DC Reviews: Los Texmaniacs ~ Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds

First of all, I want to see Los Texmaniacs do the intro and exit music for SA Mayor Julian Castro at the Democratic National Convention.

Secondly, Los Texmaniacs happen to be my favorite conjunto band. Led by the dexterous Bajo Sexto playing of Grammy Winner Max Baca and the acordeon of the legendary David Farias, they provide fans world-wide a variety of music. They can go from conjunto to country and back for some more. Drummer Lorenzo Martinez and Bassist Oscar Garcia provide the group some extra sabor with their intense playing. Martinez does double-duty playing the Guitarron on some of the tunes.

Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds was produced by the good people at Smithsonian Folkways, and serves as Los Texmaniacs’ second compilation of classic hits on that label. And this time around, they push the envelope by adding some really neat classics to this 18-track recording.

The tried and true Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio launches this production, followed by the Lydia Mendoza classic Amor Bonito. But the Maniacs waste no time getting to the special tunes, givinng us a bajo-acordeon instrumental of the Marty Robbins classic, El Paso, combined with San Antonio Rose with Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel providing the vocals.

Much like 2010’s Grammy winning Borders y Bailes, Los Texmaniacs give us timeless instrumentals, such as Santiago Jimenez, Sr.’s Viva Seguin, the Mexican classic Antotonilco, and the vals, Salvador. But another instrumental gift is that of a Texas medley, featuring The Eyes of Texas and Deep in the Heart of Texas. With Farias on the acordeon, Bobby Flores on the fiddle, and Baca’s riffs on the Bajo, these are the tunes I’d like to see at the DNC (hint-hint).

Other canciones-polkas that are timeless include El Buque de Mas Potencia, and Por Una Mujer Casada. Baca penned the newer polkita, Ana Mia, which even has a video. The Texmaniacs also expertly provide us some smooth boleros, including Si Quieres Verme Llorar, Los Barandales del Puente, and Mil Besos (vocals byLorenzo Martinez). But the tune that really hits this heart is the corrido, El Contrabando de El Paso. Baca is also joined on vocals by Jason Roberts of Asleep at the Wheel for an amazing rendition of Waltz Across Texas.

Many record companies have attempted to reignite the conjunto genre by selling the old stuff, and preserving our culture and music should be priority one. But Los Texmaniacs have taken it a step further by giving us these tunes in a soulful manner without the tunes losing their integrity. What makes this production a special one is being secure in the knowledge that Baca and the gang can reproduce this stuff live and to perfection. Check out a show one of these days!

Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds is readily available on the Smithsonian Folksways site for purchase and download. You never get this great a deal for 18 tracks.

Here’s a little something from their recent live CD:

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