Category Archives: Cultura

Chavez Day-Houston [Photos]

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Parade Grand Marshal Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

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State Rep. Sylvester Turner visiting Chavez Day prior to his campaign kick-off for Mayor.

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¡Que Viva!

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Leader and Activist Maria Jimenez honored for her years in La Causa.

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CM Robert Gallegos mentioned that the Cesar Chavez Parade was among the first events he attended when he launched his campaign for District I.

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Part of the crowd.

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Constable Heliodoro Martinez of Pct. 6 working the crowd.

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The Congresswoman had kind words for Tejano Association for Historical Preservation and Cesar Chavez Street activist Benny Martinez.

It was a well-attended event that must continue to grow. It was great to see Chavez High School students enriched by this celebration, as well as Pct. 6 Constable Martinez challenging the students to get involved as the struggle for civil rights is far from over.

Some kudos must also go to Sylvester Turner for showing up, which is more than I can say about the other announced candidates. As CM Robert Gallegos stated, a couple of years ago, this was the first event he attended and look at him now. One cannot expect votes if they don’t show up. And here’s a secret:  People who show up to these events celebrating activists actually vote–or are willing to listen.

Congrats to the TAHP and all involved for a great event.

 

Saturday, 3/28/15 ~ Cesar Chavez Parade-Houston

I’ll be roaming around with my the DC-Cam, so if you’re around, let me take your pic! Congrats to Maria Jimenez on this great honor.

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Low Voter Turnout: A Discussion

So, I attended the League of Women Voters-Houston’s discussion on low voter turnout. It was an interesting discussion featuring Mark Jones from Rice U., Dick Murray from UH, Hector de Leon from the county, and Mustafa Tameez, a local political wiz. The problem is when you have a nonprofit group trying to discuss voter turnout, the conversation tends to become partisan, or at the very least about issues.

From the get-go, Jones gave us a lesson: People vote based on age, education, and income level. The older, more educated, and better paid one is, the likelier they are to show up at the polls. But if we are to see an increase in voter turnout, it will take an increase in Hispanic turnout.

As it stands, 55% of Hispanics are registered to vote, but in 2014, 23% of Hispanics voted, while 44% and 39% of whites and blacks, respectively, voted. Jones stated that millennials didn’t vote, and the younger generation didn’t vote either. Jones didn’t feel that there could be an increase in education or income levels any time soon, so he suggested more competitive races. But in Texas, that’s been impossible, even at the local level, such as the DAs race of 2014. So, he suggested what has been working in a large number of states: No excuse absentee voting. Pointing to a large percentage of people who receive mail-in ballots returning them to vote here in Harris County, Jones believes that it could work if offered to all voters.

Back to low turnout, Jones stated that it is consequential in Republican primaries. Since the state is Republican, all decisions of who gets elected statewide are being made in the Republican primary. He also mentioned that low turnout is consequential in local bond elections where few voters decide on millions and billions of bond dollars. He suggests perhaps requiring a threshold of voter participation to legitimize the results.

Professor Murray stated there is a pattern of lower and lower turnout. He also stated that he expects turnout to drop for the 2015 city elections, but he has not seen that kind of decrease in Presidential general elections.

He pointed to the obvious regarding presidential campaigns that they maximize resources in important (battleground) states. He also stated that we are seeing less state competition and less county competition. Much of this is based on where voters reside, and that even at the partisan level, voters seem to want to reside in areas in which they find voters that are politically similar to themselves.

Another problem Murray sees is that we have too many elections which seem to suck the oxygen out of the political process. Another is the lack of information for voters to make voting decisions about candidates.

Murray suggested that the state needs to become competitive at the presidential level. That while the state is solidly GOP, Gallup recently found that there is only a 3% difference in how Texans identify themselves. Further, he pointed to the eventual candidacy of Hillary Clinton as a motivational candidacy that will increase turnout in various groups, especially Hispanics. In 2008, Clinton won Hispanics handily in the Dem primary. Add a Hispanic Vice-Presidential candidate (Castro) and you might have the makings of a competitive Texas in November 2016, according to Murray. He also added that if the GOP Anglo candidate adds a Hispanic to their ticket, it would become ever more interesting.

de Leon put numbers to the commentary from the academics in the room. He found it important to find out who is not voting and who is voting and start from there. A few of the stats found something interesting: The less one made, the more likely one was to vote straight party. He also mentioned that low Latino turnout was concentrated in areas which were represented by a Latino/a state representative. Not sure if he was blaming officeholders, but he did state that since minority voters usually vote in Democratic precincts, that there is no way there could be voter suppression by the other side.

