Paying dues and leaps of faith seem to be the defining actions of artistic individuals who seek and attain the lucrative results of the precarious music industry. These artists are special because they inadvertently, or cathartically, embed their joyful yet arduous journey into their songs, providing listeners with a more rich and robust experience. (The Nashville manufactured country-pop imitators can now promptly exit stage left.Thank you.)
In Del Rio, Peter Herrera III, or PH3, is one of those music artists who has ground down the wheel while logging countless gigs throughout the Lone Star State. From small Whitehead Memorial Museum events to opening for major Texas country music stars in Austin and San Antonio, playing alone or with his band, he has done it all.
“I do a solo gig a lot…that’s actually my livelihood, Herrera said. “It was a big leap of faith having to take that step and stop working a 9-to-5 job…but I think at the end of the day I was meant to do what I’m doing now.”
And he’s crushing it. Herrera is constantly in demand and his band Texas Roots Revival is headed to the studio to record a full-length album. PH3 authored all of the
“There’s so much going on right now…I’m super excited about that to have a full band behind it and that’s excited to be with me. I think it’s going to open up some really big
doors for us, for me,” he said. “I’ve got radio stations clear across the country that are ready to listen to the music.”
Closer to home, Herrera has recorded a solo single, entitled, “Del Rio.” A popular tune in his performance set list that has resonated with folks in the border town.
“I also have a song that I wrote about Del Rio coming out real soon. That’s already been recorded. It’s ready to be uploaded,” he explained. “We’re waiting for the video to be produced…I can’t wait for that.”
Music came early to Herrera. You could say he was born into it.
“I was raised in church. I was raised in a Pentecostal church and…a lot of people don’t know much about the Pentecostal churches, especially Hispanic ones, they don’t mess around when it comes to music. They get down in there,” he commented.
He took up drumming when he was nine years old but seeking an outlet for his teenage angst, he found therapy in the guitar. His father taught him three chords and the rest he picked up by ear.
And with a little bit of unintentional help from Staind frontman-turned country artist Aaron Lewis, Herrera was ready to embark on the journey.
“Aaron Lewis is the reason I started playing music, man. I saw Aaron Lewis do “Outside” by himself and in front of thousands and thousands of people in Biloxi, Miss. My jaw was on the floor and I said I want to do that. I feel that is what I need to be doing and so I did,” Herrera said.
PH3 prefers not to define his music feeling that paints artists into a corner, but categorizes it without really categorizing it.
“You get put into a box enough as it is in the industry. And it’s a hard enough industry to be in…and if you don’t fit into a certain genre then you need to be over here…I think if I had to…it would just be country, traditional with a little Texas rock n’ roll feel.”
Ramon’s medal wins the day In 1940, several hundred Mexican-American men reported for duty at Camp Bowie in Brownwood, Texas, home of the U.S. Army’s 36th Infantry Division or “Texas Division.” Legends were born that day. Particularly in Company E, which was comprised of Hispanics only.
“It’s a story that should have been told many, many years ago,” said Dave Gutierrez, author of the book, ‘Patriots From The Barrio.’ “This is a story that…I’ve always felt should have been written 60 years ago.”
In his non-fiction work, Dave Gutierrez chronicles the accounts and highlights the patriotic heroics of his cousin Ramon Gutierrez and several other Mexican-American soldiers who served in Company E.
“I wanted to show Mexican-American contributions to this nation. Real, significant Mexican-American contributions,” he said. “These men were part of our greatest generation and they should not be forgotten. That’s why I wrote the book.”
The Rapido River crossing serves as the climax to the book where the 36th Division lost 2,000 men in a span of 48 hours in one of the colossal U.S. Army blunders during World War II. Though “Patriots From The Barrio” spotlights a number of soldiers, Ramon Gutierrez’ story is what really drives this narrative.
Arguably, the most interesting individual account in the book is how Ramon Gutierrez was awarded the Order of Patriotic War 2nd Degree from the Soviet Union.
“He became one of only a few Americans to be decorated for valor on the battlefield by the Soviet Union during World War II,” Dave Gutierrez said.
The Soviets had sent an observer to watch the 36th Division landing at Salerno. He overheard what Ramon Gutierrez had done at the landing and was impressed.
