The 13 years Ken Horne played guitar in the Dragons made that dirty glam-rock band a vital part of San Diego’s home team. They released seven albums and played alongside Mastodon, X, and went on a tour with their musical heroes MC5. The Dragons paid their dues at now-defunct bars such as the Velvet, Bodie’s, Megalopolis, and the old Casbah. “We played the Bacchanal with STP before they were STP,” says Horne. “We once played this small place on El Cajon Boulevard called Grannie’s. Mario [Escovedo, Dragons frontman] lit off firecrackers in there one night.”
The Dragons, who broke up in 2005, did tours of Europe and Japan. They played South by Southwest ten times. But all those years did little to help Horne prepare for his current gig.
Horne plays the jarana, a small eight-string guitar, in Mariachi El Bronx. “It’s basically a folk instrument. We all had to learn to play acoustic.”
Mariachi El Bronx is the ethnic, acoustic sidecar for L.A. punkers the Bronx. Horne joined that L.A. punk band when he came back from a two-year stay in his native Japan. “I paid a visit to Tokyo right after the Dragons. I had to come back because the longest you can stay there is two years at a time. Then your visa runs out.”
Horne was in the Dragons when he met the guys in the Bronx at their first public show in 2002 at the Troubadour.
“Around the time I joined [the Bronx], Fuse TV asked them to come up with an acoustic set. Punk doesn’t really translate to acoustic. So for fun they tried to write songs around mariachi.”
The result, seven years later, is the band continues to divide its time between two distinct entities. The third Mariachi El Bronx record was released last week.
- Friday, November 21, 2014, 8 p.m.
3112 University Avenue,
“Right now we’re in the mariachi mode.”
Like another L.A. band, Metalachi, Mariachi El Bronx members wear the festive charro uniforms and are skilled musicians. But unlike Metalachi, Horne says the Bronx mariachis don’t camp it up. “We take the Los Lobos approach [to traditional Mexican music]. In fact, our guitarrón player, Vince Hidalgo, is the son of Dave Hidalgo of Los Lobos.”
Their local show is the last date of a West Coast tour. They head off on a European tour with Gogol Bordello that begins December 1. A rock-and-roll cruise with Flogging Molly follows in March.