Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 1:30 pm
“That first time I performed with him, it was just an honor,” said Eguia, of the time he joined Hernandez for a show at the Pharr Events Center. “It’s very humbling to be able to share the stage with such a legend.”
When I contacted the 34-year-old Edcouch-Elsa native, I assumed that “Lucky” was a nickname. I was wrong.
“When I was born, I was a stillborn baby,” Eguia said. “So the doctor’s revived me and they told my mother, ‘This is a very lucky baby, he’s lucky to be alive.’ So my parents named me Lucky; Joe is from my uncle.”
He learned to play guitar early on due to the influence of his grandfather. His introduction to conjunto music started when he met the late Benny Layton.
“My mother used to cut hair there in Elsa, she had a beauty salon — Rita’s Beauty Salon,” Eguia said.
“Mr. Layton would go by and cut his hair there. One afternoon, Mr. Layton saw me messing around with a guitar, he told my mom, ‘Hey you know what, I want him to enroll in (Edcouch-Elsa’s) Estudiantina (Music Program).’ So I enrolled in Estudiantina when I was a freshman. Then I saw Mr. Layton play the accordion and that’s when I got hooked on the accordion. I was about 15 years old.”
The year he got “hooked” on the accordion was the same year that Eguia lost his mother. Right before she passed away, she bought her son his very first accordion at Melhart’s Music Center.
“It was called a Gabbanelli 101,” Eguia recalled.
During this period, Layton would become an important figure in Eguia’s life.
“Mr. Layton was my mentor, my teacher,” Eguia said of the beloved program director, announcer and musician. “Basically he’s the main influence that I had growing up through high school, as far as for conjunto music, tejano music and all kinds of music. He made us listen to the Beatles, Buena Vista Social Club, jazz, rock, anything that had to do with music.”
After a few years of learning the accordion under Layton, Eguia secured his first professional gig with Alma Pulido, the sister of Bobby Pulido, at the age of 17. He soon recorded with her, embarking on a career that lead him to work with other regional music acts like Siggno, Elida Reyna y Avante and Frijoles Romanticos.
He recently signed with Freddie Records and is scheduled to release Suerte, his first solo album, on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
“Amor Escondido,” the first single off his upcoming album, will start airing on select radio stations this week.
“This isn’t easy, it’s a job just like any other job and you have to be dedicated,” Eguia said. “It’s a crazy market, you never know what will hit. Putting in long hours is the key.”
When he’s not working on his music, he’s working at Besos y Caricias, an adult day care in Mercedes. He describes his day job as doing a little bit of everything — cooking, a floor assistant, a driver and whatever else is asked of him.
As for tonight, he is eager to share the stage once again with Little Joe y La Familia. Eguia said this upcoming event brings back memories of his late mother Rita, who he deeply misses.
“It takes me back to one Sunday morning, I was watching “‘The Johnny Canales Show,’” Eguia said. “I was about 14, (with) my mom we were watching it together and Little Joe comes on. My mom, God rest her soul, said, ‘Un dia mijito, un dia tu vas a estar tocando enseguida de el.’ (‘One day son, one day you will be playing next to him.’)”