Carlos Santana and his percussionist, Chepito Areas, have referred to Mike Roman and the Tellstars as “The Santana of the Midwest.” Best-selling author Monica Rix Paxson has entered their inner-world of Latin-rock music and extraordinary lives to write a truly inspirational and fun book to read.
The book is about the youthful initiative and early success of musicians treated by society as social misfits, their painful disappointments and missteps, and the joys of artistic discovery. Their contributions to society unfold as they play a role in the erosion of prejudicial social walls by a process of musical activism. The book gives readers an inside look at the sometimes gritty and celebrity-filled insanity that is nothing short of hilarious.
Paxson has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN and CBS This Morning. She lives in a small eco-village outside of Tepoztlan situated in the mountains of central Mexico between Mexico City and Cuernavaca.
EXTRA: How did it all start?
Monica Rix Paxson: I have known Mike Roman for many years. I met him in court. I was a defendant. He is a lawyer. He is master of music and the legal system. I was completely fascinated. I always loved Hispanic culture.
What was it about the Hispanic culture that attracted you so much?
I lived in Kansas City as a child. So there was the Spanish element in my city. Every year they had a big Mexican fiesta. It was very colorful and unlike anything I was living. It was like another world. I love Hispanic culture. It is very rich, very musical. It also introduced me to a whole cast of characters who were mischievous and were bad boys, but also there was something very good about them. I don’t know how to explain that.
Why did you choose to write about Mike Roman and the Tellstars?
As a writer, you are always looking for that story. It is a good story when the author takes you to a world you wouldn’t go otherwise. They are interesting characters who do interesting and colorful things and are not predictable. This is a story of two Hispanic boys, one from Mexico, who lost his father at a young age and the other from Puerto Rico, who lost his family at a very young age. In the case of Mike Roman, he took center stage with lead guitar and he was in the spotlight. The other character, Roberto “Birdman” Colon, is the king of the roadies, the ladies’ man, the dancer.
How close did you have to work with them to create the reality of the story?
Mike Roman is a wonderful story teller and archivist. My job was pretty easy on several accounts. It was a story that wrote itself.
What about the other characters in your book?
These two characters are the central characters. Carlos Santana is a central character too. He woke up something in the community about the art in the culture. So those are the three main characters. The band has been there for 47 years. There were times with disappointments. There are heart breaking stories as well. We are here to celebrate! In a world of disposable relationships, this is something special.
What is the message you want readers to get out of it and keep?
Two things. One thing: It is an inspirational book. These were boys that were disposable. And they did well. They did remarkable things. The other part is they were scumbags. It is fun to read what happened along the way and the crazy things they did. They had all the bad experiences you can have: the adoration, rivalries, tragedies, the romance and a lot of politically incorrect moments.
What would you say to the writers that are hesitant to make it?
I would love to talk to them and publish their book. (Laughs).
To get more information about “The Tellstars in Orbit, a Roman Odyssey” and to find out how you can purchase the book, go to www.relentlesslycreative.com.
This post is also available in: Spanish