Friends of Music’s popular summer concert series continues on Sunday, July 27. The Ronstadt Generations y Los Tucsonenses will present a concert of Southwestern music at 2 p.m. in the Church. This group continues the legendary musical tradition of the Ronstadt family in Tucson. Led by Michael J. Ronstadt on guitar and voice, they will present an exciting repertoire that preserves the traditional Southwestern and Mexican songs of their heritage while offering innovative original material that echoes the “melting pot” of American folk music. New compositions place them on the cutting edge of multiple, blended genres, stretching the boundaries of folk, blues, jazz and beyond. Rich harmonies sung in English and Spanish are enhanced by outstanding guitars and cello accompaniments, while the addition of tenor saxophone, bass, and drums add a colorful dimension to a powerful presentation that respects tradition while exploring innovation. Each of the musicians in this six-piece ensemble has extensive experience as a performing and recording artist. Michael J. Ronstadt is troubadour in the true sense of folk music, and his group offers a uniquely Tucson event that should not be missed.
Personnel include Ronstadt father and sons Michael J., Michael G., and Petie; joined by Alex Flores, vocals and tenor saxophone; Sam Eagon, electric and upright bass; and Aaron Emery, percussion.
Concerts continue through September 7. For more information click here or call 222-7277.
The suggested concert admission is $20 per person. Friends of Music provides support to the music program at St. Philip’s, through sponsoring concerts, special musical events, commissions, scholarships, and community outreach programs.
Michael J. Ronstadt
Michael J.Ronstadt is no stranger to the stage or the recording studio. He has harmonized with sister Linda on some of her biggest hits and appears on several of her albums, most notably the Canciones de mi padre releases. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he recalls being introduced to opera recordings by his grandmother and hearing Mexican records his father would play. Michael J. picked up guitar at age six, latching on to the music of the “folk boom era” and then early rock-and-roll. He moved to Los Angeles in 1975, becoming actively involved in the professional music scene, including performing and recording with sister Linda primarily during the 1980s and 1990s.
Michael J.’s resonant songs captivate vivid canvases of life, history, love, joy and hardship. “The Mill Of Oracle” will elicit tears, while “Wagon Mound” transports listeners back to the Santa Fe Trail in the 1800s. Feel the sadness in “Heartbreak” and “Feel The Wind” or hear the Civil War come alive in “Off To Battle.” “Mary” is an exquisite lullaby for children of all ages.
Among his numerous album credits, in addition to those with other Ronstadt family members and with Ronstadt Generations, Michael J. has two children’s recordings and a gospel CD.
Michael G. Ronstadt
For two decades, Michael G. (Michael J.’s oldest son) has entertained audiences throughout North America on cello, guitar and voice. An exceptional musician-composer conversant with a wide range of styles, he not only executes captivating solo performances, but participates regularly in duo and trio situations with a diverse camp of young, innovative musician-songwriters including Lisa Biales and David Trotta. His versatile talents have been tapped for concert and studio work by such artists as David Bromberg, Linda Ronstadt, Muriel Anderson and Craig Bickhardt.
As a core member of Ronstadt Generations, Michael G. displays genre-blending explorations on cello and guitar in complement to thought-provoking lyrics. To say his originals are unusual is an understatement. They set the bar at Olympian heights in their depth and breadth. In addition to his solo recordings as well as those with Ronstadt Generations, Michael G. is a much sought-after studio musician, who has appeared on more than fifty albums in the last dozen years. Dan Buckley writing for The Tucson Citizen noted his “amazing command of the typical and exotic sounds of the cello, a true virtuoso and a man of instinctive musicality.” Michael holds both a Master and Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance and studied under esteemed pedagogues Yehuda Hanani, Nancy Green and Dr. Gordon Epperson.
Starting out on violin in grade school, Petie (Michael J.’s younger son) traded “up” to bass guitar and upright bass in middle school, playing in the school’s orchestra and jazz band. The band director tapped Petie to play tuba in the concert band as well. He continued on all three instruments in his high school concert, marching and jazz bands.
