The Garbonzos Invade

by Brad Bodenhausen and Araceli Hanks, Co-Chairs of Tlaquepaque Committee.

We weren’t quite sure Tlaquepaque was ready for The Garbonzos.

Springfield music fans have loved The Garbonzos for years, entertained by the band’s “hillbilly polka” music, crazy costumes and unpredictable antics. But when accordion player Chris Slatinsky showed up in a pink tutu for The Garbonzo’s on-stage preformance at Tlaquepaque’s Jardin Hidaldo, we wondered if the machismo culture of Mexico could handle such an affront.

As it turned out, Mexico was more than ready. Slatinsky’s graceful maneuvers in his tutu and mandolin player Michael “Supe” Granda’s Superman in flight imitation own over the crowd of more than 500 new fans. The highlight of the performance, however, was the clash of cultures that took place when The Garbonzos joined the 10-member Mariachi Femenil Tecalitlan on stage to close the evening of music after numerous calls for “otra” resulted in the encore.

Calling the entire experience “surreal,” members of The Garbonzos said they were please with the positive response they received in Mexico. In addition to Slatinsky and Granda, the band included John Ehlers on washboard and Tim White playing the guitar.

The Garbonzos were busy during their brief stay in Tlaquepaque. The performed four “on-stage” concerts even though it proved very difficult to keep the roving band on stage. They also played countless impromptu shows at the shops, restaurants and hotels of Tlaquepaque.

As the band walked to its first performance, playing their unique instruments along the way, they attracted much attention that quickly turned into a parade following them through the center of town. The Garbonzos also aroused curiosity as they entertained students at the CAI San Pedrito children’s center, teaching them how to play the child-sized washboards the band donated to the school.

The Garbonzos are veterans of Sister City music exchanges, having represented Springfield in Isesaki, Japan in 2005. In October, Springfield hosted Mariachi Femenil Nuevo Tecalitlan as they promoted Mexican culture through music by performing at elementary schools, universities and the community-wide ArtsFiesta! celebration.

Here’s a sample of The Garbonzo’s lively music at a Springfield, Missouri welcome party for the the all-female Mariachi Femenil Nuevo Tecalitlan band…

And another video clip of the two musical groups performing together at the 2009 ArtsFiesta! in downtown Springfield’s Founders Park…