Connie Valenzuela with Tony Balbinot holding Richie Valens' guitar.
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Growing up with no computer, cell phone, Ipod or even a television, is just not that common anymore, anywhere, but for Tony Balbinot, bandleader and singer/songwriter, guitarist for the Cadillac Angels, that's exactly how it was. Born in a small, rural farm town in Illinois, in a house without even a television, only a radio and an old record player, Tony's connection to the big music world was limited to WLS Radio out of Chicago and used 45 rpm records from a jukebox in a diner where his single mother was a waitress. Musical influences varied widely from Johnny Horton to Jimmy Reed, and when his small family packed up and moved to California the spectrum widened and bloomed. With Tony's growing interest in electric guitar, Link Wray, Dick Dale, BB King, and John Fogerty began to heat up his second hand stereo and his fingers.
Midwestern roots combined with a western migration spawned the guitar driven musical and songwriting style that makes the Cadillac Angels music so special. Now, with over a million miles of touring, and over ten full length original CDs, the band has toured most of the USA and over seven countries in Great Britain and Western Europe. Their first recordings won them "Best Roots Demo" at Austin's prestigious South by Southwest Music Conference, and their songs have been featured in major full length films as well as commercials.
The Gretsch Guitar Company recognized Tony's talents and awarded him an artists endorsement. He was invited to perform at Gretsch's 125th year anniversary celebration, where he shared the stage with legends, Dick Dale, Billy Gibbons, and Jimmie Vaughn. Tony's picture now hangs in the Gretsch Hall of Fame in Scottsdale, AZ right between Chet Atkins and Brian Jones. Not bad for a country boy from Illinois!
The Cadillac Angels have never caved to musical fads or commercial pressure. They have elected to remain a trio, feeling that the honest sound of one electric guitar, bass and basic drums best suits the integrity of their style...a style born out of the American heartland, traveling the world, yet still their music rings true Rock and Roll...American music.
"Tony (Balbinot) did not choose this path...it chose him, and we are the better for it"