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CASIANO, JESUS S. [EL GALLITO]

Jesus Casiano
"El Gallito" Jesus Casiano (holding the accordion) recorded from the 1930s into the 1950s. Texas Music Museum.

CASIANO, JESUS S. [EL GALLITO] (1900–1977). Jesus Casiano (also known as “El Gallito” [the “little rooster”]), an early accordionist in San Antonio, made his first recordings during the mid-1930s. He was born in Texas on December 23, 1900, to Encarnacion Casiano and Herminia (or Erminia) Sanchez. He was possibly living in Laredo before he moved to San Antonio. Jesus was already listed as a resident in the Alamo City at the time of his father’s death in 1931.

Although he began recording about the same time as other early accordionists such as Bruno Villareal, his pre-conjunto-style accordion techniques featured a strong focus on left hand bass-and-chord elements. Casiano continued to include the tambora de rancho into the 1940s. He specialized in polkas like “La Bien Polvada,” which he recorded in 1935, accompanied by bajo sexto and a tambora. After World War II, his popularity was eclipsed by the newer generation of accordionists like Valerio Longoria and Tony de la Rosa. Longoria, however, remembered hearing Casiano from time to time at dances in the later 1940s. Casiano continued to record into the 1950s on Rio Records, a small label located in downtown San Antonio and owned by Hymie Wolf. 

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Jesus S. Casiano died at Santa Rosa Medical Center in San Antonio on October 27, 1977. He was buried in San Fernando Cemetery No. 2. During his lifetime he was married to his wife, Juana, and they had four sons and two daughters. His recordings are featured in several compilations on Arhoolie Records, including Norteño & Tejano Accordion Pioneers, 1929–1939.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Manuel Peña, The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-Class Music (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). Chris Strachwitz, “San Antonio’s Conjuntos in the 1950s,” Arhoolie Records (https://www.lib.utexas.edu/benson/border/arhoolie2/sanantonio.html), accessed February 17, 2016. Juan Tejeda and Avelardo Valdez. eds., ¡Puro Conjunto! An Album in Words and Pictures (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001).

Clayton T. Shorkey

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Clayton T. Shorkey, "Casiano, Jesus S. [El Gallito]," accessed October 22, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcadf.

Uploaded on March 25, 2016. Modified on August 2, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.