Night 2 of Festival Chicano One For The History Books

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Miller Outdoor Theater and the hill were filled to capacity for Night 2 of Festival Chicano. The crowd was energized for what was going to be a night filled with Chicano sounds and the bands did not disappoint.

Kicking off the night were Los Monarcas, a local conjunto that has been around for 45 years. Personally, it was when a record-store-owning buddy of mine (Turntable Records-Austin) asked me almost 30 years ago if I had ever heard of them. It was that first cassette that got me hooked with the sounds of acordeon, bajo, bass, and drums. Los Monarcas’ one-hour set was one huge medley of rancheras and polkas led by brothers Pete and Mario Diaz and complemented by a fat bass line and hard-hitting drumming. Hit after hit, they never stopped–even when one brother took on the acordeon duties to give us a rousing rendition of Ring of Fire. They fired up the crowd for sure.

This was also the first night that San Antonio’s La 45 would visit Houston, and boy, were they overdue. The outfit, which features a 5-piece horn section and 10 musicians led by Mike Torres, III and lead trumpeter John Ontiveros were introduced to the crowd by Henry “Pepsi” Peña, who offered a history lesson on Tejano music. Peña is a legendary SA radio personality who still promotes Chicano Soul concerts in the Alamo City. La 45 would offer up tune after tune, including Amor de Madrugada, some Latin Breed classics, R&B oldies giving them a flavor all their own. Showcasing the musicians, LA 45 gave opportunities to every member to give a taste of their chops with solos, with John Ontiveros earning the spotlight a few times. Joining them on accordion and keys was Herbie Lopez, an accomplished musician from the days of Conjunto Bernal. The crowd embraced La 45 after they gave so much of themselves.

After the presentation of the proclamation honoring 40 years of Festival Chicano by Houston Councilman Robert Gallegos, it was time for the headliner–Little Joe y La Familia.

No doubt, La Familia is one of the most precision-based bands in the business, and credit goes to Little Joe who demands it. Launching the show with an instrumental version of Las Nubes, the band switched gears to LJ classic, Prieta Linda, as Little Joe walked out on the stage wearing a zarape and mariachi pants. At almost 79, Little Joe showed no signs of slowing down–physically or vocally–taking us through memory lane with Por Una Mujer Casada, Ni El Dinero Ni Nadie, Recuerdas Querido Amigo and more. He would give his lead trumpet player, Carlos Salazar, the opportunity to belt out Jurame–one of my fave ballads. Later, Melinda Hernandez of Sister Sister came out for an impromptu tune, Baby Baby. After the show closers, Las Nubes and Borrachera, Little Joe came back for an encore with Por Un Amor. Needless to say, the crowd was satisfied and a bit overdosed with the best music.

Little Joe didn’t just perform, he also politicked a bit. Reminding us of the terror coming out of the White House. When he walked  out and saw the capacity crowd, he sarcastically stated, “You all are beautiful. Beautiful rapists, murderers, drug dealers…” to which we all laughed, but also felt reminded about how culture and politics really do mix. He gave mention to the violence in El Paso, Odessa (the postwoman who was killed was daughter of one of his compadres), and everything else that is going on. He urged folks to register and vote, and to vote locally and not just in federal elections as that is where most decisions that affect us are made. Finally, he also did a tribute to his dad, performing a song his dad wrote about himself, La Cotorra, about his days of selling weed and doing a little time in the pen. LJ’s response song was a tune he wrote about his dad, Always My Hero. A very poignant moment to remind us we aren’t perfect, sometimes we make bad decisions, but we are about family and we push forward.

Saturday is the final night, featuring Elida y Avante, Los Garcia Brothers, and Tejano Highway 281. I won’t be there, so, if someone wants to write something up, I’ll post it here.

Que viva FESTIVAL CHICANO!

y que viva DANIEL BUSTAMANTE!

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A Great Opening Night at Festival Chicano

It certainly felt good sitting amongst the masses at Miller Outdoor Theater, although, the rain may have scared off a few folks. The event goes on rain or shine, folks! Still, sitting with a few thousand of my closest friends, listening to some amazing musicians, and not worrying about the crap the world is giving us was just what this Chicano needed.

