The best one-word descriptor for Joe King Carrasco? After a 20-minute phoner with the Sultan of Tex-Mex music, Rocks Off is going with ebullient.
Something in Carrasco's upbeat, positive ramblings signal that he doesn't do much that isn't fun and interesting.
"Man, I've been so lucky," says Carrasco, who dropped out of music school at UT-Austin to play music and live in tiny Puerto Escondido, Mex., where the living was easy and a trash bag full of mountain-grown sinsamilla cost a hundred pesos.
"I thought I really wanted to go to music school and get a music degree, but what I found I really wanted to do was just be a musician.
"I'd get in arguments with my teachers," the Regal One recalls. "They'd say a note is this, and I'd argue that in rock and roll there's a front end and a back end to some notes. Even though it's true, needless to say I didn't win many of those arguments. And I dropped out pretty quick."
In a success story similar to that of the recently reformed Wagoneers, Carrasco noted that he put his band together in Austin in September 1979, and "by Thanksgiving we were playing in New York City."
"Joe Nick [Patoski], who dated Kris [Cummings, organist], had a lot of press connections in New York and word about us got around pretty quick."
The Crowns' reunion mini-tour of Texas this week finds the band releasing a nine-track CD that was cut as a demo during their early tenure in New York but never released.
"We really just cut these to demo some new songs," says Carrasco. "And then the record companies started coming around, and of course they had their own ideas about albums, so we never released these versions."
Titled Danceteria Deluxe - "we were playing these gigs at the Danceteria in New York that started at like 4:30 in the morning" - Carrasco describes the sound as "fresh and kinda innocent."
"You're always so self-conscious when you're recording," says Carrasco, "but we were just doing some fast demos of these new songs we had. I went back to listen to these and thought we really nailed them without any big production or much deep thinking going into it. It sounds like a good rock band doing what it's supposed to do, nothing fancy."
Carrasco calls Puerto Vallarta home these days, playing regularly at Nacho Daddy, which he describes as "a Mex-Tex restaurant."
Before he signs off, Carrasco reads the set list for Friday's gig at the Continental: "Buena," "Toughen Up," "Wild 14," "Baby Let's Go To Mexico," "Party Weekend" - his biggest hit - and covers of "Wooly Bully," "96 Tears," etc.
"It's really just about every song we know," Carrasco says. "We don't get the original lineup together very often, so we're probably gonna play 'til we drop."
With the Allen Oldies Band, 10 p.m. Friday at the Continental Club.
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