REVIEW: Tremoloco “Curandera Volume 1”


Tremoloco – Curandera Volume 1

This is new – something tagged “cantina music.” From what’s described it’s an eclectic roots band out of California — a mix of Sonoran Gothic folk, Gulf Coast roots & the delightful Tex-Mex Americana. Should be interesting.


There are 12 tunes packed tight on this well-made creative soup of delicious tunes. Produced by the team of Cougar Estrada (piano/drums/keys/percussion/vocals) & Tony Zamora (vocals/basses/organ/ guitarron/electric & acoustic guitars/ukelele/organ). Melodies were recorded in studios in Texas & California. All captured in the groove & swing of the many genres. It all coagulates on Tony Zamora & Tremoloco’s 5th LP Curandera Volume 1 (Drops June 2–Slo Poke Records).

This is their first new set in more than 3 years by a band that has always been a collective of various musicians since their inception in 2007. They kick off with “Mezcal,” — a splendid early Santana-feel, yet with its own distinctive sound. Then a segue into the beauty of “Dixie Overland Highway,” a slight swerve into Little Feat territory with an excellent storytelling lyric.

If you enjoy the Carlos Santana guitar sound or the melodic arrangements of Little Feat the first two songs will engage your ears. It’s also the variety of instruments that come into play – each provides inventive sound. Dabs of accordion mixed with a low whistle. It works. The band has shaped a remarkable musical identity.

By the third song “Junk Drawer,” it turns toward a Tom Waits/Jon Dee Graham stretch. Cool raw voice mixed with Tex-Mex guitars of the Texas Tornadoes type & predatory drums. Quite a good showcase. More country-inspired is the duet with Hannah Underwood — “The Man Who Never Cries,” with its vintage complexion done with style.

“Mas Que Nada,” has a nice Los Lobos accordion feel & the guitars are smartly played with a 50s tone surrounded by Spanish percussion. Melodic & soothing throughout.

Two thumbs up for this album.

The core band with Zamora-Estrada are Roberto Rodriguez III (accordion/vocals) with special guests Ed Poullard (Cajun fiddle), Padraic Conroy (penny whistle/low whistle), Billy Watts (electric/acoustic guitars), Bob Bernstein (pedal steel), Willy T Golden (lap steel), Tetsuya “Tex” Nakamura (harmonica/jarana), Jeffrey Paul Ross (electric/acoustic guitars), Richard Bredice (electric/acoustic guitars) & Jacob Rodriguez (drums on “Mexicano”).

The Austin, TX sessions were produced by Bradley Kopp (acoustic/electric guitars) & included musicians Marty Muse (pedal steel), Kevin Hall (drums) & Hannah Underwood (vocal). The El Paso sessions were produced by Mike Hernandez (guitar/guitarron/vihuela) with Odalis Aguirre (vocal), Eduardo Garcia (violins) & Hugo Hernandez (trumpets).

Highlights – “Mezcal,” “Dixie Overland Highway,” “Junk Drawer,” “The Man Who Never Cries,” “Mas Que Nada,” the superb “One Hand,” “Monterrey,” the beautiful “100 Years,” “Mexicano” & “Curandera.”

Color image courtesy of their band website. The 58-minute CD is available/Music Samples @ &

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