The Caliente Column

Jonny: Caminos Chuecos
By Doug Shannon (tmaxgroup@yahoo.com)

Most San Antonians aren't apt to consider themselves cheeseheads, the costumed, painted fans of the Green Bay Packers. So you'll have to forgive Jonny Martinez for being the "green sheep" of the flock.

You see, during the late 80s at Southwest High School, Jonny played varsity football with current Packer backup QB Ty Detmer. They remain friends to this day. Ty's dad Sonny coached the high school team and helped Jonny secure a football scholarship from, of all places, Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri.

"I didn't want to stay too close to home," Jonny said.

Jonny played wide receiver and graduated with a degree in mass communications in Dec. 1992. He recalled some of the pitfalls he faced on and off the field.

"It was very tough--guys on the team with cocky attitudes calling me beaner, spic, and wop. I got into plenty of fights my freshman year. It didn't matter whether you were a wop or not; they'd call you something regardless. That's just competition."

When the team went to raise the roof, they often made the 55-mile drive to Warrensburg, a party town that's home to Central Missouri State University. Jonny said he remembers joining his teammates in surrounding a certain bar's DJ until he played Hank Williams Jr. He also recalled winning the "Tight Jeans Contest" at another night spot.

And Jonny met his first wife, Stephanie, at a nearby bar. If you want to hear more about that, he wrote a song about it, "Me Enamore." It's on his new CD, "Caminos Chuecos."

The marriage didn't last, a setback Jonny says he attributes to the red-eye hours and busy travel schedule required of musicians. He's still single.

It's a lifestyle he can't give up, as he tries to make the transition from being an up-and-comer to being a household name. Moreover, he's still pursuing a career in the communications field. You never know where he might turn up. And you might be surprised at who's turning up in his songs.

His cumbia "La Musiquera" mentions six Tejano acts.

"The original version of the song was done by Fito Olivares when he was hitting big with TAM y TEX and it mentioned names like RIGO TOVAR, CORNELIO REYNA, and RAMON AYALA. But I thought these people here in Tejano land aren't going to relate to artists like that," he said.

"So I said, 'Let me see what kind of market I'm encountering.' I'm an accordion abuse type of guy, so I need to grab those fans. So if I mention EDDIE GONZALEZ I get the young crowd. If I mention ALBERT ZAMORA I'm going to get the die-hard accordion fans. If I mention LA TROPA F I'm going to get a wide variety of people, old and young."

His musiquera also ends up flirting with DAVID LEE GARZA, CALI CARRANZA, and LOS DESPERADOZ.

Although Jonny is just 26, he isn't a Coca-Cola cowboy on the Tejano scene. His father Anselmo is a Tejano singer whou toured tirelessly during the 1960s.

Jonny and his band are working on their second album which is scheduled to be released this spring on Joey Records.

Jonny's band is: Rudy "Guy" Cortez, accordion; Arturo Hernandez, bass; Ernesto DeLeon, bajosexto; Eddie Rivas, drums; and Arturo Guillermo, keyboards.