Like a Master Chef who pulls from a wide range of influences, accordionist Abel Casillas has created a sonic cuisine that reflects Texas’ rich musical tapestry. The Fort Worth native is best known as the singer/songwriter/arranger for Squeezebox Bandits, the uber-popular country/Tex-Mex quartet that includes Vincent Saldivar (guitar and vocals), TY Ybarra (drums and backup vocals) and Austin Gardea (bass guitar).
For a band that averaged five live concerts a week, the shuttering of bars and music venues has hit the quartet especially hard. Casillas said livestream shows have offered an important means of staying connected with fans. One show reached 15,000 unique viewers.
TELL US ABOUT THE LAST TWO MONTHS
"I’ve been doing a lot of streaming with Austin Gardea," said Casillas. "Brooks Kendall [with The Post at River East] has also been supportive by putting us on his stage. My expression and joy come from singing and playing so I’m glad things are opening slowly. I think in a few months, we will be doing live shows like before."
Fort Worth has been very receptive of the quartet's music, inquiring about merchandise and future live performances.
DESCRIBE THE STYLES FOUND IN YOUR SOUND
"Tex-Mex music is influenced by traditional Mexican and American music, just like the food," according to Casillas. "It’s kind of like Spanglish. Tex-Mex and Tejano [music] are just about the same thing."
"Tejano music has accordion, but it kinda hangs back. A Tejano band typically has horns, brass, keyboard and lots of synthesized sounds."
Casillas notes he is the one who pulls all the styles of music together based on what he prefers to play. The band's sound is more geared toward country music due to the relatable nature of the old country songs. Fans enjoy classic tunes with a twist thanks to the accordion.
The band's audience draws a wide and varied crowd, catering to Anglo, Mexican and Latin American music lovers.
DO YOU SEE PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES RETURNING?
Gig opportunities are slowly coming back online with live shows recently in Mineral Wells, at The Post at River East and Sammy's on the Lake. You can view Squeezebox Bandits' upcoming event calendar here.
Though booking live shows, safety remains a priority for the band. Casillas is asking bar owners what their plans are for keeping guests as well as the band members safe. A good example of how this is being done locally is at The Post at River East where the band will perform a Wednesday evening concert series weekly through June. Reservations (which are strongly recommended) may be made by calling 817-945-8890. Social distancing guidelines will be strictly followed. View the venue's social distancing measures here.
DOES YOUR BAND HAVE ANY BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS?
The band recently signed with State Fair Records based out of Dallas to produce their third album set to be released in early 2021. The album will likely be all original songs.