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Ayala hasn't abdicated accordion crown

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte performed an Aug. 27 concert at Pala Casino's Palomar Starlight Theater. Ayala is often billed as "El Rey de Accordeon," which in English means King of the Accordion. Although Ayala is now 77 years old, the Pala Casino concert showed he hasn't abdicated his accordion royalty.

The 91-minute concert was preceded by a six-minute introduction. Ayala and the rest of his band performed 18 songs during his time on stage, and he was well received by the Pala Casino audience.

Ayala is still able to sing and play the accordion, but he had to sit down during the concert and at the end he had to be helped up from his chair and off the stage. The audience wasn't sitting. Many of them were standing and taking photos from their mobile phones during the band's first few songs.

Numerous audience members were older adults rather than young adults, but a significant number of those were dancing in the aisles. The cheering for Ayala and for master of ceremonies Jose Luis Guerra was frequent throughout the performance.

Ayala and Guerra were joined by drummer Jose Luis Ayala, who is Ramon Ayala's nephew, and by percussionist David Laure, bassist Guadalupe Martinez, and second voice and guitar player Angel Ramirez. Guerra also reviewed many written notes members of the audience were placing on the stage.

In 1963, Ayala was a member of the duo Los Relampagos del Norte. He and singer/guitar player Cornello Reyna recorded the single "Ya No Llores" (the English translation is "Don't Cry No More") in 1963 and recorded an album by that name in 1964. In 1971, Reyna embarked on a solo career while Ayala became part of Los Bravos del Norte.

A professional career spanning more than 60 years (including prior to Ayala's first recording opportunity) and dozens of albums didn't allow Ayala to perform all of his hit songs. That, rather than any deterioration in Ayala's musical skill, was the limitation of the Aug. 27 concert.

Those in the audience were able to hear him sing and to see him play the accordion, and he did both well. The "El Rey de Accordeon" title was earned rather than hereditary and is not a guaranteed lifetime position, but Ayala still holds that crown.


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