Grupo Fuerte kicked off the night with a set filled with rancheras and cumbias. Carlos Maldonado’s bajo sexto playing was impressive and the band was on point as they went through various covers, including tunes made popular by Roberto Pulido, Jesse Serrata and others. A poignant moment occurred when the band dedicated a medley of songs to the late Joe Ernest Puente, a local vocalist and bandleader who passed away this year. Another was when Maldonado brought out his locally legendary dad, Carlos, Sr. to play a few old school conjunto tunes

Los Desperadoz took the stage with their newest member and vocalist, Eric Lee Villarreal, belting out newest single, Anhelo. Afterwards, it was a string of hits by the band with brothers Mike and Lee on acordeon and bajo at the lead. El Amor Que Soñe, Que Mas Quieres De Mi, Dame Tu Amor, Mi Tesoro, the list goes on. Throw in a couple of cumbias, an energetic huapango, and some classy polka instrumentals and one easily remembers why they are such big fans of the group. It was about damn time they made it to Houston! Great show!

The band everyone was waiting for was Jaime De Anda (JDA). Many have caught some of their shows on grainy youtube vids, but it’s been awhile since this new act has been caught at a venue like MOT. De Anda is still an amazing acordeonista, but his new musicians (especially that bajo player) more than complement his style. They didn’t rewrite the formula, but it seems to be delivered with a lot more heft and power. JDA took us through memory lane with hits like El Complejo, Yolanda, El Preso, and others, and De Anda hit every note just right. It would have been impressive whether Jaime’s dance moves were part of the show or not.

So, that’s night #1. Kudos to Daniel Bustamante and his hard-working crew. Friday night, it’s Little Joe y La Familia, La .45, and Los Monarcas. DC will be there!

40th Annual Festival Chicano Set To Launch on Thursday

Thursday night is the first night of the 40th Festival Chicano at Miller Outdoor Theater. Beginning at 7PM, thousands of folks seated and on the hill will enjoy the music of Grupo Fuerte, Los Desperadoz, and Jaime De Anda (JDA).

Festival Chicano is a weekend filled with music, culture, and community enjoyed by thousands every fall. Earlier this week, Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council approved a resolution honoring the festival.

It’s safe to say that creating Festival Chicano wasn’t an easy feat, according to festival founder and director Daniel Bustamante. In an interview with Tony Diaz at KPFTs Nuestra Palabra show, Bustamante tells us that he had to fight his way into Miller Outdoor Theater.

Festival Chicano first started with a concert held at Moody Park in the northside of Houston on Easter, 1977. After attracting over 10,000 spectators, the City of Houston was a bit upset because of crowd issues. The fact that there were limited facilities, parking and other issues didn’t sit well with the City. Bustamante offered the idea to use Miller Outdoor Theater.

The City and the MOT folks weren’t too keen on the idea. Maybe it was the thought of 10,000 Chicanos converging on a major facility, but the excuse to first deny the Festival was that the facility was for “fine arts.” Of course, it wasn’t like Bustamante lacked an infrastructure. With the support of Little Joe y La Familia and with the intent to empower a community through culture, there was little doubt that the event would be a success.

It took a few more years to finally get to the MOT. After the HPD murder of Joe Campos Torres and the pushback at Moody Park, the City may have become more receptive. With Little Joe’s support, the first official show at Miller was held on April 1980. 40 years later, the festival continues with capacity crowds and the very best music in Texas. Little Joe has played every year, except for one, and will get to celebrate his 79th birthday on Friday.

Friday features Little Joe, La .45, and Los Monarcas. The festival closes on Saturday with Elida Reyna y Avante, Los Garcia Brothers, and Tejano Highway 281.

THE MUSIC

Los Garcia Brothers, Los Monarcas, and Grupo Fuerte are considered hard-core conjunto bands, led by the acordeon and the bajo sexto. Fuerte and Monarcas are local favorites, while Los Garcia Brothers, dressed in zoot suits, travel from Eagle Pass.

