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The great Puerto Rican troubadours
--careers beginning or covering the 1930-1939 decade

In 1930, the Cuarteto Flores (of Pedro Flores) records a song in aguinaldo truya style interpreted by Pedro Marcano, Ramón Quirós and Fallito. Even though these artists weren't-- strictly speaking--troubadors, their interpretation of traditional music was routine for popular groups of the period, especially during the Nativity season.
      The year 1932 was a historic one for our traditional music, marking the birth of the first "urban jíbaros" that we recognize today. In March of that year radio station WKAQ was established and as well, its seminal program “Compay Sico y Compay Tello” (1). The stars of the program were Manolín Martinez, Jesús Rivera Perez and Modesto Navarro. These singers also recorded two songs for the Brunswick label under the stage name, Compay Sico y Compay Tello: Un Baile Jíbaro [A Jíbaro Dance] and El Juicio [The Judgement]. We should note that the Grupo Aurora interpreted the opening and exit songs of the program.

     El Grupo Aurora was made up of the great Maestro Ladí (Ladislao Martinez), Don Felo (Felipe Goyco), Juan Coto, Claudio Ferrer, Leocadio Vizcarrondo, Toribio (Patricio Rijos), Ernestico (Ernesto Mantilla) and others. This group, which launched the careers of our first popular jíbaros-- such as Chuito el de Cayey [Chuíto from Cayey] (Jesus Ríos Robles) and Chuito el de Bayamón [Chuíto from Bayamón] (Jesús Sánchez Erazo)--was called Conjunto Industrias Nativas. It's purpose was the promotion of the native industries of the land. We are told that on that same year, Chuito el de Bayamón becomes the first jíbaro to sing on the radio, which was with the Conjunto Industrias Nativas on the island's first radio station, WKAQ. However, some opine that Chuito el de Cayey was the first jíbaro to appear on the radio. The debate on this subject continues to this day. What we know for sure is that before 1932, Chuito el de Cayey had already been contracted by the Brugal rum company to promote their brand. Besides, Chuito el de Cayey has been named as one of the true pioneers of our traditional music just by the fact that he possessed the following skills: 1) he was a brilliant improviser; 2) he wrote in the Décima style 3) he possessed a great voice.

Some of the songs that Chuito el de Cayey put on record with the Conjunto Industrias Nativas for this period was Mi Mulata [My Dark-Skinned Girl] and Cerca de Cayey [Near the town of Cayey], excerpted below .
      By 1932, a large community of Puerto Rican musicians had settled in the city of New York. Among them was Los Jardineros, los Bohemios Puertorriqueños, Canario y su Grupo, Cuarteto Flores, los Jíbaros de Julio Roqué and others.
     By 1935 we find that the name of the radio program Compay Sico y Compay Tello had become “Los Jíbaros de la Radio.” The opening theme was no longer performed by the Conjunto Industrias Nativas, but rather by the Los Jíbaros de Marcano – Davilita y José Vilar - performing on every daily show the recording of Seis Caliente [see below], which they also recorded on the Columbia label. Note that the recording of that disc takes place in New York, rather than Puerto Rico.
      By 1937 Conjunto Industrias Nativas cut Chuito el de Bayamón's voice onto acetate with songs suchas Vamos Mulata [Let's Go, Dark-Skinned Girl], Viva Borinquen [Hooray for Borinquen (the original Taíno name for the Island] y Garata Matrimonial [Quarrel Between Spouses]-- a "controversia" [clever musical sparring between a man and a woman] with Natalia (Anatalia Rivera).
      By 1939 the mainstream Grupo Marcano, among others, are interpreting jíbaro songs such Siguen Los Tiempos Cambiando [Times Keep on Changing]--a décima written by Chuito el de Cayey--on the Decca label. Chuito el de Bayamón remained on the label recording songs such as El Día de los Sorullos [Day of the Sorullos (a fried corn-meal delicacy)] and Para el Año Nuevo [For the New Year].
      Towards the end of the nineteen-thirties, Conjunto Industrias Nativas changed its name to Conjunto Típico Ladí and recorded the voice of Ramito (Flor Morales Ramos) “El Cantor de la Montaña” --for the first time-- four songs on the RCA Victor label Estrella de Oriente [Morning Star], Pueblos de Borinquen [Towns of Borinquen] Convenio de Amor [Lover's Agreement] y Favor Postrero [Last Favor].

