Third Man Records is excited to announce Introducing Martin & Los Primos, the first-ever recordings to be released by Tejano music pioneer and Tejano ROOTS Hall of Fame member Martin Solis. The album is out now digitally and on vinyl. The limited-edition opaque turquoise vinyl version comes with a red/white/green tricolor 7″ featuring non-LP bonus tracks, and is available at TMR’s Detroit storefront and select Detroit-area indie shops. Watch a trailer HERE, and purchase the LP on black vinyl HERE. Hear the digital version HERE.
Pick any genre – rap, rock, pop, folk, country, whatever you like. Can you think of an artist from that genre that was inducted into its hall of fame without any recordings released? And if one were to exist, what would that say about the artist’s impact, influence and importance? Is this scenario even possible? Born  1929  in  San  Antonio,  TX,  Martin  Huron  Solis,  Jr.  and  his  family  came  to  Michigan  in  1942as  migrant  farmworkers  and  soon  settled  in  the  Detroit  area.  The  Solis  family  was  part  of  a  wave  of  migration  during  the  1940s  that  brought  thousands  of  Texas-born  Mexican-Americans,  along  with  their culture, north.
Though he played guitar from an early age, Solis eventually fell in love with conjunto music, a South Texas  style  defined  by  the  combination  of  accordion  and  bajo  sexto,  a  Mexican  twelve-string  bass  guitar. He taught himself to play the bajo sexto and joined up with accordionist Manuel Rivera, playing for tips in bars around Southwest Detroit, the heart of Detroit’s Mexican-American community. In the late-1950s, he and his cousin Willy Huron, a saxophonist, formed Conjunto Los Primos (“The Cousins”), at the time one of only a handful of conjuntos in the Midwest. Solis became a favorite in Detroit based on a vast repertoire of songs he compiled by following the latest hits coming up from Texas.
Their  musical  style  was  more  complex  than  the  conjunto label  suggests.  The  inclusion  of  Solis’s  cousin Willy on saxophone blurs the line between working class conjunto music and the more middle class orquesta tejana, which includes more sophisticated string or horn sections.
Likewise, they played a couple of polcas, the primary song form of the conjunto tradition, but also lean more toward styles like boleros and rancheras, song forms with roots in Cuba and Mexico. Solis’s vocal
performance, too, showcases a fuller sound more in line with ranchera singers like Vicente Fernandez and Jorge Negrete than the thinner vocal tradition of conjunto style.
Fast forward to modern day—Solis is now part of this seldom seen echelon of artists who released no  records  in  their  lifetime  and  still  was  inducted  into  the  Tejano  Music  Hall  of  Fame.  The  power  of  his  live  performances  and  trailblazing  creativity  in  blending  styles  with  educated  nuance  gave  him  significant credit among peers and critics alike. This power, coupled with the intrigue of Tejano music thriving so far north of the Rio Grande, has made his 2018 induction into the Tejano ROOTS Hall of Fame—previous inductees of which include pioneers such as Narciso Martinez, El Conjunto Bernal, Beto Villa and Tejano superstars like Selena — that  much  more  special  and  rare  and  puts  Mr.  Solis  soundly in a class of his own.
Mr. Solis sadly passed the year after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, but it was during this time that Solis’s son Frank discovered a grocery bag containing forgotten reel-to-reel tapes of his father’s home-recorded music while helping declutter his attic. Frank took the tapes to his childhood friend (and production manager at Third Man Pressing) Eddie Gillis. Gillis, who was impressed with the recordings and quality of the preserved tapes, shared them with the team at Third Man. It became quickly apparent that this document of music was an historic artifact that needed to be heard. Amazingly, while still with us, Solis was able to finally hear and hold the legacy of his music on vinyl, as his test pressings were delivered for final review.
As  a  natural  fit  with  Third  Man’s  broad  interest  in  the  preservation  of  music  history,  Third  Man  Records is humbled to release the first ever recordings of Tejano pioneer Martin Solis.