Los Huracanes del Norte mark anniversary with hits compilation.
The year was 1972 and a storm was headed their way on the night when the Garcia brothers recorded their first album as Los Huracanes del Norte (the Hurricanes of the North).
Forty years later, the former laborers who worked the fields picking fruit are still entertaining audiences who know them for their signature norteno sound that relies heavily on the accordion and a 12-string instrument known as the bajo sexto.
"We are not the best group in the industry," band member Guadalupe Garcia says. "But we are the band that wants to work the most."
For four decades, the brothers have maintained a steady following of fans and released more than 60 albums. Today the band, still mostly made up of family members, includes Heraclio, Antonio, Francisco, Rocky and Jesus (Chuy) Garcia, as well as Jose Luis Mejia, who isn't biologically related to the family, but is considered as close as a relative.
The seven members divide their time between New Mexico and Mexico, and continually tour in both places with additional stops in Latin America. To commemorate its career milestone, in June the band released a 40th-anniversary album, "Los Huracanes del Norte: 40 Aniversario" (Vene Music), featuring 40 of its biggest hits. It has sold 3,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The brothers, who began performing as children, were born and raised in Mexico, but later emigrated to the United States. One of their biggest hits initially was the catchy "Son Tus Perjumenes Mujer" ("It's Your Scent, Woman"), an ode to women.
As the hits came, the band adjusted to the music scene by performing a variety of styles of music as part of its norteno repertoire. The group acknowledges that, in order to stay relevant, it has had to evolve. That move came in the form of adding three new members: Antonio, Rocky and Mejia, who are the youngest of the group.
"The band realized that they needed to transition," says Agustin Montoya, the band's label manager. "The group needed to tweak the sound, and that's why we brought on the younger guys, who bring new arrangements to the music."
The results have paid off, according to Texas-based music executive Carlos Avila, who isn't affiliated with the band. "They have stayed true to their sound, but they fuse it well with a new generation of musicians in the band."
The unmistakable sound has an uptempo pace combined with a variety of norteno rhythms from several regions of Mexico. Los Huracanes also mix up their music with the brass-based banda style that keeps people dancing at most of their shows, Avila adds.
The band has sold 1.8 million albums in the United States since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991. The group has charted 20 top 10 albums on Billboard's Regional Mexican Albums chart, including two No. 1s (1999's "Norteno 2000" and 2000's "En Que Trabaja el Muchacho"). Its biggest seller is "28 Huracanazos" (2003), which has sold 213,000. On Regional Mexican Airplay, the group has notched 36 songs, of which 13 went top 10 and two hit No. 1.
When asked about how else he plans to celebrate the band's anniversary, Chuy says he hopes the fans bring some special gifts to the shows. "A little bottle of something couldn't hurt," he says with a chuckle.