Just about every Mexican-American I know is familiar with Chingon music here in the great Southwest where we love our history and watching Wild Wild Spaghetti Western flicks, too. With the exploding Mexican-American population occurring – it is important to keep track of sales in the performing arts industry. According to the Universal Latin Artist, “The breakdown of the Hispanic population is a good indicator as to the popularity of the different genres of Latin music. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Regional Mexican music is the hottest selling Latin music format in the United States, making up 49% of all Latin music sales. Its popularity is fueled by the tremendous growth of the Mexican population in the U.S., which the Census estimates to make up 67% of the Hispanic population in this country; actual estimates may be higher.”
Who needs a guitar when you have killer Mariachi-rocker vocals like Alex Ruiz? Though he plays a guitar, his voice can be an instrument in and of itself with his unique voice and massive vocal range. He sings one of the best renditions of the classic Mexican song
Malagueña Salerosa that was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill 2 Movie. He is the lead singer of Chingon – a band that comprises of film maker Robert Rodriguez with his electric guitar, alongside the Del Castillo brothers and their beautiful acoustic guitar sounds.
Ruiz’s lyricist ability began with a poetry book his grandmother gave him when he was a child, and he would commit those poems to memory and quote them. His grandma reinforced his poetic foundation when she would remind him to read Psalms 119 – the longest Psalm King David wrote. Ruiz understands the inspiration music can bring to an individual and recalls a moment sitting near a Fiesta when he saw a woman playing her harp bringing tears to his eyes without knowing why. These days he finds himself seeking the comforting quotes by the Dalai Lama – a man who has undergone extraordinary pain. The Dalai Lama could have chosen to be a bitter man but instead decided to be a man of smiles and laughter.
Within the last ten years Ruiz has recorded with artists such as Willie Nelson. The song recorded was I Never Cared for You, which has now become Willie Nelson’s favorite version. Most recently he has collaborated with Carlos Santana, Los Lonely Boys, Mana and many other well known artists on the compilation, “Project of Love”, in memory of Cesar Chavez and dedicated to the spirit of the labor workers from Central and South America.
Alex Ruiz has mastered the ability in being a Spanish lyricist, but he is broadening his horizons and crossing over by writing
more English lyrics and melodies via the The Night Mothers. The most current project via The Night Mothers is an Austin – Texas based all original Americana-Rock band. The band consists of Alex Ruiz, Albert Besteiro, Jeff Plankenhorn, Elias Montemayor, Michael O’Connor on guitar and Brian Mendez with drums. Alex has been writing with Jeff for the last two years in hopes of securing an album, and live performances can be seen and heard on YouTube and reverbnation. The band can be seen live playing at places in Austin: Strange Brew Lounge Side, Antone’s, Continental Club, Saxon Pub; New Braunfels: Gruene Hall; Houston: Dosey Doe; McAllen, TX: Cine El Rey. The recent album from The Night Mothers, “Sunrise” was released in April, 2012 and is now available on iTunes.
Music for Ruiz comes natural and effortless, and lately he has been putting his heart, soul and personal experiences into the new music. He enjoys sharing his music and likes to see people enjoying themselves and having a good time with it. The new songs he is writing about has much to do with the space we fill in-between in our day-to-day lives. He examines himself and asks how he can give back. He chose to give back through music. One way he gave back to the universe was through a beautiful ballad he created about the Rio Grande (perfect for any Tex-Mex movie). He wrote the ballad in special memory of his uncle and recalls participating in his uncle’s wishes to have his ashes spread at the mouth of the Rio Grande River where the Boca Chica Beach meets the river near the Gulf of Mexico.
What it all boils down to is Ruiz’s belief that life is about Rock n’ Roll where songs have given him a poetic license to be a component of the arts industry — filling a space as the mighty pendulum swings us into the highs and lows in life. It would not surprise me to hear how Mariachi Americana Rockers gain traction in the music industry fueled by the current Latin Boom — and Alex is one musician to follow.
“Follow me down the Rio Grande, Cool River tastes salty again, Follow me down the Rio Grande, The Gulf of Mexico is where I’ll make my stand!” – Alex Ruiz