estimates his Tejano music collection at “about 3,000 CD’s.”
That’s not bad for a kid who preferred rock-and-roll music and
didn’t like Tejano growing up in Brownsville, Texas.
“Now that I’m
older and after I came up here, I just saw the need for Mexican
music, so I started listening to it and tried to get into it,”
he recalled. “I speak Spanish fluently, so I just started to
work with people. I enjoy Mexican music now. But when I was a
kid, I didn’t. I was a Beatles fan. You know, every kid growing
up then, it was about rock, rock-and-roll. I just grew up and
got into Tejano music—and that’s what I do now.”
With the need
to keep his show fresh and play the latest Tejano music, his
collection continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
buying it, but a lot of it they just send to us,” said Gutiérrez.
But Freddy G
refuses to call his long-time radio gig a second career.
hobby. It’s more of a hobby,” he explained. “There’s no money
involved, so, no, we don’t make any money. We don’t charge for
any announcements or anything. It’s all for the public.”
But it might
as well be a second career. A show host has to spend an
inordinate amount of time preparing for a four-hour
broadcast—lining up guests, gathering information, and deciding
on that day’s playlist.
time studying the new music. I spend the whole week gathering
all the new music so that when I go to the studio, I have the
latest of the Tejano music,” he said.
born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, and migrated to Northwest
Ohio at the age of 17 to work the farm fields. He attended
Owens Community College and decided to settle in the area.
worked for pipeline companies for over 38 years before he
retired, including a 26-year stint with Findlay-based Marathon
Oil. He now resides in Dunbridge with his wife of 42 years,
Lucy. The couple raised four adult children—one boy and three
girls. All remained in Northwest Ohio, except one who now lives
in Denver. All four attended Bowling Green State University.
passion for Tejano music goes well beyond the airwaves.
Gutiérrez works as a show promoter and helps to line up big-name
music acts for local summer festivals, such as Midwest
LatinoFest and the annual Ss. Peter and Paul festival.
“I go to all
the shows here. Now that I’m retired, I go to Texas quite a bit.
I spend four months out of the year in Texas,” he explained. “I
just go over there for the festivals and do a lot of promoting
music, Freddy G interviews guests and promotes upcoming Latino
events across Northwest Ohio. His most recent show just before
Thanksgiving featured an interview with Elaina Hernández
of El Corazón de México dance troupe, which had a recent
promoted the Dec. 5 Toys for Sylvania Tots baile at Sylvania
Area Family Services, featuring the Tejano Sound Band and the
Nov. 28 Yvonne y Grupo Fuego show at the Latin American
Club in Defiance.
Freddy G interviews diva Yvonne
Ramos-Ybarra and Grupo Fuego
conducted an in-studio interview with Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra
on her recent win at the Tejano Music Awards as Best New
Tejano Female Artist and how it continues to pay big dividends
for Yvonne y Grupo Fuego, as she seems to be on the airwaves
weekly with one media outlet or another.
also featured her husband and bandleader Michael Ybarra,
as well as her parents, where the couple revealed a few upcoming
plans for the band. Yvonne y Grupo Fuego now has an agent in
Dallas helping to promote their music across the country. That
will come in handy, as the band puts the finishing touches on
its second CD.
an independent artist, it’s hard, because you don’t have a big
label backing you,” said Ms. Ramos-Ybarra. “You have to do that
footwork yourself. With us being here in the Midwest, sometimes
you don’t know all those avenues.”
interview also recapped the band’s recent trip to San Antonio to
perform and attend the Tejano Music Awards ceremony where Yvonne
was nominated individually and the band collectively for awards.
“It was more
(that I dreamed). Honestly, before we got there, I tried not to
think about it,” said Ms. Ramos-Ybarra. “It was a little
overwhelming—and you don’t want to get your hopes up.”
stated there wasn’t a competition between the top five groups
and singers, she admitted she and the band did what everyone
else probably did: going online to “size up the competition.”
After listening to the other musical acts, she had decided “it
was anybody’s ball game” to win.
