In 2014, Chano Cadena celebrated 60 years of bringing the finest in Conjunto music to the public and his fans. Since 1954, he probably has the longest running working conjunto based mostly out of Alice, TX. Chano was born on October 31, 1937, on a ranch near Palito Blanco--a community ‘muy chiquito’, 14 miles south of Alice, Texas. The family would listen to phonograph records—78’s of Narcisco Martinez and Lydia Mendoza as well as listen on the radio to the latest Mexican rancheras beaming from Mexican stations across the border. His oldest brother Jose was the first to pickup the accordion which inspired Chano to learn the instrument at around 10 years old. His first accordion was a toy plastic accordion but his father, Don Ignacio Cadena, immediately recognized his son’s talent so he sacrificed and saved up enough dollars to buy him a real Hohner accordion and began taking him around the ranchos to play for neighbors and friends. Father and son would walk miles to these ranchos with Chano’s accordion in a pillow case. Soon after he was being taken around to local cantinas to play for patrons who would pay him nickels and quarters for polkitas, valses and popular canciones. It was when he started going to school in Alice that he began to form a proper conjunto. His first recordings were advertising jingles for a department store recorded for Tejano music pioneer Armando Marroquin. From then on, Chano recorded several times with Mr. Marroquin as a session musician and soon after he recorded with his own conjunto. In the 60's and 70's, Chano's conjunto toured all over Texas and even in states such as New Mexico, Colorado and Florida. It was on this Conjunto circuit that the conjunto shared a stage with many legendary greats such as Tony De La Rosa and El Conjunto Bernal. Many successful musicians such as Juan Sifuentes, Manuel Solis and Ruben Naranjo began their careers as a member of Chano's conjunto. In the late 1960’s and 70’s, Chano’s conjunto assembled perhaps his most talented lineup featuring the vocal duo Tonio Vasquez and Fidel Cavazos. The 80’s and 90’s brought another great era as the conjunto recorded many successful albums with Beltran Garcia’s Canasta label out of Kingsville. Chano continues to play in and around South Texas with his conjunto till this day at bars, dances and private parties. Chano Cadena was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in Alice, Texas, in 2001. He was also inducted in 2007 to the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum in San Benito. In 2013 Chano was inducted into the Conjunto Hall of Fame in San Antonio.
Chano Cadena y Su Conjunto (Alice, TX)