In Austin, Patricia Vonne is known as a vibrant performer who sings from the soul. Watching her perform transports one to a hacienda in old world Mexico with all the passion that the Latin culture is known for. She is an accomplished participant in the music industry, having performed her unique brand of music, Roots Rock, for the past 14 years. She tours internationally, but she calls Central Texas her home. Austin Fusion was lucky enough to sit down and talk with Patricia at a recent photo shoot and the results were awe-inspiring.
Vonne began her music career in New York while she was pursuing other career paths in the late nineties. She speaks highly of her brief time in New York, acknowledging that she would not be where she is today if it was not for her experiences there. “Everyone has their own story from NY — hard experiences — but they make you a better person,” she says.
She played her first South by Southwest in 1999, and was known as a New York band, but she remembered thinking, “If only they knew I was from Texas.” While the energy and excitement of the East coast helped push her career forward, it was her connection to Texas and her family that brought her back home.
Vonne’s music flourished after the move, connecting her to her Latin heritage and the culture she grew up around. “Being from Texas, San Antonio especially, what better way to keep our heritage alive than through music,” she says. Vonne will go even further in describing her music as a pastiche, “a hybrid formed from all the different artists from San Antonio.”
The beauty of Patricia Vonne’s music lies in not only the culture element (one she feels very proud of) but also the people she has been able to collaborate with. The first, and arguably her major influence, was Tito Larriva and the Cruzados.
She credits the Cruzados, who now are known as Tito and Tarantula, with a lot of her choices within her career, including singing bilingually. “Listening to the Cruzados, Tito always had a Spanish song, his thumbprint, and you knew it meant a lot to him. That also struck a chord with me,” she explained. Having a wonderful role model is important in any creative field, but when you get to work with them things that never seem possible begin to happen.
Amongst these seemingly impossibilities that have come to pass is her first tour in Europe. Tito asked her to be a part of an 8-week tour because of a song she wrote for him. From this experience Vonne grew as an artist and also got to experience an audience like no other. The European audiences have such a reverence for Texas music and find my music exotic because I infuse the use of castanets with the flavors of Mexico and Spain. They come up to me after my show and have said “Thank you for bringing us culture.” And “Even though we don’t speak Spanish, your music speaks to us” Tito also told me I would find the best audiences in Germany which is one of my best markets.”
Vonne continued to talk about all the people in the Austin and Texas music industry that she has been able to collaborate with, including her heroes, from Alejando Escovedo, Doyle Bramhall, Johnny Reno, Rosie Flores and Del Castillo all of whom she has co-writes on her upcoming CD. The impressive list goes on, but what stands out about these collaborations with these timeless musicians is that Vonne put herself in their field of vision.
“A lot of the collaborations have come from sharing the stage with them and meeting them after the show,” Patricia explains. What became apparent was that she made these encounters happen. She credits New York for this, saying, “It taught me to be the first in line and if the door is closed, go through the window to find an alternate way to get what you need. Find the opportunity that works for you. “
She has done just that. Many of these collaborations end up on her records, ones that she still listens to years after release because of the musical expertise that is put forth. She will always be a fan first.
One of her frequent collaborators, Rosie Flores, has also helped Patricia stretch her musical ability and learn a new style. Patricia has always been a fan of the Stray Cats, citing Brian Setzer as her favorite guitarist, and with Rosie’s help she is now learning how to write and perform Rockabilly. Rosie has allowed Vonne to “unleash myself in the rockabilly vein.” Two of her collaborations with Rosie “This Cat’s in the Doghouse” and “Wild Card” will be featured on her new CD as well.
When listening to her albums you are exposed to her unbelievable talent, and the legends she has worked with, but you are also a witness to a time capsule of her life. Each of her albums tells a story of where she has been, and where she is going. Vonne never intended to become a world-touring musician; all she wanted to do was write one song.“I didn’t expect too much of myself in the beginning, but then you always surprise yourself with what you can do and where you can go,” she remarks.
As for the future, Vonne has multiple new roles on the horizon, not only is she currently working on her fifth album, but auditions for film roles, having just been cast in Machete. She is also involved in a non-music venture with fellow musician/realtor Don Harvey called Austin Music Realty (www.austinmusicrealty.com) a division of Stanberry and Associates. She earned her license 3 years ago to help finance her own projects and to give back to the community.
Whatever Patricia Vonne decides to participate in, one thing will be certain, she will be herself. She has learned from every experience, every encounter, and because of this she appears a genuinely fulfilled person. Her music touches the soul not only because it comes from a place of value, but also because it is what makes her happy.
“It’s not about selling records, it’s about my identity, being true to myself. If you are true to yourself, anything is possible.”