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 band Jefferson Airplane during a concert in Albuquerque. Tasked by legendary concert promoter Bill Graham to “keep people off of the stage” Graham hired him as security for the remainder of the tour. During the tour 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, Jessi Coulter, the Gatiln Brothers and Tom Paul Glaser, but quit because the offstage action was too wild for him.
Jose continued to write and sell music to artists as well as writing commercial jingles. At age 20, he was introduced to jazz which changed his perspective on music. He played bass and guitar in small clubs around the country, introducing himself and his music to legendary jazz artists including Milt Hinton, Ray Brown, Zoot Simms, Peter Appleyard, Lou Soloff, Howard Ellis, Art Pepper, Dexter Gordon and many more. Jose stopped playing rock and roll to concentrate on jazz and acoustic music. He toured with anyone who would have him, often playing local clubs as a solo after concert dates.
In 1980, he was cast in the TV mini-series "Wild Times", his first acting job, when a casting director saw him sitting in a bar in Santa Fe and thought he had the perfect "mean bastard" look they were looking for. His role? Mexican man. He went on to play Mexican Man in several other films. His experience spurred Jose to write about the movies for small magazines in Albuquerque, Denver and Atlanta.
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 hundredsof 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 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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