Los Desperadoz are also a conjunto but with a more progressive slant to their music. They recently released a new album, so, I expect they will put on a good show. And speaking of good shows, Jaime De Anda, a showman and killer acordeonista in his own right, will showcase his new band, JDA. De Anda recently went solo after separating from the group he founded in Houston, Los Chamacos.

Of course, Little Joe (y La Familia) is a living legend who continues a heavy touring schedule showcasing an amazing horn and rhythm section. La .45 is led by a couple of former members of La Familia and also offer up a 5 piece horn section that plays original and old school favorites. Elida Reyna y Avante are also touring behind a new album. The powerful-voiced Reyna is sure to wow the crowd with her cumbias and rancheras, and a big sing-along is expected for Luna Llena. Finally, Tejano Highway 281 is an up-and-coming band from the Rio Grande Valley with a style that brings together conjunto, Tejano, and country. Expect to be impressed.

I expect to be there for at least two of the nights. I’ve got a DJ gig on Saturday, but I’ll probably play some of the music from the bands I’m missing. Check out Festival Chicano, wear your favorite candidate/political t-shirt, and take in nuestra cultura.

¡QUE VIVA DANIEL BUSTAMANTE!

¡Y QUE VIVA EL FESTIVAL CHICANO!

Executive “Interns” Aren’t Coffee Go-Fers

I swear, right-wingers and second-rate reporters run on stupid to gain votes and ratings.

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s opponents, which apparently includes local media, are trying to make something out of nothing when it comes to the “$95K intern” that a local station discovered in plain sight (it’s public record). The Mayor’s opponents play on ignorance–all of the time.

It’s obvious the local station is creating something out of nothing since they seem to concentrate on the attempted “gotcha!” BS of reporter Mario Diaz who pushed a mic in the Mayor’s face while he was walking out of a police cadet swearing-in ceremony in attempt to surprise the Mayor. It was pretty disrespectful. Even the best reporters wait for a press conference or gaggle when they question the President on his law-breaking and impeachable offenses. In this case, it was theater–and it wasn’t even good theater. And the Mayor’s political opponents are the worst actors.

As far as the intern is concerned, I have no problem with city government having an executive training program, which is what this should have been called by the local news, and what it is. “Intern” sounds to most like a coffee go-fer at KPRC. And perhaps that’s what comes to mind to most voters when someone says “intern.” Maybe folks should think better of interns.

This guy is not your run-of-the-mill office go-fer. The position was created to start a management training program. It’s no different than corporations with similar programs, like Enterprise. Or, even our own state universities who seek out talent within the academic ranks to give them experience in the administration side of things–I think they call them “assistant to the president,” or something to that effect. Why shouldn’t governments do the same as corporations? Don’t we want better government?

The “intern” in question has three degrees–two of them from my alma mater (Texas State). It’s not like he’s not qualified for the job or even the salary; although, some lawyer who KPRC brought around says he’s “too qualified” to be a coffee go-fer. Yeah, he is. And he isn’t a coffee go-fer. He’s training to become a government executive. One needs experience to run things, no?

This story does point out a need for our city governments:  A management training program in all executive departments so we can keep and grow talent in city management and not lose them to the private sector so quickly. Oh, and maybe interns should be paid, whether they bring coffee or help run things.

As far as playing “Gotcha!”, it would seem local reporters need to step up their game. At the very least, improve the theatrics.

 

The 2019 #StaceSlate

¡Feliz Fiestas Patrias y Viva La Raza!

The 2019 City of Houston elections are upon us and some of you may be thinking about whose name to click when you show up to your polling location in November. Well, I’ve made my choices and urge you to vote for these individuals. I’ll write out explanations about why soon, but I think I’ve proven I can be trusted with my electoral choices.

Note:  The first list are those who will appear on my own ballot. The others are candidates I wish I could vote for, but I do not reside in their districts. I’ll pick among the state constitutional measures and Alief ISD trustee candidates soon.

