Life on Point: Former conjunto musician trades 12 string for archery bow

SEBASTIAN — Rudy Garza has a thing about strings, and they weave their way through his life.

Garza, 85, was a musician playing the 12-string bajo sexto with the father of Tex-Mex conjunto, Narciso Martinez, and other top performers.

In fact, he says, perhaps the pinnacle of his music career was being invited to play at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to showcase conjunto music, the toe-tapping, accordion-driven sound that was born in north Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.

“They didn’t know what a bajo sexto was,” Garza recalled yesterday at his shop, Eagles Nest Archery. “It looks like a guitar, but it’s two instruments in one. It’s a guitar and a bass in one.

“We had a guy from Japan over here. He came down and wanted to know about it,” Garza recalled. “I explained this to him, and that, and he said ‘there are too many strings’ and he left.”

Like that Japanese visitor, Garza also said goodbye to 12 strings.

Now he obsesses on just one string, and its sharp “thwickk!” as it powers an arrow downrange.

“My dad was an avid hunter, but with a rifle. We went hunting, but I got to the point that you don’t feel the excitement to take an animal at 200 to 300 yards,” Garza said.

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