Tucson y Los Amigos reach out
Long-standing Latino band takes stage for tsunami relief
Musician and local barber, Amador Tucson, relaxes with his guitar outside his Main Avenue storefront Tuesday./Photo by Todd Newcomer.

by Amy Maestas

Like everyone else with sensibilities, when Amador Tucson saw the unforgettable and shocking images of the havoc wreaked by the tsunami and earthquake in Asia and east Africa, he began wondering how he could help.

He decided to do one of the things he does best - provide music.

"I got touched so bad when I saw those disasters," Tucson says. "I knew I had to help out somehow, and I immediately thought of my band."

Tucson, the ringleader for the band Tucson y Los Amigos, will bring his talent and his friends to a local audience Saturday. They'll play at the American Legion Hall to raise money they will then give to the American Red Cross. It's the best way Tucson can think of to rally peoples' support while also providing a blasting-good time.

"Music is good therapy for people to get out and dance," he adds before picking up his acoustic 12-string guitar and soulfully singing "Quiero Que Sepas" (I Want You to Know).

Locally, Tucson and his bandmates have been providing musical remedies since the 1960s. A lifelong La Plata County resident, Tucson honed his musical skills while watching family members entertain. It was part of his mixed Latino and American Indian heritage. He explains that his family is sociable, always learning new music from others as they attended various celebrations.

"Growing up, it seemed to me that at every occasion, they had to have music."

"Growing up, it seemed to me that at every occasion, they had to have music."

Over the years, Tucson and his band have culled a reputation for livening up a party, making it evident how much his childhood experiences influenced his adult life. The bandmates: Paul Montoya, LeRoy Garcia, Roger Mestas and Tucson, have known each other since they were teen-agers. Together, the group frequented Mestas' father's dance hall on La Posta Road.

As they matured, they always found a way to keep up with music, no matter the era. The band's repertoire proves it, with an impressive variety of genres. It's easy, Tucson says, to move from playing a Spanish ranchera to the latest hit by George Strait, with a dose of rock-n-roll in between. Of course, there is the Latino favorite Freddy Fender.

Tucson said the band tries to stay current with music. There's no general rule he follows when spanning generations of tunes - other than identifying a tune's danceability. Their flexibility and mass appeal allow the musicians to play anniversary parties, weddings, quincineras and Durango's annual Cinco de Mayo festival.

Tucson y Los Amigos are banking on their reputation in the community to draw a large crowd to the benefit dance. Tucson says he gets consistent kudos from people in Durango about the merriment the band brings to a party. Because of that, he says he'll continue to play where people can lose their inhibitions and cut a rug.

"All of the people in this community are so great about helping each other. It's because of their support that I knew I could do this dance."

Tucson is committed to giving every cent of proceeds to the Red Cross. To achieve that, he's paying the band members out of his own pocket. The way he sees it, it's not a sacrifice or burden. Instead, it's a part of his humanity that he knows he shares with millions of others worldwide. Durango may be small, he says, but the impact can potentially be huge.

"It feels good, and it's from the heart," he says. "They need all the help they can get to get back on their feet and survive."






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