I was reading the Musician magazine sometime in the mid 1990s, when Tish Hinojosa's unusual surname grabbed my attention. Here's someone with backbone, I remember my inner voice telling me. Here's someone who has not become, say, Tish Hines, although I bet she had to withstand some pressure from her manager, record company and God knows who else. So she remained Tish Hinojosa, with a silent "H" in the front and a "j" in the middle that sounds just like an "h". Know your Spanish.
A few weeks later, while checking out the used CD section at the then-thriving Rockaway Records in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon a used copy of her "Destiny's Gate" CD and, out of curiosity, I gave it a listen. I liked what I heard, so the CD went home with me and that marked the beginning of my love affair with Tish's music.
Fast forward two years or so. McCabe's announces Tish Hinojosa's second-ever concert there on August 24, 1997. My Better Half and I showed up and so did our good friends Ken and Marilyn, who had learned over the years to follow my musical recommendations with zero to minimal questioning.
The concert started with three or four songs performed in English, but there was nothing there that grabbed me. Tish appeared to be unconvincing, as she was trying to find her voice and rhythm. Things just weren't looking good, but then, all of a sudden, as she launched into the first Spanish song of her set, one could feel a buzz in the room and, even though I do not speak Spanish, I started "feeling the spirit". From that moment on, Tish kept our feet tapping non-stop, as she masterfully intertwined English and Spanish lyrics, occasionally even within the same song. Great songs were coming in quick succession, as Tish let herself go. Her set consisted primarily of her own compositions, as well as a few covers, which all came with a brief narrative about the respective songwriters. The songs that affected me the most were those about the lives of Mexican immigrants in her native Texas, a subject that she, as the US-born daughter of Mexican immigrants, knows very well.
I was equally impressed with Marvin Dykhuis, Tish's long-time accompanist both in studio and on the road. Marvin played his accoustic guitar with great virtuosity and received many rounds of applause for his work.
After such an auspicious introduction to Tish's live concerts, I felt compelled to spread the word among my friends about this warm and humble Texan singer who, inexplicably and unjustly, is not known by more. Some of my friends listened: Dave & Sylvia (November 4, 2000), Raul & Valerie (August 3, 2001) and Greg & Judy (October 17, 2003) accompanied us to catch Tish Hinojosa at McCabe's and, needless to say, they all turned into instant fans.
I needed more Tish still, so my Better Half and I were once again at McCabe's for her next two appearances there, on November 20, 2004 and May 20, 2007. These shows were great, as well.
Today I own each and every album released by Tish over the years and I do listen to them quite often.
Here's a partial list of the songs Tish performed at McCabe's
By The Rio Grande
Looking For My Love In The Pouring Rain
Manos, Huesos Y Sangre
Tu Que Puedes, Vuelvete
In The Real West
Crazy Wind And Flashing Yellows
When It Rains (Cuando Llueve)
West Side Of Town
San Antonio Romeo
Taos To Tennesse
Reloj (The Clock)
Who Showed You The Way To My Heart
Laughing River Running
Tish loves to lend her support to lesser-known fellow performers, and that is how I got to know Anny Celsi, Duane Jarvis, Joel Rafael and Amy Farris, who, without exception, are deserving musicians in their own right. In her desire to promote her singing friends, Tish even stepped aside and allowed her guests to solo for a song or two. Very nice.
Fellow Texans Bill & Bonnie Hearne were the opening act on August 24, 1997, then on Oct 17, 2003, the proceedings were kicked off by Lysa Flores, an LA-based singer-songwriter.
If you haven't heard Tish Hinojosa's music, do yourself a favor and catch her live or buy one of her albums. You'll be glad you did.