Narciso Martínez Interview

Narciso Martínez, born in 1911, in Reynosa, Tamalipas, across the Texas-Mexico border, is known as the “father” of the Texas-Mexican conjunto.  Upon making his first recording, “La Chicharronera/El tronconal,” with the Bluebird label in 1936, he struck out in a new stylistic direction on his accordion.  Other accordionists in Texas had generally followed what may be called the “Germanic” style, utilizing both the right and left hand buttons.  Martínez had begun to rely on his bajo sexto player, Santiago Almeida, for the bass-and-harmonic accompaniment to fill out his lead on the accordion, while he concentrated on the treble end of his instrument.  The resulting sound and style were immediately distinguishable, thus laying the framework for the modern tejano conjunto style of music.  Martínez became immensely popular with working-class tejanos, and he continued to record and perform his dance music of polcas, valses, huapangos and other tunes until the 1980s.

  • Narciso Martínez Interview 1 00:00
  • Narciso Martínez Interview 2 00:00
Interviewee: Narciso Martínez
Interviewer: Chris Strachwitz and unknown
Language: English/Español

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.