The Tejano music of the Texas and Mexico borderlands has been transformed into an exciting dance music by the charting, Grammy- and Latin Grammy-winning Los Palominos. While their repertoire includes polkas, rancheros, boleros, corridos, ballads, and cumbias and their instrumentation is based on the traditional sounds of accordion and bajo sexto, the Uvalde, Texas-based band has crafted a very modern-sounding music thanks in no small part to their unique use of keyboards and samplers — particularly, but not exclusively — in cumbias that have resonated with younger listeners who, until they came along, couldn't be bothered with conjunto music. In fact, Los Palominos helped pioneer the renewed popular interest in Tex-Mex.
Formed in 1986 as Los Tremendos Pequeños (Little Giants), Los Palominos featured four (of six) Arreola brothers: Johnny on accordion, James on bajo sexto, Jesse on drums, and Jorge on bass. The group's vocal sounds reflected the harmonic interplay of Johnny and James, who were influenced and guided by their father, himself a veteran conjunto musician.
Attracting the support and encouragement of Armando "Mando" Lichtenberger, Jr. and Oscar De La Rosa of La Mafia, Los Palominos were able to secure a recording contract with Sony Discos. Their 1994 album, Corazon de Cristal, attained gold status, while the title song became a hit in the United States and Mexico. Los Palominos reached a creative apex with their album Por Eso Te Amo (That's Why I Love You), which spent seven weeks in the top slot of the world music charts and earned a Grammy award as Best Tejano Performance of 1999. They also won a Latin Grammy, but the Arreola brothers rejected it, joining fellow winners Los Tigres del Norte and Los Temerarios in protest against the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (LARAS) for discriminating against Mexican regional and traditional music. They moved from Sony to Fonovisia for 2001's Obsesion, which was itself nominated for a Grammy for Best Tejano Album. Tragedy struck the group early in 2001 when Jesse was killed in a tour bus accident. He was replaced by Julio, the youngest of the Arreola brothers.
Though they left Fonovisia for Urbana in 2003, the group released numerous award-winning compilations and original recordings through 2006, including Poco Mas, Tocame, and Atrevete. Their chart run at Top Latin and Mexican Regional Albums continued in the 21st century with Me Enamore de Un Angel in 2008, Siente el Amor in 2013, and 2016's Piensalo (their debut for Martzcom Music/Freddie Records); all placed inside the Top 20. After rigorous touring throughout the American Southwest and northern Mexico for more than a year, Los Palominos took a break to spend time with their families. In the spring of 2019, they re-emerged with the title-track single and video for their next album, Con la Fuerza de un Huracan. The single featured a guest appearance by Óscar Iván Treviño of Duelo on guitar and vocals. The full-length was issued by Martzcom in September. ~ Craig Harris