Santiago Jimenez, Jr. joins the Hardcharger/Blue Élan family and announces new Still Kicking! album with single, "Al Mirar Tu Cara"
The San Antonio-based iconic family, led by Santiago Jimenez, Sr., credited as the “Father of Modern Conjunto Music,” has been groundbreaking in and around their native Texas roots. Son, Santiago “Jimmy” Jimenez Jr., announced today he has signed a new record deal with the recently formed Austin-based Hardcharger Records, in partnership with Blue Élan Records. Hardcharger is an imprint founded by Austin-based guitarist, singer/songwriter and author, Jesse Dayton. Santiago’s new album, Still Kicking!, will be released on May 20, 2022 while the first single, “Al Mirar Tu Cara,” is available today. Listen here.
“Al Mirar Tu Cara” is a song first popularized by Santiago’s father, Don Santiago Jimenez, the original El Flaco. Although Don Santiago never recorded the song, it was always featured in his repertoire during his live performances. “My dad would play it at his dances, it was a great song I remember him singing, it’s a song about seeing a pretty face that you cannot forget.”
Santiago “Jimmy” Jimenez Jr. hails from a long lineage of groundbreaking musicians. His legendary father, Santiago Jimenez, Sr. is credited as the “Father of Modern Conjunto Music” and his brother, two-time Grammy-award winning Flaco Jimenez, has taken the traditional accordion Conjunto Music making it contemporary by adding in saxophone and guitar for artists like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
Hardcharger Records head, Jesse Dayton, describes the first time he saw Santiago perform live in San Antonio, “I thought ‘Oh my God… he’s the living link between Norteño and Tejano music that influenced rock n roll and country and modern Latin music. I’m watching the living embodiment of that. The source! So, when Garrett T. Capps said he had this raw and powerful old school style recording he did with Santiago, I jumped at the chance to put it out on our Hardcharger record label. This project is a labor of love. Our #1 goal is to turn more people onto one of the last living legends from San Antonio Texas!”
Santiago, Jr. has recorded for dozens of legendary Texas record labels over the years — storied labels such as Disco Grande, Lira, Corona, D.L.B. and, most recently, Shotgun House. Jimmy’s first recording session dates back to around 1960 with Disco Grande. In fact, the label owner and producer, Mel Moran was the first to market him as “Santiago Jimenez Jr.” “People said I played like my father, that I had his style,” he recalls. “That’s why they started calling me Santiago Jimenez Jr.”
After 60 years of writing and recording thousands of songs in San Antonio, a 2015 National Medal of Arts Award presented to him by then President Barack Obama and two Grammy nominations, it is hard to fathom which roads, or “calles,” Santiago Jr. has yet to travel down. For his new album, Still Kicking!, El Chief (as he is also known) selected a few songs dating back to the early days of his career. One that he recorded at the age of 16 during his first recording session with Moran at the TNT studio, “Que Chulos Ojos,” is by legendary songwriter Juan Gaytan. The album was produced by Garrett T. Capps and features Grammy Award-winning Max Baca on bajo sexto and Noel Hernandez on tololoche (upright bass), both from the band Los Texmaniacs. They helped bring together a sound that is as authentic to San Antonio as enjoying a plate of enchiladas and drinking a Pearl down on the Riverwalk while wearing a freshly pressed shirt from Penners.