MAYOR – SYLVESTER TURNER

CITY CONTROLLER – CHRIS BROWN

AT-LARGE 1 – RAJ SALHOTRA

AT-LARGE 2 -DAVID ROBINSON

AT-LARGE 3 – JANAEYA CARMOUCHE

AT-LARGE 4 – NICK HELLYAR

AT-LARGE 5 – ASHTON P. WOODS

DISTRICT F – TIFFANY THOMAS

METRONEXT BOND – YES/FOR/SI (whatever the positive answer is)

OTHERS

DISTRICT B – TARSHA JACKSON

DISTRICT H – ISABEL LONGORIA

DISTRICT I – ROBERT GALLEGOS

DISTRICT J – SANDRA RODRIGUEZ

HCC DISTRICT I – MONICA FLORES RICHART

HISD DISTRICT III – SERGIO LIRA

TEXAS HOUSE DISTRICT 148 (Special):  PENNY MORALES SHAW

and for good measure

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – JULIAN CASTRO (ongoing)

 

* No contributions were offered or accepted for these endorsements. No memberships were required to be purchased.

 

40th Annual Festival Chicano, OCT 3-4-5, 2019

Daniel Bustamante and the crew at Festival Chicano have released the line-up and dates for the 3-day music festival to be held at Miller Outdoor Theater. October 3-4-5, 2019 will be a special weekend as this will be the 40th annual festival featuring some of the top bands en la Onda Chicana. I’ll have more on the line-up in the near future. For now, check out the line-up below:

TODAY, 8/21/19: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia Hosts Immigration Forum

From the Inbox:

HOUSTON — Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia will host an Immigration Forum TODAY, August 21st, 2019, where she will discuss immigration related legislative updates and provide information on how her office can be of service to the community as it pertains to immigration.

Several community organizations will also be in attendance. They will provide additional information about the state of immigration policy in the U.S. and talk about how their organizations can also help families who need help with immigration related matters.

MEDIA IS WELCOME TO ATTEND.

 WHEN:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 at 6:30 PM CT

WHERE:

Magnolia Multi-Service Center, 7037 Capitol St., Houston, TX 77011, USA

WHO:

Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia, 29th Congressional District of Texas

Elizabeth Bille, Texas State Director, NALEO Educational Fund

Jill Campbell, Managing Immigration Attorney, BakerRipley

Cesar Espinosa, Executive Director, FIEL

Andrea Guttin, Legal Director, Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative

Rafael Pantoja, Senior Police Officer, HPD; Host of HPD Comunidad y Confianza Radio Show

Benito Juarez, Manager of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities with City of Houston

###

Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent Texas 29th Congressional district.

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez Enters Senate Race

Have you ever had a bunch of candidates to choose from and still can’t make a decision? Yeah, me too.

But Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez has entered the race for the Senate to rid us of  John Cornyn, so, perhaps the choice is easier today.

Ramirez is an activist and organizer who founded the Workers Defense Project and voter engagement group, Jolt Texas. Many of us have watched her interviews on MSNBC speaking on behalf of the pro-migrant cause during these painful days of mourning since the El Paso shooting and since Trump’s attacks on the Latino community. Obviously, she’s running as a progressive on all the issues Democrats love.

I’m running because I want to ensure that every Texan has high-quality healthcare, to build an economy that creates millions of good jobs and positions our state as the leader in our global transition towards a green future, to protect the rights of immigrant families and communities of color, and to ensure that every single Texan that wants to go to college can afford it and graduate debt free.

Given her positions on these issues, I do not expect her to change her views mid-General to appease the unreachable and unattainable, which happens in most Texas campaigns. So, I expect her to run a strong, grassroots campaign funded by working people who seek real change in Washington, DC.

I’m running because I have the most beautiful two year old son in the world, Santiago, and when I imagine the world he’s going to inherit, and the one I leave behind for him, I want him to be proud of what I stood up for. What we stood up for together. I want him to know that in a moment where 1 in 6 Texans didn’t have access to healthcare and millions were struggling just to make ends meet, when communities were being pitted against one another on the basis of race, and our world was at the brink of an imminent climate catastrophe, we came together and worked as hard as we could to make his life and other children’s lives like him better.

