I’m back in Tucson and today I went to my favorite restaurant.
In October 1994, I moved to Tucson to work at my family’s restaurant. Shortly after I got here, I got hired to play in the band of Ismael Barajas. We played latin dance music of various kinds. In 1995 we got hired to play in the courtyard between El Charro and the newly constructed ¡Toma! bar. The courtyard would be packed with dancers.
The exchange of energy between the band and these dancers, who were just a few feet away, was intense. One of the greatest musical moments of my life happened in this courtyard, during a solo I was taking, when the big man who was the nephew of the band leader grabbed the brim of his hat while dancing and spun himself around, facing front again just as the band hit the next downbeat. It felt like we were levitating off the ground. The only problem with this gig was that in between sets they would feed us whatever we wanted, which meant that every week I would order a carne seca chimichanga elegante style , eat the whole thing, and then be so full that it was hard to play for the second set. I love this place and everything it represents.