Roger Arocha was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. While growing up in San Anto, Roger was exposed to the music of Henry Zimmerle, Toby Torres, Los Alegre de Terán, and the original "Flaco," Santiago Jiménez Sr. An admirer of the Jiménez family style, their influence is heavily imbued within Roger Arocha y su Conjunto's musical aesthetic. Oddly enough, it was the training he recieved through an electrical trades course in high school that led Roger to play the accordion as well as form a close friendship with one of his musical idols. One day, Roger was taking care of some electrical work at Jimmy's Party Room (Rittiman Rd.; San Antonio, TX) the same day Santiago Jiménez Sr. was set to perform there. Upon meeting, both developed a close friendship. One day, when Roger was doing some electrical work at Santiago Sr.'s house, the late great conjunto pioneer brought out an antique, two-row Hohner accordion. Santiago Sr. was interested in selling the squeezebox and wondered if anyone was willing to buy it. Roger snatched it up right there. Santiago Sr. then offered to teach him how to play the instrument. Roger didn't think twice before accepting his offer.
The first time Roger ever performed on stage, was in 1979 at the same venue his musical journey started. Santiago Sr. invited his 19-year-old accordion student to play the material he was learning for the crowd. Feeling unprepared, Roger suggested he play the following week. Determined, Roger rehearsed until he knew he was ready. Nervous, the young Roger squeezed out "Cotulla" to the delight of the crowd. The beginning accordionist recieved a roar of applause from the crowd afterward.
Roger's first professional gig took place around 1980 at Chilindrina's alongside vocal duo, Alfredo & Emma Guerra. At the time, the group went through many line-up changes as music was still a hobby for Roger. Today, Roger y su Conjunto features a steady lineup. It's members include Raul Gutiérrez (Drums), Alex Garza (Bass), Adam Bosques (Bajo Sexto), and Ramón Gutiérrez (Vocals). The group's latest release, "Canciones Queridas" features many originals written and recorded by Santiago Jiménez Sr. The group worked diligently to capture the essence of the conjunto pioneer. The album recieved a stamp of approval in the form of unexpected phone call to Roger from Santiago Sr.'s son, Flaco Jiménez, letting him know that he heard the album and enjoyed it. Roger Arocha y su Conjunto are currently working on their new album. You can catch them performing live at one of their monthly gigs at Pan Am Plaza.
Roger Arocha y su Conjunto are making their Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival debut on Friday, May 5th at Stubb's Austin!
Check out our interview with Roger earlier this year: