Fermin Canales, leader and founder of Los Talismanes was born in 1940 in Realitos, Texas to Celestino and Eva Canales. As a young boy the family moved to Alice, Tx. and that is where Fermin grew up and went to school.
As a thirteen-year-old he was interested in playing the guitar. Canales said, "My dad played guitar, so there was always a guitar around the house."
In 1956 Canales joined the armed forces. He served two tours in Viet Nam in 1969-1972. Later in the 1970's he served in Germany.
While there he played with Manuel Guerrero's group, which consisted of Guerrero, who was known as the singing sergeant, his wife Dora Guerrero, Miguel Cortes, Fermin Canales, and Manfred Siehl who was German as the name indicates. They would play at U.S.O. clubs and also local German clubs in area cities. They would play traditional conjunto music and in a separate act they would play traditional mariachi music. The group was together for about two 1/2 years until Fermin was called back to the states in 1978.
In 1980 Canales went back to Germany and this time he formed his own conjunto group which was called Los Tejanos del Sur and consisted of four musicians from the Air Force and Fermin on bajo sexto/vocals and his wife, Angie on vocals. They would play U.S.O. clubs and area German clubs as well. The group was together for about a year until the Air Force men were transferred back to the states.
While playing the different cities in Germany the group had a strong loyal following of migrant Spaniards and Germans, as well as the U.S. servicemen. You could say that Canales was one of the pioneer musicians that introduced live conjunto music to the Germans back in the 1970's.
In 1982 after returning to the states and living in San Antonio, Canales retired from the armed services, serving 23 years of active duty and retiring as a Sergeant 1st class E-7.
Fermin moved back to Alice and in 1984 joined the group, Los Coyotes de Elma y Goyo. The group consisted of Gregorio Vasquez on the accordion, Elma Vasquez on vocals, Adan Canales on bass, Fermin Canales on bajo sexto, and Jose Ortiz on drums. The group was together for about a year.
In 1985 Fermin joined the Los Luceros del Norte which consisted of Ernesto Arenas on the accordion, Adan Canales on bass, Sam Canales on drums, and Fermin Canales on bajo sexto. The group was together for about 7-8 years.
In 1992-93 Canales formed his own group and with his father's suggestion called it Los Talismanes. The group consisted of Rolando Gonzalez on the accordion, Adan Canales on bass, Sam Canales on drums, Israel Canales on vocals, and Fermin Canales on bajo sexto. They would play area clubs, weddings, quinceneras, and parties. This being a part time job for most of them, after a few years they disbanded to spend more time with their families.
Fermin regrouped Los Talismanes with new musicians and the current members are Andy Viera on the accordion, Marcos Ybanez on bass/vocalist, Adan Vela on drums/vocalist, and Fermin Canales on bajo sexto. They have toured throughout the state playing in the panhandle, San Antonio, Houston, the Valley, and the South Texas area.
The group has recorded five records. The first one was on a local label Anco Records, the 2nd with Freddie Records of Corpus Christi, and the last three with Hacienda Records of Corpus Christi. The latest recording, which will be out in mid-January or the first part of February is called "Noches de Sombra."
The name Talismanes is unique for a conjunto group. It stands for magical objects. It was introduced by the Caldeos and Egyptians before Christ. One of the most famous talismans was King Solomon's ring. The most popular ones are the ones related to the astros, color, and metal.
If you have a chance to see The Talismanes de Fermin Canales in person you will not be disappointed with the quality performance and showmanship of this group. As Mario de la Garza, of Mario's Club in Premont says, "They are the most professional of conjunto groups to play at my club."
L to R clockwise: Fermin Canales, Adan Vela, Marcos Ybanes,
and Andy Viera (photo: Hacienda Records - Corpus Christi, Texas)