Jose Antonio Ponce-A Quick Hit
What a life. Willis Alan Ramsey once trashed his hotel shower. Ice T admitted to him that he really didn't like playing a cop. Bob Odenkirk offered him a day old donut and Eva Longoria asked him to teach her the lyrics to Las Manaintas.
A songwriter for forty-five years, Jose began his life in music, performing in clubs and coffeehouses at age 16. When he wasn’t on stage, he had to stand outside of nightclubs to avoid breaking the law. He could work in a bar, he just couldn’t hang there.
At age 17, he sold his first song to Al Kooper in 1971 for $500.00.
At age 18, Jose was hired to load in sound equipment for the Jefferson Airplane concert in Albuquerque. Tasked by concert promoter Bill Graham to “keep people off of the stage” Graham hired him as security for the remainder of the tour. During offtime, he swapped tunes with band members Jack Casaday and Jorma Kaukonen.
In 1975, Jose went to work as a road manager for the Led Zepplin North America tour, setting up and taking down concert venues with one of two sound and lighting crews. He left mid-tour to work on the original Outlaw tour with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others but quit because the offstage action was too wild for him. (Waylon was wilder than Zepplin's John Bonham.)
Jose continued to write and sell music to artists and write commercial jingles. At age 20, he was introduced to jazz which changed his perspective on music. Jose stopped playing rock and roll to concentrate on jazz and acoustic music and played jazz bass and guitar in small clubs around the country, introducing himself and his music to jazz masters like Milt Hinton, Ray Brown, Zoot Simms, Peter Appleyard, Lou Soloff, Howard Ellis, Art Pepper, Dexter Gordon and many more. He toured with anyone who would have him.
In 1980, he was cast in the TV mini-series "Wild Times" when a casting director saw him sitting in a bar in Santa Fe and thought he had the perfect "mean bastard" look. His role? Mexican. He went on to play a Mexican in several other films. His experience spurred Jose to write about the movies for magazines nationally.
In 1986, Jose took a job in radio as an on air personality and later, as a record promoter. In 1988, he volunteered for the newly formed New Mexico Music Industry Coalition, an organization dedicated to the promotion of New Mexico artists, producers, songwriters and engineers. In 2005, he took over the organization as owner and producer and re-christened it the New Mexico Music Awards. In 1990, he joined the national folk group the Windsor Creek Trio and continues to tour with the band as its bassist.
Jose has hundreds of stories from a lifetime in music and film, from breakfast with Brenda Russell to dinner with Barry White. With over 1500 songs in his repertoire, he can play anything, country, jazz, blues, folk and more. Jose’s shows are entertaining and crowd pleasing.
Jose continues to write and sell his music to national and international artists. You can still see him in the occasional film or TV show. He has written several books and co-produced a number of music documentaries. As a New Mexico Music Commissioner and through the New Mexico Music Awards, he works to promote New Mexico musicians as artists and to film and television.
Copyright 2020 by Jose Antonio Ponce Photo by Jon Carr
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