Cool Like Raul: Surfer, skater, father, artist

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South Padre Parade

It took the South Padre Parade months to complete this article and finally have it published. It wasn’t because Raul “JunBug” Valdez, Jr. was a difficult interview or anything of the sorts. In fact, if you let him loose, he’ll let it rip and talk about everything from politics to cameras, to surfing and music, and all in one breath.

The fact is that from the time the Parade made contact with Valdez in early March to the time of our final sit down a few weeks ago, Valdez has had a lot going on in his life. As a result, this story was piecemealed together, woven from a conversation here, a photo or two there, all in an effort to capture the essence of this truly interesting and eclectic Port Isabel native.

No one title can easily describe Valdez who is part athlete, part businessman and all artist, but he’s most stoked about his most recent and inarguably most important title he has ever acquired, that of father to a newborn baby boy named Raul Jax Valdez who came into this world in September. Not far behind is his title of loyal husband to his wife Jennifer McGehee-Valdez.

But Valdez is probably best known for his musicianship which is on display at various popular venues including Tejas Brew Pub on South Padre and Bay B Boomers Bar & Grill in Laguna Vista, where he will be performing on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. Readers can also catch his act on Nov. 18 at Philly’s Americana in Brownsville for Cutback Records’ Second Anniversary Music Showcase.

Turning his passion for the arts into a livelihood is nothing new for Valdez, whose love for music was fostered at an early age by way of a musical family. Valdez laughingly recalls his days in high school when he was “asked” to turn in his Tarpon band uniform, leading him to concentrate on the guitar.

“I’ve done the whole band thing, the electric guitar and heavy amp, but that amp got heavier as the years went on and even more heavier trying to get it up the stairs at Louie’s,” Valdez said with a laugh.

These days, Valdez markets himself as an acoustic act along with percussion, mashing rock and blues with a reggae vibe.

Aside from music, Valdez’s other passions include skateboarding, and surfing, two hobbies he’s combined into a business to produce some of the stills you see in the layout above. In actuality, those stills were taken from videos he produces while out on the waves at South Padre.

Valdez said that his clients include competitive and amateur surfers who want the recording to analyze and improve on their technique while others acquire his service simply to commemorate their time surfing or at the skate park.

His non-musical endeavors combine to make Refuge Skateboard Crew, which encompasses everything from clothing and skate board design to videography as well as photography. Valdez can be reached at (956) 434-3804.

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