The Rocks Off 100: David DeLaGarza, Don of Tejano Stars La Mafia
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Photos by Marco Torres (except as indicated)
Any conversation about Tejano music is incomplete without a mention of internationally successful, Grammy award-winning supergroup La Mafia. One of the primary elements of the band since the beginning has been keyboardist and background vocalist David DeLaGarza, whose music and infamous gritos helped shape the sound and heart of Tejano music.
Who? I was born and raised in Seguin, Texas, to a family of musicians," says DeLaGarza. "My father and all my uncles were musicians. My father played with some of the early greats of Tejano music such as Sunny & the Sunliners, Latin Breed, Agustine Ramirez and many more.
"I started playing with my father and uncles at the age of 12," he continues. "I moved to Houston at the age of 19 in January of 1989 when I joined La Mafia."
photo courtesy of David DeLaGarza
Home Base: As a member of La Mafia, we're based in Houston," he says. "Although we don't play a whole lot here, this is where we will always be based out of. Being that we don't tour as much as we used to, we are pretty selective on the shows we do."
DeLaGarza also does some shows with his cover band Kosmic Latte, and has played Houston's House of Blues a few times with his project featuring Santana vocalist Andy Vargas. He also has a project featuring ex-Beyonce percussionist Marcia Chapa, Houston sax star Kyle Turner, Al Jarreau guitarist John Calderon and the rhythm section of Jason "Wild Child" Robinson and Junie Wallace (drums).
"I'm pretty busy," DeLaGarza affirms.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? I Love Houston!" he exclaims. "Everything about it. I basically grew up here because when i moved here i didn't know a single soul. As the years have passed I've made some lifelong friends.
I love the sports teams," adds DeLaGarza. "You can always find great music [and] food, and it's where I have my own family."
Good War Story:
With La Mafia, there are so many! We have traveled all over Mexico and South America and pretty much all of the Latin countries, but I remember around 1990 when we were first starting to gain popularity in Mexico, we did a show in Monterrey.
The sound system wasn't very good, and the power kept going out. We thought the people were going to kill us. It got to a point where it was happening every song.
We soon found out that they loved us so much that every time the power went out, the people just kept singing the songs back to us and would just wait until the power came back on because they wanted to see us so badly. And this was before we really even exploded there.
DeLaGarza (far left) plays with Oscar De La Rosa y La Mafia at the 2013 Tejano Music Fest.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Being that I also play locally, I really hate the fact that some of these locals clubs will only book you if you play a certain type of music," DeLaGarza says. "They might as well book the same band every night, because they want the same music from everyone.
"I'm just blessed that I have been able to find my niche and can work and play what I want to play," he adds.
5 Records You Can't Live Without:
"Too many to name, but here are some that come to mind," DeLaGarza says.
- Stevie Wonder, Fullfillingness' First Finale
- Sting, Ten Summoners Tales
- Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson
- Michael Jackson, Off the Wall
- Prince, Sign "O" the Times
Best Show Ever: "The Jacksons' Victory Tour, Texas Stadium 1984."
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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