Originally Published: October 11, 2011 9:58 p.m.
Ronstadt Generations, with North American roots dating back to 1841, will recount their family traditions in song and stories in a performance Sunday at the Elks Opera House.
Michael J. Ronstadt and his sons, Michael G. and Petie, make up the ensemble that holds tight to family tradition that began with their great-grandfather, a mining engineer who came into the northern Mexico region in 1841 and served five tours in the Mexican army.
In 1889, Ronstadt's grandfather, Frederico Ronstadt started a band, The Club Philarmonico Tucsonense, that played John Phillips Sousa pieces, waltzes and classical Mexican tunes, as well, in the Tucson area. This group even toured a bit in California and was "so similar to what we do now," Ronstadt said. And his father, Gilbert, was a singer and "the best voice in the whole family."
Ronstadt Generations, which formed two years ago, keeps this music alive, Ronstadt said, and each generation has continued to nurture the past and enrich the present with its own compositions.
"The repertoire grows with each generation and gets richer and richer, which is pretty neat," he said.
The elder Ronstadt primarily plays the guitar, Michael G. the cello, and Petie plays bass and guitar, but father and sons all play "anything with strings" and compose songs, as well.
Sunday's audience will very likely hear "material that goes way back - melodies from Spain historically related to Mexico, songs his grandfather loved and songs his father liked, too, Ronstadt said. "We are basically troubadours," performing a mix of songs that his sister, Linda Ronstadt, made famous; songs he grew up with; music he and his sons write; and "music that touches our hearts."
"We are constantly learning new things," he said. "I have an open mind to music and my kids have a huge scope of music they listen to."
"If music speaks to me, I can interpret it and put it back out with what I have to say. It's got to be something you believe in."
Ronstadt Generations perform 2 p.m. Sunday at the Elks Opera House, 117 E. Gurley St. Tickets are $22/$25/$30 for seats on the main floor and the balcony and are available at the box office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., phone 777-1370, Tuesday through Friday and online at www.elksoperahouse.com.