“It was like
I was in a dream. After you win the award, they take you
backstage to this media room. You feel like you’re walking in a
maze,” she said. “It was overwhelming. What was really surreal
is before the awards, they take all the artists performing and
the top five and the presenters and take us to a ‘hole-up
hotel,’ where we were all mingling together. Some people you
wouldn’t expect come up to say hello, and they’re the bigger
names in the Tejano industry.”
revealed that just before she won the award for best new Tejano
female artist, the show’s organizers pulled a bit of a ruse to
get her backstage. The producers sent a text asking her to come
to the lobby, because a presenter had backed out at the last
moment. So she was nervously waiting in the wings, thinking she
would read another winner’s name when her own was called by
“All of a
sudden, my category comes up on the screen and it starts hitting
me that ‘hey, wait a minute, I’m not here to present,’” she
recalled. “The waterworks had already started and I was crying
before I even hit the stage. I couldn’t believe it. When I hit
the stage, I honestly felt dizzy. I thought I was going to pass
ceremony was streamed live online, so Yvonne’s family members
were huddled around a smartphone at her grandmother’s 85th
birthday party. On the long ride home from Texas in the group’s
RV, a relative posted a video of the family’s own celebration
back in Northwest Ohio, which Yvonne admitted, with a laugh,
started another bawling episode.
expected to see a big production, the friendly atmosphere and
professionalism of the San Antonio-based awards weekend
“exceeded her expectations.” Grupo Fuego performed the night
before the awards at a pre-ceremony event at Bar West, alongside
a band from Florida.
awesome to see people from other areas. There wasn’t so much
pressure, not being from Texas,” said Ms. Ramos-Ybarra.
“It was a
great feeling down there. To be accepted in your genre of music
in the capital, it was great to experience it,” added Michael
Ybarra. “We got to meet a lot of people, shake a lot of hands,
and make a lot of new friends and a lot of new connections.”
Tejano Music Awards may have been a turning point for the music
genre in general, because so many artists and groups won awards
or participated from other cities and states, such as Arizona,
Colorado, California, and even Idaho.
all these artists that are finally being recognized and to show
that Tejano is not just in Texas—the boundaries are everywhere,”
Michael noted. “It was a nice feeling to see that.”
father Rubén admitted he had never attended the Tejano Music
Awards before, despite his long and successful musical career.
But he stated he and some old friends became bandmates and are
practicing an 18-song set to return to active performing.
the guys I’ve got in the band, they’re seasoned musicians.
They’ve been playing for a long time,” he said. “I’m ready to
play. I’m ready to play.”
revealed his father played accordion and his grandfather played
guitar—so the family’s musical roots run deep. The family played
in the basement at gatherings all the time.
her son and daughter both have natural singing voices, but like
her, they are terrified to take the stage. But Ms. Ramos-Ybarra
somehow manages to fight off her stage fright.
Most of the
Grupo Fuego band members have known each other for more than 20
years, which Yvonne stated is more than a musical act, but more
like a “family.”
wonderful, because we’re all still close to our faith. We do a
lot of prayer together. I really love that about us,” she said.
“Now, we’re all grown up. In the 90’s, we were all just kids.
Now we’re all grown up, we have our own families, and we know
what’s important. God first, family second, career third.
Anything outside of that doesn’t work.”
So even after
20 years, Freddy G still elicits new information out of veteran
and upcoming Tejano acts alike, while promoting a sound that
faded for a while, but continues to make a comeback as the
Latino population grows by leaps and bounds.
Not bad for a
radio show— WBGU-FM 88.1—started by a bunch of Latino
BGSU students back in 1978 by the now-familiar names of
Benito Lucio, known then as El Super Mex and now
retired from Ohio Job and Family Services but who still dabbles
in radio and TV in Columbus, and his then-classmate, future
community activist Margarita De León.
Other familiar names as DJs in those days included Richard
Romero of Lorain and Roberto Torres of Swanton.
Rico de La
Prensa contributed to this report.