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The Stand-Up Guy

by Yucatan Times
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As a young child, I was introduced to a phrase that would forever echo in my memory: ‘He’s a stand-up guy… he shook hands with Sinatra.’ This was a phrase my grandfather often used, a testament of character and significant connections in reference to a man he had lent a substantial sum of money to, and who would later become his partner in a music production company, radio programs, and artist representation.

My grandfather, Don Alonso Palomeque, and his brothers embarked on a daring foray into the radio business in Yucatan. They acquired the XEZ-600 frequency, home to a diverse array of Yucatecan, Mexican, and Cuban artists. These artists, who would spend some seasons in Merida Yucatan and work in the station, were part of a vibrant competition with the station of Don Rafael Rivas Franco. The nomenclature of his station eludes me, but I vividly remember my grandfather’s anecdotes about the exceptional content this rival radio station offered, which only served to heighten the competition and make the radio scene all the more thrilling. 

It was a fortuitous encounter during a trip to Cuba in the 40s that would alter the course of my grandfather’s life. He struck up a friendship with an American musician, composer, and arranger, a man of respect, who had close ties with several American artists of the time. This friendship would lead to a transformative new venture: representing artists for presentations in the opulent cabarets of Havana. The new friend’s strong reputation, earned through his successful presentation of Sinatra at the Hotel Nacional in 1946, opened the door -and wallet- with my grandfather. By the 1950s, Cuba had become a hub of show business, and my grandfather, thanks to his friendship, secured numerous contracts to present renowned artists at his radio station in Merida Yucatan, Mexico. 

Frank Sinatra (center), Joe and Rocco Fischetti, at the Havana bar Sloppy Joe’s.

In the following years, my grandfather, who already partnered with such a colorful character in Cuba, secured contracts with great Cuban artists such as Chori, a percussionist who could make music from any object. In a matter of minutes, with the most unlikely junk, he would put together a marimba in front of the public with which he would play all kinds of melodies. These were true showman personalities of the time, and my grandfather, among many other businessmen of the era, offered El Chori a work contract abroad. However, the great percussionist preferred to stay in his slum of Marianao instead of receiving applause and recognition abroad, a testament to his deep-rooted love for his homeland and its music.

Likewise, my grandfather, Don Alonso, he was part of those who financed Nat King Cole’s presentations and tried, unsuccessfully -it should be clarified-  a contract to present Sinatra in Cuba once again, and then in Merida Yucatan. The story’s point is that my grandfather never signed a single piece of paper with that musician, composer, arranger, and, by then, artistic promoter, nor did he ever need to. The man was “a stand-up guy… who shook Sinatra’s hand.” 

Excerpt from the book in process: “Prosapia”.
José E. Urioste Palomeque for Times Media Mexico
May 01 2024
Merida Yucatan, Mexico.

José E. Urioste is a highly accomplished Yucatecan businessman and a seasoned Business Intelligence professional with over 25 years of experience. He is a member of several boards of directors, and his expertise has been sought after by many organizations over the years. For the past two decades, he has contributed to mass media by writing articles on business-related topics and hosted radio shows on political analysis. Mr. Urioste is also a published author, with three books to his name. 

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