instruments are the accordion and the bajo sexto, a Mexican 12-stringed guitar.
Ramón Ayala began his recording career in 1963, and, since then, he has since released well more than 100 albums to date steeped in the rich traditions of music he heard growing up in Monterrey, Mexico. In addition to his recorded output, he has performed live for multiple decades. He was nominated for several Latin and American Grammy Awards, winning for “Quémame Los Ojos” and “El Numero Cien” releases. Additionally, he appeared in 13 motion pictures.
Although many of his fans know Ayala from his previous duo, Los Relámpagos del Norte — known for recording 20 influential albums in its eight-year run — he and his own Los Bravos Del Norte band have been a dominant force in the Mexican music community.
Today, his touring band includes Fidencio Ayala (bass), Jose Luis Ayala (drums), Mario Marichalar (guitar), David Laure (congas) and Raul Rosales (host and presenter).
At the ripe young age of 70, it would appear Ayala shows no signs of slowing down as evidenced by his recent run of West Coast dates.
“There is really nothing hard about touring these days because I enjoy it, and I can’t stay at home too long. Even when I am on vacation, I feel out of balance when I am not playing live,” said accordionist, songwriter and singer Ramón Ayala in a recent interview with Best Bets.
Since his humble beginnings playing the accordion — initially to help his family financially — it would seem he has done what some thought impossible: became a bonafide, international music superstar.
“It was the sound of the accordion that I fell in love with and drew me in when I would listen to Los Alegres de Teran (Norteño group from the 1920s). They were my idols when I was growing up,” said Ayala of his first encounter with traditional Norteño music.
It wasn’t until later in his career Ayala would be credited for inventing modern Conjunto music, a style also similar to Norteño.
“Many people don’t understand or know, but Norteño and Conjunto music are the same thing. In different parts of Mexico, they call the music Norteño and in others they call it Conjuntos,” Ayala said.
While most of Ayala’s fans know him from hits such as “Un Rinconcito En El Cielo” and “Chaparra de Mi Amor,” upon further inspection he has myriad other hits and a lot of deeper cuts that he tries (mostly with great success) to throw into the mix.
“It’s very hard to change up the set. If we take a song out from our set that we play today, people tomorrow will ask why didn’t we play that song,” he said.
“In reality, we need more time at our shows to play more hit songs. Even at the casino (like much of the venues they play), we are only allowed to play a 90 minute set, and it’s not enough time to play all of the hits. We have over 100 hit songs and could actually play for eight hours straight and not repeat one. Of course, we still play Los Relámpagos del Norte (Ayala’s former duo) songs because people still request those,” he said.
There is, however, one special number Ayala always makes sure to include when possible.
“The song ‘Mi Tesoro’ is my favorite because I asked my wife for her hand in marriage. I dedicated this song to her at that very moment and even today I still dedicate this song to her whenever she is at a show,” he said.
Ayala and his band find themselves playing to capacity crowds all over greater Mexico and many parts of the United States. “I think we are blessed to say that we do very well everywhere we go including Mexico.”
Moreover, as a veritable headliner he is afforded the opportunity to take his son — a fourth generation musician and singer — along for the ride as his opening act.
“Ramón Ayala Jr. is singing a few songs with our group during my show, He had a really successful career, but he stopped to start a family. However, I am happy to say he is now coming back with me on tour,” he said.
Longtime fans of Ayala will be pleased to know he’s not resting on his laurels and will continue to be as prolific as he’s always been.
“I’ve recorded 113 albums and have been recording for over 50 years mostly because I still enjoy recording music,” Ayala said. “I feel my fans expect new music from me, and I need to keep my fan base happy.”