Mustafa Tameez, though, did some truth-telling:  Rich, old white people vote, and minorities do not. He went further by talking about one actual reason that this blogger has been mentioning:  People no longer believe in the political system. Further, he stated another fact:  Most in the room were political junkies and that we needed to see beyond our lives and toward the lives of those not voting–actually connect with the non-voters.

Many in the room have also worked campaigns and we know what campaigns are about:  Finding likely voters and targeting them multiple times. Seldom do political professionals think about the non-voting public, and it was refreshing to see a pro admit that in this kind of discussion. Frankly, I got sick of the campaign game because no one wanted to be bold and work the low propensity voters, but that’s for another post. I won’t hold my breath that this will change, though, at least as campaigns go.

Basically, Tameez stated that all of us can do more to help people feel like they are part of the system. I’ll go further and state that campaigns need to do more, too.

So, it was an interesting discussion. The Q&A, though, turned to the partisan, which isn’t hard to do when we’re talking about voting, politics, and especially issues. Professor Murray mentioned what we’ve found in polling:  For Latinos, the top issues are usually Education, Jobs, Health Care, and then immigration. I’ll add, though, that immigration becomes a top issue when Republicans begin to attack immigrants and Latinos, or a Democrat makes promises or executive actions regarding the issue. And that’s how a discussion about Latino turnout becomes a partisan one because even the academics in the room agree that Latinos are mostly Democratic.  I will add that Latino voters react to both sides based on how they act–on the campaign trail and while in office–too.

There wasn’t any discussion of the political back-and-forth of campaigns and how prospective voters react to the media wars. Perhaps that is where we will find something else to discuss:  Messaging!!!

I’ll agree with Tameez, though, that many feel that the political system is the problem. I go back to my what one of my mentors once told a group of Latino activists:  If you have a problem with the system it’s because it’s not your system. Meaning, those who developed the political system didn’t have certain people in mind.

Those words have stayed with me for over 20 years. And in those 20 years, it’s been difficult to find a solution that falls somewhere between an armed revolt that changes everything and the wholesale electoral removal of all incumbents who have made themselves comfortable in this political system that thrives on low voter turnout.

More to come, I’m sure. Thanks to the League of Women Voters-Houston for getting the ball rolling. It was great seeing a packed room for this very important discussion.

 

Chuy Garcia Makes The Run-Off in Chicago

Chuy Garcia, the Cook County Commissioner who forced Rahm Emanuel into an April 7 run-off, is a pretty good candidate. A Durango, Mexico native, he is the son of a bracero whose family ended up in Chicago in 1965. Garcia served his community while going to college–an honest to goodness community organizer. After serving on City Council, he was the first Mexican American elected to the Illinois Senate and was re-elected, only to be defeated by a Richard Daley-supported opponent. After his defeat, he returned to organizing in his community. In 2010, he was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners and was re-elected in 2014.

On Tuesday, after being outspent by the corporate-supported Emanuel 12-to-1, his grassroots campaign earned him 34% of the vote to Emanuel’s 45%. It was a complete embarrassment for Emanuel who boasted some pretty big political bosses on his resume. Emanuel even got an end-of-campaign endorsement from President Obama.

“Today, we the people have spoken. Not the people with the money and the power and the connections. Not the giant corporations. The big-money special interests. The hedge funds and Hollywood celebrities who poured tens of millions of dollars into the mayor’s campaign. They all had their say. They’ve had their say for too long. But today, the rest of us had something to say.”

One must wonder if President Obama and/or Bill and Hillary will get involved deeper in the run-off campaign. Certainly, it wouldn’t look good for Hillary Clinton to side with Emanuel over Garcia. Frankly, I think it best for that little group to stay out, or be bold and side with the right side of history.

One thing is or sure, Emanuel will once again sell out to the highest corporate bidders, so Chuy Garcia needs your help. Donate to his campaign today.

Let’s face it, this blogger has never been a fan of Chicago’s current Mayor. Didn’t like him under Clinton, in Congress, and especially under Obama. Didn’t like it when Rahm Emanuel attempted his own brand  of “comprehensive immigration reform” with Colorado bigot Tom Tancredo. Beyond Obama, I think Emanuel was behind the Term 1 delays on CIR. And to know he’s also the most bought politician in the Chicago Mayor’s race just makes me ill. That Chicago can make history by electing its first Mexican-American Mayor would be monumental.

