5 pioneers inducted to Conjunto Hall of Fame

SAN BENITO — Genaro Aguilar recalled fondly those early days when he and his family began playing conjunto.

They were just kids then, but they were beginning a musical legacy that continues today.

“Me and Emilio were very young,” he said, remembering the farm near Lytle where he began playing the “tololoch” — upright bass. His brother Emilio played the accordion.

“I was about 12,” he said. “We started making some great music.”

Both brothers were honored last night with induction into the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The 16th annual Texas Conjunto Music Inductions Awards Ceremony took place at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Not only was Aguilar inducted but also his brother, Emilio, who died in 2009.

Jessy Serrata, Tomas Vasquez and Rick Garcia also were honored with induction into the Conjunto Hall of Fame in the museum at 210 E. Heywood St.

“It’s an honor,” said Garcia, executive vice president of Hacienda Records in Corpus Christi. Garcia isn’t a recording artist, but he has promoted others in their recording careers since the early 1970s.

“I feel proud,” he said. “I never thought I’d be honored in this way.”

Serrata was also honored for his contributions to conjunto music but he was unable to make it to the ceremony because of illness. His friend Agustin Gomez accepted the honor in his place.

“He’s been in the music industry for over 50 years,” Gomez said. “I feel very humbled that I am able to accept this award for him.”

Vasquez was a spry 81 and still filled with memories playing for American soldiers on their way to Vietnam in the 1960s

“The guys were crying,” he said.

He’s the last surviving member of Freddie Gomez y Los Dinamicos.

He smiled and said, “I’m still here” through thick glasses.

These five new inductees now bring the number of Conjunto Hall of Famers to 80. With the creation of a new building, certainly more conjunto players will join them for many years to come.