Petie first explored composing in high school, during which time he founded an indie rock group, The Goodbye Kiss, in which he played guitar and sang. This led to a record deal with a small Southern California label and the release of a self-titled EP. It was this set of circumstances that provided the engineering education and fueled Petie’s passion for the recording process. He teamed up with bassist Sam Eagon (a member of Los Tucsonenses) and founded LandMark Sound Recorders, a studio in Tucson, where they continue to serve the regional music community.
The Goodbye Kiss eventually morphed into the band Alan Smithee, while Petie simultaneously played guitar in the punk/hardcore band Doyle Brunson (along with Sam Eagon). When both groups ultimately disbanded, Petie continued at his studio, did sound for local concerts and worked at Tucson’s Metro Gnome Music. In 2008 he joined dad Michael J. in the Santa Cruz River Band as bassist and live recording engineer through 2009.
Petie’s keen ear and his sensitive songwriting – such as the exquisite imagery heard in “Hummingbird” — are key to Ronstadt Generations’ future tradition-building. Whether harmonizing with father and brother or quietly offering his own compositions, Petie demonstrates an engaging, easy-going stage presence.
Tucson native Alex Flores is the youngest inductee into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame (2003); in fact, he now sits on the ABHOF board of directors. Lending vocals and playing tenor saxophone with Ronstadt Generations y Los Tucsonenses, Alex began his career in 1994 fronting Tucson’s Bad News Blues Band, with whom he continues to perform. In 1999 he went on to tour extensively around the world with Alligator recording artist Long John Hunter. When blues legend Johnny Rawls played Tucson in 2011, Alex was tapped as part of the pickup backing band. His playing was singled out by the Tucson Weekly, noting that his “…solos often got the spotlight, thrillingly re-creating a raucous juke-joint explosion of proto-rock and classic R&B.”
To date, Alex has appeared on three Ronstadt Generations CDs and five with the Bad News Blues Band. When not gigging with the Los Tucsonenses, Alex keeps his chops in shape, writing, recording, producing and performing with other well-established Tucson area groups.
Immersing himself in the local music scene since high school, native Tucsonan Sam Eagon provides the groove on electric and upright bass as one-third of Los Tucsonenses. He briefly explored percussion and brass family instruments before settling in comfortably full-time as a bass player, forming various bands and performing throughout the area with a host of others. Not content to be only a musician, Sam is an all-around music guy. In addition to concert and studio production work, he co-founded LandMark Sound Recorders studio in 2005 with Petie Ronstadt. In 2006, he expanded to establish L.M.D.C. (Land Mark Drum Company), a small custom drum fabrication, restoration and repair shop, satisfying his sideline interest in drums and percussion instruments.
In addition to his role with Ronstadt Generations y Los Tucsonenses, Sam can also be heard from time to time with an array of such area groups as Genevieve & the LPs, The Socials, Bad News Blues Band, Anna War & Giant Blue, The Arizona Roadrunners Dixieland Jazz Band, Big Band Express, Pan Dulce, Sweet Ghost, and many more.
Percussionist/drummer Aaron Emery is a fixture in the Tucson music scene, performing with numerous highly regarded local as well as internationally touring artists. Known primarily in jazz and rhythm & blues circles, Aaron infuses his playing with a flair affected by a long list of influences and his versatile background. When not performing or recording with Ronstadt Generations y Los Tucsonenses, he too shares (or has shared) stage time with such bands as Genevieve & the LPs, The Socials, Bad News Blues Band, Crystal Stark, The Jive Bombers, The Bryan Dean Trio, among others.
An instructor at Tucson’s Drum and Drummer School of Percussion, Aaron holds a Masters in Percussion, a Bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance and a Performance Certificate from New York City’s prestigious Drummer’s Collective.