I was surprised to hear about Los Texmaniacs appearing at a pub/dive bar at Rice Village. Usually, Tex-Mex bands perform at one of several Tejano clubs on the North or Southeast side. Let me tell you, Under The Volcano was a really nice venue for an intimate, yet powerful performance by the Grammy-winning conjunto quartet.
Led by Bajo Sexto virtuoso Max Baca, Los Texmaniacs blazed through various tunes from their last few albums. Taking off with Como Te Quiero, adding in some polkitas and cumbias, and some Tex-Mex rock, they kept the music going strong throughout their two-hour set.
Notable tunes from their latest release, Americano Groove, included How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly, Down in the Barrio, and I Wanna Know Your Name. A powerful rendition of the cumbia-rocker Mentirosa was also included.
A poignant musical moment came when they took on a personal favorite, Cancion Mixteca. Baca and bassist Noel Hernandez delivered a challenging tune perfectly, with Hernandez hitting those high-notes in the chorus just right.
Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio brought out a few couples to the tiny dance floor, giving the night that old-school cantina feel–in a good way. Marina, Marina and more polkas kept folks dancing and toe-tapping.
Not enough can be said about Baca’s “little nephew” Josh. The 24 year-old acordeonista was pretty much flawless throughout the night. Although all the musicians, including drummer Lorenzo Martinez, got their shot at some solos, Josh’s playing on instrumental Danzon Juarez exhibited some amazing chops. Martinez also showed his vocal abilities with the beautiful bolero Herido.
I can’t say enough about these guys. Their music and their abilities speak volumes during a time in which musicians aren’t all that appreciated. Although Los Texmaniacs have played before huge crowds around the world, this night before a hundred or so fans seemed pretty perfect to me.
A quick conversation with Josh Baca after the show told me about their newest project on Smithsonian Folkways Records which will feature Lyle Lovett singing Deportee and Rick Treviño. The new album will feature tunes about immigrant and labor experiences, including one of my favorites, Mexico-Americano, which the band offered up on Thursday. This album is sure to mean a lot to a lot of people.
The ‘Maniacs are at Luckenbach on Sunday with Los Lobos for what is sure to be a sold out show. Los Lobos are at the Dosey Doe in The Woodlands on Saturday for a “disconnected” show. Que suave, ¿verdad?