Avid followers of Ronstadt Generations surely have caught on to their recent name change. Newly minted as the Ronstadt Brothers, the band put out a Facebook post on June 9 saying that this is “a new name for a new chapter of this generational band.” Outwardly, this change really may not seem all that groundbreaking; after all, their official website still describes them as “post-modern American West” music that seems to fit the bill of what they’ve been doing all along. So, what does this all mean? What could this name change signify for the band moving forward?
Here’s my hot take on things. First and foremost, Ronstadt Generations y Los Tucsonenses was primarily the brainchild of original frontman Michael J. Ronstadt – the father of the band’s multi-instrumentalist centerpiece Peter Dalton Ronstadt and prodigious cellist Michael Gilbert Ronstadt. Unfortunately, Papa Mike passed away around this time last year. Although, as with all great generational bands, their music lives on with his boys, as well as band mainstays Alex Flores, Mike’s cousin Bobby Ronstadt, Aaron Emery, and Ryan Alfred.
When someone commits themselves to a solid, say, Spotify search of the band however, what they’ll find are tunes primarily penned and sung by the late and great Michael J. Ronstadt. There are tunes performed primarily by his sons, and the whole band shares a dynamic that is still seen in various ways in their newest iteration today. However, with all of their top songs by done by their father who is no longer with us, it would make sense for the Ronstadt boys to give the band a fresh coat of paint to differentiate themselves from the work of a previous generation.
The name change could also significantly help this extremely talented group of Americana musicians move forward with booking bigger and better gigs across the country. While they are a consummate band of songwriters and performers with impeccable harmonies and displays of musicianship and heart all-around, they’ve yet to strike the same sort of mark that homegrown bands like The Accidentals from Traverse City have nationwide, or especially like Tucson’s very own Calexico have been able to either.
Those of us who know them already know they have the skill, the presence, and the drive to be able to make it big. Marketing has, perhaps, always been the greatest behemoth for any band to take on, as has been the case with the Ronstadts. It is, after all, hard to bill a generational band that encompasses so many different genres and pulls from music all throughout history to an outsider without it seeming old-fashioned or like a gimmick that not all booking agents would be happy to entertain on a bigger, theatre-filling scale.
Meanwhile, the whole ‘Brother’ band schtick has been going on for decades now and has worked out to varying degrees to loads of famous artists. So, will the Ronstadt Brothers find their spot in history like the Isley Brothers, Allman Brothers, Everly Brothers, Chambers Brothers, Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers and beyond have? Time will tell, but now they’ve got some young, modern marketing on their side in that new name of theirs that will only assist them in doing so when they’ve already exhibited they’ve got what it takes time and time again to audiences willing to lend them an ear for years as Ronstadt Generations.
The Ronstadt Brothers represent the potential for several steps forward for this Tucson staple, and who knows? Perhaps they’ll follow in the footsteps of that aunt of theirs and be the second outfit with that last name to gain steam and leave a significant mark on the world with their should-be popular music.
In the meantime, feel free to check out this video by Daniel Buckley archiving the road thus far for this historic musical family.
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