 

DC Review: Alianza Releases Latest Single, Video Today

Alianza releases their newest single, Todo De Mi, along with an accompanying video, today.

alianzaA danceable cumbia, Todo De Mi is not your standard tune. Most will recognize it as a Spanish version of John Legend’s, All of Me, and Alianza more than does the R&B hit justice with its own style and flavor.

The tune starts with a haunting intro on the bajo sexto and an accompanying slow-roll on the snare drum before taking off into its accordion-heavy cumbia rhythms. Jose Robles’ distinctive vocals and the harmonies help set this tune apart from others, especially the soaring voice on the chorus, a tough cumbia beat and some skillful bajo sexto playing.

Of course, there’s also the hot video that goes with the single.

Alianza was established in 2005 by Jose Robles (Accordion, Vocals); Arturo Robles (Drums); and Jose “Wicho” Escobar (percussionist). Rounding out the band are Michael Davila (Bass); and Oscar Calderon (Bajo Sexto). Over the years, Alianza has gained a following beyond Texas, thanks to two appearances on Sabado Gigante, as well as a 3rd place finish in an Univision Radio/Sabado Gigante battle of the bands.

By 2010, they released their first album, Hasta Una Eternidad. Today, Alianza and their fans celebrate the release of their newest single and its video on VEVO and YouTube, but you can purchase the song on iTunes on March 3.  A second single, Cruel, which is a Spanish version of Magic’s Rude, will be released in May.

The album was recorded at Urbana Recording Studios in Houston’s northside. Urbana is the studio and HQ of Tejano and international super group, La Mafia. The first two singles were recorded by Grammy award winning engineer Maria Gaucin, while the remainder of the album was engineered by La Mafia keyboardist/producer, Armando Lichtenberger, Jr., who has recorded top acts, such as Christian Castro, Marc Anthony, Los Palominos, among others.

The video was directed by Juan Morin of JMPhotography, assisted by Omar Garcia and Servando Garza. The video stars model Rebecca Barrera.

Be on the look-out on iTunes for Alianza’s next big hits and their full-length album during 2015. Don’t forget that video on YouTube! And make sure to follow them on Facebook.


Hoy es el lanzamiento del nuevo sencillo y video del grupo norteño Alianza entitulado Todo De Mi.

Una cumbia bailable, Todo de Mi no es cualquier cancion como es una traduccion del hit de John Legend, All of Me. Alianza le da al sencillo su mejor adaptacion con puro sabor.

La rola empieza con una introduccion de bajo sexto y con un rollo como de tambor militar antes de que empieza la acordeon y la voz. Jose Robles con su voz distinta y las harmonias separan esta cancion de otras que quizas estan en la radio, especialmente la voz creciente en el coro, un ritmo de cumbia con ganas, y el bajo sexto habil.

Pero no nos olvidamos del video calientisimo.

Alianza fue establecido el 2005 por Jose Robles, voz y acordeon; Arturo Robles, bateria; y Jose “Wicho” Escobar, percusiones. Ademas Michael Davila, bajo; y Oscar Calderon, bajo sexto forman parte de este grupo. Durante los años Alianza ha ganado fanaticos en todas partes de los estados unidos y Mexico con la ayuda de dos apariencias en el show de Sabado Gigante. Tambien ganaron el tercer premio en una batalla de bandas producidas por Univision Radio y Sabado Gigante.

El 2010 Alianza produjo su primer album Hasta Una Eternidad. Hoy, Alianza y sus fanaticos celebran el lanzamiento del nuevo sencillo y video y ademas podran descargar la cancion el 3 de Marzo por iTunes. El segundo sencillo, Cruel, es una traduccion de Rude por Magic que se enlaza en mayo.

Los sencillos y el nuevo album se grabaron en los estudios Urbana, cual es el estudio y sede del supergrupo La Mafia. Los sencillos fueron grabados por la ganadora del Grammy Maria Gaucin, y el resto del disco fue grabado por el tecladista de La Mafia Armando Lichtenberger, Jr, quien ha trabajado con Cristian Castro, Marc Anthony, Los Palominos, y otros.

El video fue dirigido por Juan Morin, asistido por Omar Garcia y Servando Garza. Modelando en el video fue Rebecca Barrera.

No se olviden de descargar los sencillos y el disco por iTunes. Y no se olviden visitar el Facebook de Alianza.

 

DC Reviews: The Mavericks ~ Mono

monoThe Mavericks are back with their supposedly sophomore album, Mono. Why, supposedly? Well, for a band that’s been around for 25 years, they’re hardly new in this game; if anything, their return to the scene in 2012 and with the release of In Time, they basically took off from where they left off. And Mono shows just how much more creative they can get, and with the full support of their record company, The Valory Music Co.

Why Mono? Some of my fellow Mavericks fans who are non-Latino were running the online translators trying to find out what their tour title meant, Mono Mundo. The vast majority asked, “Monkey World?” Well, Mono isn’t Spanish; if anything, it’s short for monaural; or, monophonic. In other words, not in stereo, or sound reproduced through a single (one) channel. The sound is simpler, more basic, but the music is all Mavericks. It’s a risk few are willing to take, which makes this album much more exciting.

Most impressive is that The Mavericks recorded this album in a week, recorded live, and with few overdubs to sweeten the sound. Still, the various instruments that make up the Mavericks sound are captured beautifully. From the get-g0, the bilingual Latin-tinged All Night Long soars, along with Raul Malo’s vocals. And speaking of voices, the R&B tune, What Am I Supposed To Do, with its beautiful harmonies, has become a fan favorite as the Mavs tested out several of these songs at the end of 2014.

A personal favorite of mine is (Waiting) For the World to End because the lyrics are fantastic. The clash of horns and instruments, though, make it one of the more powerful tunes on the album. As Raul Malo is quite the balladeer, Fascinate Me, gives him quite the workout as he reaches for uncharacteristic highs that few can achieve. The piano and acordeón accompaniment and horns come together awesomely.

The Mavericks, as always, go in different directions while staying true to their sound. Let It Rain is a folksy tune with Michael Guerra’s acordeon clearly audible. The blues tune, The Only Question Is, gives Malo another workout that is very appreciated. The rockin’ Stories We Could Tell and What You Do To Me will keep fans dancing in front of the stage.

As a bonus track, they give us Nitty Gritty, made popular by Doug Sahm.

12 tracks–all awesome. Get yours today! As always is the case with The Mavericks, you get de todo un poco (a little bit of everything). 

The Mavericks are about to embark on their Mono Mundo Tour (that’s One World), taking them across the US and Europe. They hit Houston on April 16, and I’m hoping they give us another 2 hours and 45 minutes of awesome.

 

 

Album Cover Artist Ruben Cubillos on NBCNews.Com

I’ve known Ruben Cubillo’s work for a long time. I’ve been a Tejano music fanatic since the single digits, and even as a kid in the 80s, I was always interested in the behind the scenes stuff about albums. It helped that one of our neighbors, Bobby (Gallo) Gallegos was a musician himself and had a lot of war stories to tell which included some names from bands like The Latin Breed, Tortilla Factory, Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, and countless others.

I may not have known anything about music production, but I always paid attention to the names of producers, sound engineers, studio musicians, and especially the graphic artists for future contemplation and comparison. It was kind of like a hobby which continues today because I really love this music.

One name that seemed to pop up on albums often was Ruben Cubillos and his company A Big Chihuahua. If you love the first EMI Latin Selena album cover, well, it’s Cubillos who was the genius behind it.

Austin writer Juan Castillo offers up an excellent interview with Cubillos on NBCNews.com about his history in the industry. One bit of great news is that Cubillos is the guy that designed Juan Gabriel’s Los Duo album cover, as well as a new project coming from the legendary Ruben Ramos.

Check out the article.

In this world of music downloads and Spotify accounts, let’s not forget about the importance of album covers. For most albums, the art is the selling point. The layouts, the liner notes, etc., tell more of the story of a band and the project they are selling you. Pay attention!

DC Reviews: Intocable ~ XX ~ 20 Aniversario

I intocableremember it was 1995 at one of the big Tejano clubs in San Antonio. I took a night off from studying and made the trek from San Marcos to check out a young band that was gaining popularity. I had become an instant fan of Intocable when they released Fuego Eterno. Now, I got my chance to see them live and, man, did they tear the place up. It was like a rock show–lights, smoke, and yes, music.

Lead vocalist Ricky Muñoz gave the band his own voice and acordeón stylings and his band had their own sound. Norteño, yet with hard-driving drumming by Rene Martinez, tough bass lines, and a rock-tinged bajo sexto by Johnny Lee Rosas, it surely wasn’t your parents Ramon Ayala or norteño music. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a twenty year career has earned them millions of albums sold, sold out tours, seven Latin Grammys, and two Gringo Grammys, among other awards.

Twenty years later, the formula hasn’t changed, but they have pushed the envelope, whether through crossover anthems or through back-to-roots albums, or pop-flavored ballads. Twenty years later, they still sell-out huge venues in Mexico and the US–even taking their music to Colombia and Central America, and even The Greek in LA. And twenty years later, Intocable has given us the gift of a live album to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

Seldom do live albums take us from day 1 to today, but XX does. Starting with hits like Vete Ya, Parece Que No, and Coqueta, and on through Nos Falto Hablar and Culpable Fui, Intocable takes us through a career filled with memories and music–for the band and the listeners. Twenty live hits and an hour later it feels like one has gone through a powerful set.

The guys even add one de pilón; a cumbia titled Cajita de Carton.

Musically, the band is as tight as ever, even adding a second bajo sexto years ago to strengthen the sound. Listening to the old hits played by today’s Intocable standards is a treat that all will enjoy.

Anyway, it’s a must buy for the collection.

2015 will be a huge year for Intocable as they hit the road all over the country, but a few tour stops caught my eye:  2/13- Minneapolis; 2/27 – South Bend, IN; 2/28 – Detroit; March 1 – Queens, NY; March 21 – Bolivia. Hope the guys say hello to Evo Morales for me.

Intocable is:  Ricardo Muñoz, Rene Martinez, Sergio Serna, Johnny Lee Rosas, Juan Hernandez, and guest bajo, Alejandro Gulmar.

Track List:

1. Vete Ya
2. Parece Que No
3. Coqueta
4. Y Todo Para Que?
5. Llevame Contigo
6. Eres Mi Droga
7. Donde Estas?
8. Amor Maldito
9. Fuerte No Soy
10. Estas Que Te Pelas
11. Ensename A Olvidar
12. Suena
13. Eso Duele
14. Aire
15. Alguien Te Va A Hacer Llorar
16. Por Ella
17. Tu Adios No Mata
18. Robarte Un Beso
19. Nos Falto Hablar
20. Culpable Fui (Culpable Soy)
21. Cajita De Carton

Enter the Tejano Conjunto Festival Poster Contest

From Juan Tejeda:

Attention visual artists and graphic designers. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center wants you to submit a poster for the 34th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival Poster Contest 2015. The Overall Winner receives a $1,000 cash award and the winning selection becomes the official poster for the 34th Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio 2015 to be held from May 13-17. A Top Selection and Honorable Mention poster will also be selected in the middle school, high school, college level, and open categories. Deadline for submission is February 7, 2015. For the complete rules & guidelines, click here. FEBRUARY 7, 2015 DEADLINE! 

Thoughts on Viernes…01232015

A Little Observation

Looks like the imminently possible announcement of Adrian Garcia’s mayoral campaign has set off a little bit of everything as far as attitudes go on social media. At least from anecdotal evidence, it would seem many of my Latino pals are very much in favor of a mayoral candidacy. On the other hand, many of my non-Latino friends who work hard as Democratic activists have set their attitudes on “groan” because they don’t want to lose the progress that has been made with Garcia in office. Honestly, I can’t blame either group. Like him or not, this is huge, if it does happen.

Ricky Muñoz of Intocable Interviewed by Billboard Mag

Billboard Magazine featured an interview with Ricky Muñoz, founder of the supergroup Intocable, as they are set to release their 20th Anniversary Live album, XX. Based just south of Laredo in Zapata, TX, the band has enjoyed steady climb in the Mexican Regional genre. From their founding, they’ve been called just about anything:  Tejano, Mexican Regional, Grupero, Norteño. What they are is a band that borrows from styles they grew up listening to, including rock themes. They’ve sold out entire stadiums in Mexico, Colombia, and here in the USA. This blogger has been a fan since ’94 when I found their CD at Turntable Records in Austin.

The best response in the interview?

I am a third-generation Texan. My grandparents were born in Texas, my parents were born in Texas, my kids were born in Texas. I feel both [Mexican and American]. For example, during  the holidays, we eat tamales and Mexican food, but when it’s election time, I become a patriotic American and vote and listen.

Check out the rest of it.

Music Break ~ Intocable – Culpable Fui (XX) – Album Release 1/27/15