The Rocks Off 100: Tony Garza, La Orquesta Salmerum Founder
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.
With the heat of the timbales and the brilliance of a dynamic horn section, La Orquesta Salmerum has been spicing up dance floors, Latin Nights and festivals in Houston for more than a decade. Founder and Band Director Tony Garza assembled a roster of superbly talented and charismatic individuals into an ensemble that has quickly become a favorite within the city's tropical music-lovin' Latino community.
Who? "I started the band back in 2001 with an eye at playing a mix of salsa, merengue and cumbia," says Garza. "Since then have grown the band from nine to 11 members and have expanded to include bachata music, which is pretty much the only tropical music left on the radio in Houston.
"The band is made up of guys from different backgrounds... Mexican-American, Colombian, Venezuelan, Dominican, and Puerto Rican, but all with a passion for salsa music," he adds.
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Home Base: "We practice at Sterrett Street Studios, and play steadily at Gloria's Midtown [on] Thursdays and Saturdays and Fox Hollow [on] Fridays," says Garza. "We also back up salsa artists when they come to town, and have played with salsa greats such as Tito Nieves, La India, Jerry Rivera, Tito Gomez, Maelo Ruiz, Tony Vega and many more.
Why Do You Stay in Houston? "The venues!" he says. "Houston has a better tropical music scene than most outsiders think. H-town is a Latin club Mecca --more so than LA, NYC or Miami.
Good War Story: "Playing our steady gig this past Thursday after losing our percussionist and friend Edgardo Morales who lost his battle with cancer," says Garza, adding that the experience was "especially tough for [Morales'] son Edgar Jr., who has been playing in his place."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "People not supporting/appreciating good live music and attending other clubs who charge no cover," he says. "Followed closely by bands charging so little that it brings everyone's pay down."
5 Records You Can't Live Without:
- Grupo Niche, The Best
- Hector Lavoe, La Voz
- Marc Anthony, Todo a su Tiempo
- El Gran Combo, 30 Aniversario
- Frankie Ruiz, Nacimiento y Recuerdos
Best Show Ever: "A Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades concert in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1995," Garza says.
What Is the Next Show/Project You're Promoting? Salmerum plays Gloria's Midtown from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursdays, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays at Fox Hollow and back at Gloria's on Saturdays.
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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