1-José Luis Torregrosa, Historia de la Radio


Jesús Sánchez Erazo

Chuíto el de Bayamón

   Chuíto de Bayamón opens a furrow for the seeds of the Décima by becoming the "dean of the traditional singers" with the Conjunto Industrias Nativas of don Felo and the Maestro Ladí, over the airwaves of WKAQ in 1932-35.
    Chuíto de Bayamón has alleged that by virtue of having recorded popular music in 1926 with the Orquesta de Ralph Sánchez, he was the first singer heard on Puerto Rican radio, but it remains in dispute whether the first singer on Puerto Rican radio was Chuito de Bayamón or Chuito de Cayey.

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Chuíto sings Si Yo Fuera Alcalde, [If I were the Mayor], backed by his Trío Cialeño. The wonderful cuatro backing is provided by the great Francisco "Panchón" Ortiz Piñeiro.

nataliathumb.jpg (8210 bytes)
Anatalia Rivera


    Originally from Cidra, Puerto Rico, Natalia became the "dean of country song" on Puerto Rican radio. She recorded several numbers, mostrly controversias [bouts of teasing insults between troubadours] with Chuíto el de Bayamón and with Ramito.

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Natalia and Chuíto together sing Llegó Chuíto y Natalia:

Here comes Ladí, Natalia y Chuíto...so that my little town can see the whole groupa / The first group that played its first song/ On the first station that there ever was in this land/ before there was television." 

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Natalia and Claudio Ferrer singing  a controversia with relish titled Entre Suegra y Yerno [Between a Mother in law and a Son in law]. You can hear the deep voice of what may be a bordonúa in the background.

Wake up, Celimón,
What are you thinking,
Are you going to keep sleeping,
You big lump on a log...

This fat old woman
Has me up to here,
With all her blabbering,
She needs a good kick...

Jesús Ríos Robles

Chuíto el de Cayey

One of the best décima improvisers of his time and perhaps of all time.
He was born in the Coabey neighborhood of Jayuya, around 1910. He lived for some time in Ponce, but in Cayey he was adopted as a favorite son. He was the one that brought fame to the Aguinaldo Cayeyano because it was the genre he often sang on the radio in his own unique manner.
   He died in New York in 1952 and his body rests in Jayuya, Puerto Rico.

music39.gif (1520 bytes) He recorded only fourteen records, included among them we find Es Que No Puedo con Ella [I just can't bear her] and Una Fiesta Campesina [A country festival].

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Listen to Chuíto de Cayey with the  conjunto Industrias Nativas en Cerca de Cayey  [Near Cayey] (1933).

Visit our page dedicated to Jesús Ríos Robles here.

Los Jíbaros de la Radio

     A popular radio program kind of like a jíbaro Amos and Andy show, was originally titled Compay Sico y Compay Tello. They were three performers: Manolín Martínez, Jesús Rivera Pérez (Mano Meco) and Modesto Navarro who made up this seminal radio program, which transmitted the music of the most brilliant performers of Puerto Rican country music on radio station WKAQ across the entire Island, beginning in 1932.

music39.gif (1520 bytes) Listen to a funny repartee [in Spanish] of the three jíbaros before a judge, concluding with a mazurca:

Compay Tello:  Well, mister judge, it so happens that I was so busy watching Compay Sico, who is a glutton, to make sure he wouldn't gobble up all the food we had prepared for the invited guests.
Judge: Come, come, let's get to the nub.
Compay Tello: I'll go wherever you tell me to, mister judge. Well, that's when I felt a noise like someone getting punched in the face...


music39.gif (1520 bytes) The recording Seis Caliente, with Davilita and José Vilar, was used as the theme song introducing the program for several years. In one spot the lyrics go, "...because I must end, because the record's come to its finish, and Pérez is in a big rush", referring to the announcer Jesús Rivera Pérez.

Visit the Mano Meco page [in Spanish]