Esteban Villa | Habanero Honey

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United States - California

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Latin: Latin Folk Folk: Urban Folk Moods: Type: Vocal
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Habanero Honey

by Esteban Villa

Original Urban folk songs drawing from Latino/Chicano and country music traditions.
Genre: Latin: Latin Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Hot
3:44 $0.99
2. Tequila Gold
2:56 $0.99
3. General Confusion
3:29 $0.99
4. Dance Hall
2:21 $0.99
5. Jalapeño Song
3:30 $0.99
6. Home Alone
4:12 $0.99
7. It's Too Late
3:41 $0.99
8. Please Don't
3:39 $0.99
9. Getting Old
3:21 $0.99
10. Raising The Bar
3:18 $0.99
11. Sign On The Dotted Line
3:15 $0.99
12. Check's In The Mail
3:11 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Back about 1935, in the small town of Tulare, Mexican farm workers spent Saturday nights at the fairgrounds dancing to the live music of conjuntos and touring bands. It was a pleasant diversion from the long hours and back breaking work in the fields, orchards and canneries. The music played were rancheras, polkas, ballads or the big band swing music of the time performing American pop standards. It was in this setting that the young five-year old boy, Esteban Villa, was introduced to music. He accompanied his parents and his siblings to these dances where he watched the older people dance, listen and enjoy the syncopation and melodies.
The music on this recording brings back memories for me of hours of conversations Esteban and I have had about music in general and music in his life in particular. All composers of song have tales to tell about musical influences and life experiences that have shaped their music. Esteban is no different.
Villa is now in his eightieth year. He lives and acts as though he is only half of that. It is a wonder that he has achieved all that he has in his life, having started with so little. He was born dirt poor in the California Central Valley town of Tulare in the first year of the Great Depression. This was, perhaps, of little meaning to his family who were part of the American work force that always experienced poverty. Villa grew up working in the fields (when work was available) with his family picking crops under the hot sun contributing to the household income. While hating the back breaking work, he was able to find pleasure in the world of art and music. It was in the earliest years of his life that he found his early passion for art and music leading to a lifetime of making art and teaching it to young people in high schools, universities and community centers throughout Central and Northern California. He could not have fathomed in his youth that his life would be dedicated to art, music and social change.
Forty years ago, along with his compadre, José Montoya, Esteban co-founded the infamous artists’ collective, the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF). It was with the RCAF where art and social action melded together. He taught art at Sacramento State University until retirement in 1994, but he continues to paint every day.
Villa recalls the time in his youth when his family bought their first radio, a large floor model, from the local Montgomery Ward store. He sat absorbed in front of it listening to big band jazz music, boogie woogie, ballads and rancheras. He became just as familiar with the names of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Chick Webb, as he did with Lydia Mendoza, Lalo Guerrero, Agustin Lara and Mariachi Vargas.
In his teen years, his attention turned to the increasingly popular singers such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Rosemary Clooney. He recalls that the local Bakersfield radio station dedicated only one hour a week to Black music, but that one hour had its impact; the great singers of the time inspired his interest in rhythm and blues. Jazz was developing a new sound in smaller combos and emphasizing spontaneity and improvisation. It was also the time of Perez Prado and the mambo. During the years living in the valley, some neighborhood bar jukeboxes played nothing but country music while others focused on Mexican music. During his college years and following the sixties, it was rock and roll, folk music, jazz and latin music that filled his head. In a natural way, these musical streams have come together here in the music he brings in Habanero Honey.

The tracks:
Hot: This is country music in the way you would hear it in a small bar on a Saturday night in South Texas or Bakersfield. One can imagine a combo with sax, button accordion, bass, guitar and drums backing up a young brown singer named Steve Villa singing about the love for his sweetheart.
Tequila Gold: Villa sings from real life experiences. His Tequila Gold song is about his DUI experience in a jail dominated by black and brown folk. Listen to the strain of honky tonk rhythm running through this country blues melody.
General Confusion and Too Late: These deep, dark songs reflect the influence of 60’s rock, Jim Morrison of the Byrds in haunting story-telling style reminiscent of Morrison’s “End of the Night”, “ The End”, or “Riders in the Storm”. Listening to “General Confusion” could be the soundtrack to Garcia Marquez’s treatment of the aging despot in his Autumn of the Patriarch.
Many of Villa’s songs are about the basic stuff of just living one’s life: The Check’s in the Mail uses the old line about a payment coming (maybe) sung with a panoply of barnyard sounds: guitar, sax, rubber band, and accordion. Sign on the Dotted Line sings of buying a new car. Please Don’t sings of credit cards, paying the bills, working overtime and getting married. Getting Old laments on how long one waits for a love to return.
Raisin’ the Bar is conjures up a Grand Ol Opry performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Home Alone is in the best tradition of a cowboy singing (or howling at the moon) of love unfulfilled. This is a throwback to those Marty Robbins-style songs sung in 50’s B-grade black and white movies starring singing cowboys like Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey.
Jalapeño Song: Villa’s connection to things Mexican is made here with his frequent artistic references to chiles, menudo, and tequila. This is a song about the qualities of eating jalapeños.
Dance Hall: Villa goes back to his childhood recalling farmworkers dancing foxtrots at the dance halls of the Central Valley to the popular music of the time. These live bands were often small conjuntos traveling from town to town.
Music of Villa’s life gives shape and form to the music of the Movimiento—the music that expresses much of what concerns him the most. El Movimiento sings of social change, family, love, place, education, and traditions. El Movimiento is about making a better world. For Villa, music and art contributes to that.



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