When Ramon Gutierrez’ Company E unit disembarked waist deep in water at Salerno his squad was immediately pinned down by German tanks and machine gun fire. After witnessing the demise of two of his comrades, Ramon Gutierrez, with uncontrollable rage and fury, initiated a charge of the machine gun nest. While rapidly approaching the nest he was struck in the arm and subsequently lost his Browning automatic rifle. Despite losing his rifle, he continued the charge and used a hand grenade to dispose of the nest.
“And then he jumped into the foxhole, killed the last German soldier in hand-to-hand combat,” Dave Gutierrez commented. That action earned him the Silver Star and the Soviet medal. On his return from Italy, Ramon received the Order of Patriotic War 2nd Degree degree in Washington D.C. The medal had been given to the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, by the Soviet ambassador, Andrei Gromyko.
The intriguing stories from “Patriots From The Barrio” have not gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Actor Wilmer Valderrama’s production company has purchased the film rights and is planning to create a six to eight-episode series based on it. Valderrama is known for TV-series, “That ‘70s Show” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” plus films, “Fast Food Nation” and “Larry Crowne.”
But at the end of any story it’s the depth and essence of character that matter.
When Dave Gutierrez heard the call to write this book he knew it was to curate and catalog important stories about the accomplishments and sacrifices of Mexican-Americans.
“I think Latinos in general, we need to look in the mirror and figure out how we can record and document our own history because that is the key that I feel that we need to improve on as Latinos.” (The Casa de la Cultura will be hosting a Dave Gutierrez lecture and book signing (the just-released 2nd edition that includes new stories) May 25.
For more information, please visit authordavegutierrez.com or http://www.lacasadelacultura.org.)
How many times have you stood in the kitchen or sat down at the table and thoughtlessly performed the mindless task of preparation or consumption? I know. You don’t have to answer. It can be boring and
rote. So, why not inject a little bit of culture into your life? Rendering that sweet evening dessert or hot breakfast beverage into something more than just a semi-satiating hand-to-mouth action. Mexican culinary tradition could be the game-changing ingredient that alters your entire experience. A hot-chocolate experience from Chiapas? 28-ingredient mole poblano from central Mexico? Handcrafted molcajete and machacador prep tools?
HERNAN, the brainchild of Del Rio native Isela Hernandez, can provide these hard-to-obtain cultural goods to you directly or indirectly. “We really give the customer an opportunity to fully experience what it’s like...we really facilitate the bringing of the best of Mexican culinary traditions to the U.S. market and also to the world,” Hernandez said. While she primarily targets wholesalers, she said online marketing is now a realistic and effective way to directly reach the consumer. “We’re partnering with other social media...personalities...generally, entities that...share our values as far as upholding Mexican culture and
culinary traditions and who love our products to promote them online and to allow people who might not otherwise have access to...both the kitchenware and the food products allow them to experience them at
home and delight in them.”
It’s a small business that has made a big splash. Hernandez has received sofi Awards (the Oscars of the specialty food industry), been featured in Martha Stewart Living and recognized by the U.S. Department of State for her work with producers in Mexico. Her progressive sensibilities matched with her love of Mexican culture and a ripe market space gave birth to this unique business of specialty culinary items. She explained that, “I wanted to utilize that talent to do something that was more socially positive and I decided that would be something that was a combination of something that was promoting my Mexican culture and also sort of taking advantage of the market space in that people love Mexican food...a lot of it often isn’t even crafted in Mexico. So, that’s where I saw my niche.” Hernandez began with the kitchenware line understanding that authentic kitchen prep tools from Mexico were somewhat scarce in
most areas of the U.S. HERNAN’s hot chocolate frother brought her into the food space.
The Cornell-educated Hernandez said that all the products are clean and 100-percent natural; the ceramic serveware and cookware items lead-free. But most importantly, she endeavors to provide a satisfying cultural experience for the customer. “These are not just items. It’s a culture, it’s a history I’m trying to promote...I think we do a really good job of describing what this is for,” she said. Locally, you can find HERNAN products at the Whitehead Memorial Museum and in San Antonio at H-E-B Central Market. Please visit the website at hernanllc.com for more information and online ordering.