Flaco Jiménez is a musician's musician. While he's not a household name, the 73-year-old accordionist pioneered the modern conjunto genre, an American-born style of music has reached many spheres of Latin America over the past 200 years. Along the way, Jiménez made friends in high places; he appeared on recordings with Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson and Carlos Santana, among hundreds of others.
The San Antonio native has released 13 studio albums, including four in the past six years. While he only found mild chart success on a couple of songs -- "Me Está Matando" and The Mavericks' "All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down" -- Jiménez made enough of an impact on the music world to be named one of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award winners by the Grammys.
"It's hard to say thanks to everybody that's helped me out on my long road," Jiménez told My San Antonio. "I've enjoyed every mile of it. I'm still enjoying it. If my health is OK, I'm going to keep on playing. That's my life."
Billboard uncovered an excellent interview Jiménez did with PBS concerning the origins of conjunto music (often referred to as "Tex-Mex"), which revolves around the button accordion.
"Conjunto music was born here in the United States," Jiménez said. "Sometimes there is confusion -- just because we come from Mexican descent doesn't mean it came from Mexico...I started making conjunto more progressive because of the versatility I believe in."
That progression molded the genre's current sound.
"I decided, 'Hey, I think it's good to change it a little, and instead of just that conjunto sound...it's going to sound a little more rockish, more jazzier and more bilingual. I think bilingual music is more interesting, so people know what the sound is about."
Check out this 2012 session Jiménez recorded with NPR: