Shared Roots: Tremoloco To Perform At Shoeshine Charley's Big Top Lounge

Tremoloco shares roots between Los Angeles and Houston.  The band will perform on Friday, July 15 at Shoeshine Charley's Big Top Lounge.
Tremoloco shares roots between Los Angeles and Houston. The band will perform on Friday, July 15 at Shoeshine Charley's Big Top Lounge. Photo by Cari Pike
Tremoloco accurately describes themselves as “Cantina music, Gulf Coast Roots, Sonoroan Gothic folk and Tex-Mex Americana."  The brainchild of Los Angeles based musician Tony Zamora,Tremoloco has deep Texas roots with Houston's accordion wizard Roberto Rodriguez III being a huge part of the band and their next creative phase.

Tremoloco will perform at Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge on Friday, July 15 for an intimate performance before they head back to California to record their fourth album, La Curandera, due out later this year.

Zamora had been working as a musician and side man for as long as he could remember in Los Angeles. Growing up, his older brothers were part of the music scene in East LA in the ‘60s setting him up with countless connections to the music community there and tons of exposure and opportunities to play.

In 2008, Zamora decided he would try creating his own project and Tremoloco was born. “I started this band which was a lot easier to do then I thought it would be because all the musicians that I love and respected started helping us out. It was labor of love and they knew I was one of them,” says Zamora of his famous collaborators which include Max and Josh Vaca of Los Texmaniacs, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Cindy Cashdollar and the late Ian McLagan

Zamora, who has Texas roots and visits the state frequently, was put in touch with Houston’s Rodriguez through a writer from the Houston Press around the same time and though Rodriguez didn’t end up on the first album, Dulcinea, the two quickly formed a bond and partnership that has only grown with time.

“He’s been so fun,” says Zanora of Rodriguez. “We’ve never had one cross word to each other. We’ve been very supportive and since I’m out of LA and he's in Houston, we stay supportive of each other and we absolutely back up each other on any outside projects. There's no ego with it.”

"We stay supportive of each other and we absolutely back up each other on any outside projects. There's no ego with it.”

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Zamora and Rordiguez may have a generational gap between them but their bond over celebrating, preserving and pushing roots music to new audiences in their songwriting has created the strong base of their friendship and partnership as bandmates.

“It’s weird, you see an older Mexicano and a younger Mexicano on stage but we just go back and forth with each other. The crowd seems to love all the stories that we tell and the stories go with the songs that we do,” describes Rodriguez.

Though Rodriguez, like Zamora, has served in a side man for a number of great local projects like Nick Gaitan and the Umbrella Man, Goat Leather and as a member of Luba Dvorak’s band, Tremoloco is the first project where he has really pushed himself to write songs with the encouragement and guidance of Zamora.

Without many gigs to play during the pandemic, Zamora began writing the songs which will be part of La Curandera. He and Rodriguez initially would collaborate over the phone but with different time zones and the lack of in real time interactions it proved difficult leading them both to travel to one another to complete the writing process.

“Tony is the reason why I started becoming more of a song writer,” says Rodriguez. Especially with this album.” Zamora describes the relationship as a two-way street with Rodriguez helping him with Spanish language lyrics and he in turn guiding Rodriguez with the songwriting process.
The band also took time during the pandemic to film a distanced performance at the historic Pappy and Harriet's in California and had songs appear in Scott Windhauser's film Death In Texas.

For the past few weeks Zamora has been in Texas traveling around with the band to perform and record new tracks for the album including a stop at The University of Texas at El Paso to perform with local mariachis there, an experience near to Zamora’s heart as his mother lived there before moving to California.

Their current Texas run allows them to get their new songs out and practice them in front of an audience before heading back to California to record. “The smaller venues allow me to sit before a captured audience and tell stories,” says Zamora of the band's performances which often prove educational as well as entertaining with both artists being so knowledgeable about the history of folk music from Mexico.

California and Texas have a lot in common in this regard with both states sharing a border with Mexico and having a rich tradition of songwriters that carry the torch as Zamora and Rodriguez are doing.

“They are connected,” says Zamora of the Mexicans who came to California through the Sonora area bringing with them not only their culture and cuisine but also their music. “That's not that far removed from Texas music. He’s an expert on Tejano stuff,” says Zamora of Rodriguez. “There is no real Tex Mex in California, there's just something uniquely Texas about Texas Tex Mex and he's really great at that.”

Tremoloco will perform on Friday, July 15 at Shoeshine Charley's Big Top Lounge, 3714 S Main, doors at 8 p.m., $10.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes