Category Archives: DC Promo

RIP: Florencia (Flora) Medellin

floFlorencia “Flora” Medellín was reunited with the love of her life, Anastacio “Tacho” Medellín, in heaven on January 13, 2016, surrounded by her children, grandson, and son-in-law at Methodist Hospital West in Houston, TX. She was born November 5, 1930 to Jesus Serna and María Teran Serna in her beloved home town, Crystal City, Texas.

She grew up in Crystal City, traveling as a migrant worker, with her family, to the cherry orchards of Wisconsin, the tomato fields of Indiana, and the agri-fields of Texas and North Dakota. In the summer of 1949, her family pulled up their Texas roots and relocated to Decatur, IN, in search of a better life. While living in Indiana, she worked as a chicken plucker in a poultry processing plant, steam-press operator in a dry cleaning shop, and even considered training as a nurse in neighboring Illinois. Alas, her mother’s tears stopped her from pursuing her dream of becoming a healthcare worker.

flopopIn the Spring of 1959, while she was visiting relatives in Crystal City, she reconnected with her childhood friend and neighbor, Tacho Medellín. It was a whirlwind romance, with them spending entire days at the Popeye Baseball Tournament, at a carnival (where he won so many stuffed animals for her she had to give many of them away), and driving around Crystal City—with his sisters, Mary and Concepcion, acting as chaperones. As promised, he traveled to Indiana to ask for her hand in marriage and make plans for the wedding. They were married October 17, 1959 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Decatur, Indiana.

They returned to Crystal City where they raised their children, were active in the community, and were co-owners of Medellin’s Texaco for over 30 years. Aside from running their business and raising their kids, Flora and Tacho were avid sports enthusiasts, often willing to travel throughout south Texas to support the Crystal City Javalinas at football and baseball games—a hobby they traced back to their courtship.

flopop2After her husband’s untimely death in 1990, she lived with her children, Sylvia and Tacho Jr. in Austin, then moved to Fort Worth with Toni, Ben and Benny. During the twenty one years she lived with the Briseños, helping to raise her grandson, she lived in Philadelphia, Tulsa, Kingwood (Houston), Denton, and Cypress, where she made lifelong friends along the way.

Once she had the opportunity to travel, she took full advantage, visiting family in Decatur and Fort Wayne, Indiana several times and took a road trip through the Smokey Mountains.

During her time in Pennsylvania, she enjoyed hiking through the snow at Valley Forge Park, visiting all of Philly’s wonderful museums (the Ben Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art were her favorites). Touring Pennsylvania Amish Country, visiting Hershey Park (where she ate all the chocolate bars she could get her hands on), and visiting Atlantic City, NJ were all items that she was able to scratch off her bucket list.

While residing in Oklahoma she enjoyed visiting several reservations, the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, attended PowWows, and picnicked at Lake Tenkiller. Taking a trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days and attending the Daddy of ’Em All Rodeo was one of her favorite western road trips.

On her many trips to New Mexico to visit her grandson at college, she visited Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and made a pilgrimage to El Santuario at Chimayo. In a life filled with highlights, watching Benny graduate from college, perform at the Greer Garson Theatre, and sing with the Santa Fe Opera were amongst her proudest moments.

When she could still travel, she also enjoyed visiting friends and family in Crystal City and San Antonio.

Flora was an active and committed Democrat, working through social media to “Flo the Vote.” She loved holding court at political events, attending Senate District and State conventions, and staying up late on election night to watch the returns. She and her family hosted political fundraisers for various candidates for public office (even some Republicans attended and donated just so they could have some of her famous tortillas). Casting her ballot by mail every election was a priority—even when she was being wheeled in to surgery or recovering from a serious illness. As she grew older and more frail, she would remind her kids to order her ballot by mail as soon as she could because she wanted to cast her ballot and have it counted in case she “didn’t make it” to Election Day. She was an active member of the Kingwood Area Democrats, Democratic Women of Denton County, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, ROADwomen, and South Denton County Democratic Club (SoDeCo).

In 2012, she embarked on a new adventure in Assisted Living where she made many new friends, took up new hobbies like oil painting, jewelry making, and pokeno, and enjoyed her new found independence. Her final residence was at Solera at West Houston where she loved the crafting, gaming, sing-a-longs and therapy pet visits.

