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!

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