Conjunto Bernal

Mi Unico Camino

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Fronted by vocalist/ accordionist Paulino Bernal, Conjunto Bernal was a conjunto that specialized in regional Tex-Mex music. Bernal was joined by his brother, bajo sexto/vocalist Eloy Bernal, and bassist/drummer Ruben Perez on Mi Unico Camino, a series of songs and instrumentals recorded between 1954 and 1960, and reissued by Arhoolie. As Arhoolie's Chris Stachwitz wrote in an earlier set of liner notes, conjuntos were groups "usually featuring two harmonizing voices, an accordion, a bajo sexto and a string bass, [that] were making the music that Spanish-speaking factory hands, truck drivers, and other blue collar workers wanted to hear." (The bajo sexto is a 12-string guitar with a non-standard tuning.) The songs and instrumentals that grace Mi Unico Camino are frequently filled with a bouncy, 2-step rhythm, perfect for dancing or just to place the listener in an upbeat mood. The Bernal brothers' vocals blend easily, adding a melodic quality to the persistent rhythms, while the simplicity of the lively arrangements remains fresh throughout the 15 tracks. Mi Unico Camino is a fine introduction to Conjunto Bernal, as well as a solid entry into a popular regional style, enriched by a knowledgeable set of liner notes by Manuel Pena and Stachwitz.

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