Johnny Degollado is one of Conjunto music’s most prolific songwriters and master accordionists. Known around his hometown of Austin as El Montopolis Kid, Degollado started his own band in 1952. As a youth, he would spend weekends at an open-air dance venue called La Polkita in Del Valle, southeast of Austin, watching the best accordionist in central Texas: Camilo Cantu, also known as El Azote de Austin.
There is plenty written about him by various music journalists thanks to Degollado filling in the gaps (more than many others in Conjunto music enjoy), photographs from local historians like Daniel Schaefer, and there is even a mural of him at 9th and Red River by Austin artist Tim Kerr.
So the fact that we know his biography but we don’t know how he sounded has made the story feel incomplete. This album, Musica Al Estilo de Camilo, seeks to help salve this feeling and give listeners an idea of how Cantu actually sounded.
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 of Conjunto Cielito, along with several Degollado originals.
JJ Barrera accompanies Johnny on bajo sexto. A veteran musician with a diverse background, Barrera is a longtime member of Johnny’s regular band, Johnny Degollado y Su Conjunto, and also serves as one of the instructors for the University of Texas Conjunto program.
MUSICA AL ESTILO DE CAMILO
- Introduction by Johnny Degollado
- Lavando Los Trastes (Jose “Joe” Reyna)
- Maria Jesusa (Johnny Degollado)
- La Muchacha de 15 Años (Narciso Martinez)
- Cotulla (Santiago Jimenez Sr.)
- De Austin a San Antonio (Jose “Joe” Reyna)
- El Naranjal (Pedro Ayala)
- La Lupita (Johnny Degollado)
- Alice y San Diego (Narciso Martinez)
- La Calle 7 (Johnny Degollado)
- Me Trais Loco (Narciso Martinez)
Accordion – Johnny Degollado
Bajo Sexto – JJ Barrera
Recording, Mixing, Mastering – Nico Leophonte
Recorded at Alnico Recording Studio, Austin Texas, September 2021
Executive Producers: Baldomero Cuellar, Piper LeMoine
Liner notes: Piper LeMoine
Art Direction, Photography and Design: Piper LeMoine