Ramon Ayala at Thunder Valley Casino
The “King of the Accordion” and four-time Grammy winner Ramon Ayala played to norteño and tejano fans from both sides of the border, with most fans singing along to every song. A mostly older crowd jammed into Thunder Valley Casino and Resort to watch their old favorite perform. There were a few younger fans peppered throughout, enjoying the music just as much as their elders.
Ayala arrived on stage with his trademark green, white and red accordion. The crowd erupted in cheers and several individuals made their way up to the stage to pay tribute to the man.
Ayala was joined on stage by his band, known as Bravos del Norte. Band members were Mario Marichalar (bajo sexton and vocals), Fidencio Ayala (bass), Jose Luis Ayala (drums and vocals), David Laure (percussion) and Raul Rosales (emcee and percussion).
Ayala played a number of his hits including “Mi Piquito de Oro,” a Latin version of “Cotton Fields,” and “Un Puño de Tierra,” which had the entire audience on their feet.
I’m used to seeing Thunder Valley Casino’s outdoor stage packed with instruments, amps and gear of all shapes and sizes, but when I looked at the stage there was a set of drums, congas and some microphones. I thought for sure they hadn’t finished setting up. The band performs with a minimum amount of gear which consists of a set of drums, congas, two accordions, bajo sexto and a bass.
It was fun watching the crowd react to each and every song. You could see couples looking into each other’s eyes. I’m sure some were remembering when they first met, others their first kiss, all to the music they were listening to at the time. Some songs had people swaying in their seats, while others brought them to their feet. It was obvious they knew each and every song.
Ramon Ayala has been singing, composing and playing his accordion for over 45 years. He has recorded over 100 albums and has been featured in thirteen movies. He is considered a legend of norteño music and is one of the most recognized and bestselling artists of the genre.