Left to mourn her passing and celebrate her life are her children, Anastacio Medellín Jr., Sylvia Medellín, Maria Antonia “Toni” Medellin; son-in-law Benjamín A. Briseño (all of Houston); her grandson, Benjamín Alejos “Benny” Briseño, Benny’s “honey bunny” Taylor Servedio, and her great-grand-cat, Beatrice of Los Angeles, CA; adopted daughters, Veronica Gamez and Charlene Valda Tanner; adopted granddaughters, Ariadna “Ari Hayek” Orozco and Andrea Ramos; brothers Jesus Serna, Louis Cerna, and Hector Serna (Karen) of Decatur, IN; sisters Maria de Jesus Serna Espinola, Guadalupe Serna Garza, and Herminia Montalvo (Jose) of Fort Wayne; brothers-in-law Manuel Medellin Jr (Beatriz) and Manuel Cerna (Regina); her aunt Virginia Guerrero Teran of Crystal City; her best friend Elena “Nena” Puente of Crystal City; her comadre Maria Ana “Nena” Vera Guzman of Corpus Christi; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and fellow DWDC alum Judith Banks Ford and Jan Marie Goode. She also leaves behind friends from coast to coast, numerous Bingo Buddies, and Crafting Comadres at Solera and at Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Jesus and Maria Serna; her beloved husband, Anastacio Reyes Medellin; adopted son, Mike Kelley; sisters Aurora “Lolly” Serna and María “Maruka” Serna Ortiz; brothers Rodolfo Garcia, Elias Casiano, Eriberto “Beto/Bob” Serna, and Jose Z. Serna; beloved sisters-in-law Consuelo “Connie” Serna, Tomasa “Tommy” Mendez Serna, Olivia Coronado Serna, Mary Medellin Juarez, and Concepcion Medellin Garcia; brothers-in-law Olegario Medellin and Joaquin Medellin; pets Poochie, Lobo, Precious, Chico, Sugar, Chato, Steven, Guero, Gertie, and Jackie.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that memorial donations be made to the following, or to your favorite progressive organization, in her honor:

Because Flora never could stand to see anyone hungry: The Houston Food Bank 535 Portwall Street Houston, Texas 77029 713-223-3700 HoustonFoodBank.org

Because Flora believed that everyone deserved to live the American Dream: FIEL Houston 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 fielhouston.org

Because Flora was convinced that they key to success for women was the ability to understand and control their reproductive system: Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. Promotoras Program (community health workers) 4600 Gulf Freeway Houston, TX 77023 713.522.6363 ppgulfcoast.org

Because Flora wanted to see a Democratic President supported by a Democratic Congress: James Cargas for Congress Cargas for Congress 2450 Louisiana #400-777 Houston, TX 77065 713 581 0072 jamescargas.com

VIDEO: Amanda Edwards for AL4

For your consideration…

DC Reviews ~ Los Texmaniacs – Americano Groove

grooveGrammy Award winners, Los Texmaniacs, are back with a new studio album–Americano Groove. The new album is bold, offering a variety of music:  Tex-Mex, cumbia, country, funky Latin rhythms, and other familiar stylings in music.  Throw in a star-studded group of guests like Alejandro Escovedo, Kevin Fowler, Joe Ely, Rick Treviño, and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and you have the makings of a collector’s item. It truly is an Americano Groove.

Down in the Barrio kicks off the album; a tune filled with social commentary about barrio realities and solutions. Escovedo joins in on this one while the band provides a solid rhythm. Ya No Te Quiero Ver is a sped-up polka
“tell-off” tune that allows Josh Baca to flex his acordeón abilities and Max Baca isn’t too far behind with a bajo sexto solo. How Can a Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly has that Tornado-esque feel created by Augie Meyers’ organ while telling us the story of a heartbreaking woman. How Long Is Patient is a Baca-delivered ballad, with help from Tania Marie, centered around the strumming of a bajo sexto and an electric guitar–a pretty awesome combo.

Country star Kevin Fowler joins the production on Adios Mamacita–a fun Tex-Mex rockabilly tune about a crazy, yet fun, woman. Known for their power polkas, Max and his nephew Josh Baca on acordeon take us back to when polkitas were played with a bajo sexto and acordeon around a camp fire with Muchachos Alegres. Then, the legendary Joe Ely joins in on I Wanna Known Your Name, in another Tex-Mex rocker of a song.