What’s the path to victory? Given her message, it’s through all communities. And that will take visibility across Texas. From the Trib:

Tzintzún Ramirez welcomed a competitive nominating contest as healthy for Democrats, saying the candidates in the Senate race are “all essentially at the same starting place,” unknown to most voters statewide and thus forced to run on the merits of their platforms. Asked how she plans to distinguish herself, she pointed to her forthrightness on the issues and her record of mobilizing the kind of voters often overlooked by politicians.

“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.

This kind of video helps.

The Trib has more.

 

 

The Day 2 Dems: We Need To Thin The Top Tier By 1

If anything has become obvious after two days of Democratic debate, it’s that most of the white dudes want to keep criminalization of border crossings and the candidates of color and women want to do away with it. And the pro-criminalization side has its king in Joe Biden.

Biden’s “back of the line,” “all border crossers are criminals” tirade set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He’s basically the Democrats’ Trump, saying what probably 1/3 of the Democratic Party think or is OK with a candidate saying because they just want to get rid of Trump and think anti-immigrant BS is the key to victory. Pro-Tip:  It’s not!

I can’t say I hate myself or a group of people enough to vote for this kind of Democrat.  Maybe that would change at the voting machine in November 2020, but I’ve been worn thin and will speak freely today. And Democrats refuse to learn from our past, even getting upset when some of us criticize previous Dem administrations. Nothing should be off-limits when we are picking the next leader of this country because we should strive for the best.

Performance-wise, I think Julian Castro did quite well, considering CNN only gave him less than 11 minutes to speak, while Back of the Line Biden got twice as much–most of it debating Kamala Harris.  But Julian proved that we Chicanos can do a lot with a little. Whether it was taking on Biden’s fear-based and gutless immigration pronouncements with a truly comprehensive plan or detailing his thoughts on a health care for all compromise, Julian was focused and coherent.

And while some will whine about Joe Biden being the target of some of the others, I think that’s a good thing. It showed us what he’d sound like in a debate with Trump, and if it didn’t scare you, then you are up in the clouds thinking he can beat Trump.

Cory Booker faired well against Biden after Biden’s attack on the town in which he was Mayor. (Why are white dudes attacking black cities and their leaders lately?) There are a few reasons Booker isn’t my favorite, but he’s quite the debater. Kamala Harris did well, too, on health care, despite attacks from the right in which scary numbers and confusion were thrown around by the mods.  Gabbard, of course, pointed out Harris’ flaws as attorney general of California, but it didn’t earn her points as much as it may have smudged Harris. Gillibrand has made a turnaround on immigration and sounded much more coherent on the issue and other issues than usual. Even DiBlasio and Yang weren’t awful.

Democrats have a decision:  Pick the right person that can take on Trump or settle for mediocrity.

I get lectured by former republicans and Dems who give money and support to “tolerable” republicans that we need to beat Trump with any sack of potatoes with a (D) by their name, but it’s early enough that we can thin the herd of basically bad people in our Party. For all the flaws that are pointed out, I think Castro, Warren, Sanders, and Harris are great candidates. Booker is OK, too.  But this round of debates proved that the mod(erate) squad, led by Biden, do nothing to increase participation of those constantly left behind in the conversation with their “no se puede” attitudes. If they don’t fire up an avid voter such as myself, then they won’t fire up the others we need. So, it’s not a bad thing, 6 months ahead of the first primary/caucus, to have some real conversations about the candidates–even picking them apart to see what they’re made of.

Happy candidate hunting! Go Julian!

 

 

TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks that maybe some Republicans ought to try reading the Mueller report as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the July campaign finance reports from Congressional candidates.

SocraticGadfly invites you to be Simon and Garfunkel and picture the sounds of silence that a truly Green, Green New Deal on climate change would bring.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Better Texas Blog decries the proposals to gut SNAP.

Stephen Young notices how one-note the Republican response to Democratic Senate candidates is.

Mean Green Cougar Red mourns the demolition of the First Pasadena Bank.

Paradise in Hell interprets Donald Trump’s interpretation of the Constitution.

The Observer reminds us that a lot of people die on the job in Texas.

John Coby says good-bye to his Congressman, Pete Olson.