By: Karen Gavis (Caller.com)
Nick Gaitan and the Umbrella Man, a four-member musical ensemble hailing from Houston, will perform at the venue Friday. There’s no cover charge for the show.
And who is the Umbrella Man? Well, the Umbrella Man is actually a song.
“A song my grandfather used to sing when I was kid,” Gaitan said. “It was a song that was popular in the 1930s.”
Roots run deep in Texas, so when Gaitan and a friend were in a shop and discovered an album containing the song, the memory revived and Gaitan named his band.
That was after Gaitan’s five-year (2007-2011) run as upright bass player in Billy Joe Shaver’s band.
Nick Gaitan and the Umbrella Man perform a wide range of music including country, rock, jazz, swamp-pop and roots. Gaitan also teaches English and writes many of the band’s lyrics. In 2008, Shaver recorded “I Found My Weakness In You,” a song Gaitan wrote.
Gaitan writes what he knows and said people listening to his songs often recognize the places around Houston he writes about.
Before forming the band, Gaitan and the band’s accordion player, Robert Rodriguez played together in another band, Los Skarnales.
Rodriguez, who met Gaitan in college, has played the accordion 15 years but originally wanted to play guitar, he said. His father could not locate a guitar teacher and instead found accordion instructor Leonel Pulido.
“I didn’t even know what an accordion was,” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t gotten away from it since.”
Rodriguez, who now also teaches music, said the accordion is a popular instrument in Tejano music and because of Pulido, he has been able to continue the legacy.
“(Pulido) noticed I wasn’t a regular student,” he said. “I was asking for music theory.”
Rodriguez said the accordion deserves more credit than it gets.
“It’s just unique,” he said. “That’s what made me stand out from the rest of the crowd.”
Rodriguez said Nick Gaitan and the Umbrella Man provides band members a way to express themselves in many genres. However, because the group doesn’t fit in a precise category, officials at venues are not sure if they should hire them.
Executive Surf Club manager Daryle Cuherpin said his venue tries to provide a variety of music and he believes people appreciate it.
“We’re just putting roots music into a modern age,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”
IF YOU GO
What: Nick Gaitan and the Umbrella Men
Where: Executive Surf Club, 309 N. Water St.
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Information: 884-7873 or visit www.executivesurfclub.com
WHO’S WHO IN THE BAND
Gabriel Alanis (drums)
Nick Gaitan (upright bass)
Robert Rodriguez (accordion)
Johnny Rojas (steel guitar)