Herido, a haunting ballad about love ending, is aptly delivered by drummer/guitarronista Lorenzo Martinez. Como Te Quiero is a ranchera that has gained popularity at live gigs and was showcased at the 40th Anniversary concert of A Prairie Home Companion. With the traditional conjunto sound with slide guitar thrown in, this tune will definitely be a favorite.

Rick Treviño proves he’s still got it with the country tune Big Night in a Small Town. Los Texmaniacs add in what can be called a cumbita raza, Mentirosa, with its barrio slang, and Lobos-esque style and harmonies; not to mention a searing guitar solo by David Hidalgo. And the album ends strong with Polka Palitos, again, done in the traditional bajo/acordeon style of the old days with a strong full conjunto ending.

The album was produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, a legend himself. There’s an obvious tell of his involvement with how easily various non-conjunto instruments are mixed in. More than the obvious risk-taking in doing a different kind of Tex-Mex album is the feeling of how fun it may have been to record this project. To have been a fly in the wall of that studio.

Anyway, look for the album online. Since I really wanted the liner notes to this one, I found it at Wal-Mart this morning. Get your copy today!

5/1/15 – Tonite! Tomas Q. Morin and Paul Otremba at Brazos Bookstore

FB Event

Come hear Tomas Q. Morin read from his recently published translation of Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu and Paul Otremba read from his recently released book, Pax Americana.

Today, 5-1-15 at 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 77005

Well, I’m excited about seeing my friend, Tomas. We’re both SWT (Texas State) grads and haven’t seen each other in 17 years. I knew him when he was a student serving as a tutor for Bobcat athletes and I was their academic advisor. Here’s his professional bio:

Tomás Q. Morín’s poetry collection A Larger Country was the winner of the APR/Honickman Prize and runner-up for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award.  He is co-editor with Mari L’Esperance of the anthology, Coming Close: 40 Essays on Philip Levine, and translator of The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda. His poems have appeared in Slate, Threepenny Review, Boulevard, Poetry, New England Review, and Narrative.

Paul Otremba’s Bio:

Paul Otremba is the author of two poetry collections, The Currency (Four Way Books 2009) and Pax Americana (Four Way Books 2015). Born and raised in Minnesota, Paul studied English and Philosophy at the University of Minnesota before receiving his MFA from the University of Maryland and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston.

Paul has published widely in journals, including The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Literary Imagination, Forklift, Witness, and multiple appearances on Poetry Daily. In honor of his poetry, he has received scholarships and a fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a Barthelme Memorial Fellowship, a Krakow Poetry Seminar Fellowship, and a prize from the Academy of American Poets.

His essays, poetry reviews, and food writing have appeared in Tikkun, The Houston Chronicle, Spoon Magazine, and in the anthology American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics. Paul is an Assistant Professor of English at Rice University.

So, come check out these fine poets.

CityVoter Best Charity Contest – Vote Neighborhood Centers

Houston.CityVoter.com has an online contest where visitors to the site pick “Houston’s A-List,” including the category of Best Local Charity.

There are a lot of good ones listed, but one of the most impactful organizations is Neighborhood Centers. So, join me, and vote for Neighborhood Centers!

Note:  You’ll have to sign up to the site, but it’s easy! Voting ends May 31st.

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!

2/7: Congressman Luis Gutierrez Speaking in Houston

Definitely save the date for this important event regarding the President’s Immigration Executive Action:

Immigration Rally on Executive Action

Saturday, February 7, 2015

2:00 p.m. (doors open at 1:15 p.m.)

Lindale Assembly of God

503 Reid

Houston, Texas 77022

What to expect: 

Information about Executive Action

Guests:  Bishop JR Rodriguez, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero

For more information:  www.nalec.org

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! 

Chris Bell to Announce for Mayor on Sunday

Chris Bell, former Congressman and Houston City Council Member, is set to announce his candidacy for Houston Mayor on Sunday afternoon. This will be Bell’s second run for the post (last run was 15 years ago) and he’ll become the second progressive-leaning candidate to announce a run in what will likely be a crowded field.

This is a serious election. Folks should get to know their candidates, so, here’s an opportunity to learn about one of them.