The Heights Theater was booming on Friday night with the sounds of the Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs, along with Rick Treviño and Ringo Garza (Los Lonely Boys). Fans were taken on a trip through Chicano history and culture during the two-hour concert.
Los Texmaniacs started their set with a huapango, then immediately went into their signature rancheras, Ganas Quisiera Tener and Soy de San Luis. As they always do, they gave a quick history lesson about the origins of Tex-Mex conjunto music, then they belted out a favorite, Cancion Mixteca. With fat bass lines from Noel Hernandez, hard-driving drumming from Daniel Martinez, the sweet bellowing squeezbox of Josh Baca, and Max Baca’s dexterous bajo sexto, the joint was jumping.
Rick Treviño joined them, along with his own keyboardist Milton Walters, to belt out some of his own hits, including Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone and Better in Texas. A fan favorite was Rick and Los Texmaniacs’ Grammy-nominated I Am A Mexican. The Treviño-penned tune is about an immigrant’s struggle between being an asset to, and a target of, his adopted country. Treviño, and Walters as accompanist, then added his first song as an independent musician, Cowboys Like Me, as well as one of his first hits, Learning As You Go. He ended his solo set with She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry with him on the piano.
Los Texmaniacs came back out with Treviño to give us a treat, Wasted Days and Wasted Nights, a tribute to Freddy Fender. Max Baca then recognized Treviño as the next big Chicano country singer after Johnny Rodriguez and Freddy. Then, the crowd was treated to a rousing rendition of Volver, Volver, which turned into a sing-a-long.
But the treats weren’t over. Los Texmaniacs brought out Los Lonely Boys drummer, Ringo Garza, to play a few tunes, including a ranchera. I’d only heard Ringo play Texican Rock, but him on a ranchera really was a treat. They brought out Ringo’s son, Ringo, Jr., who at age 13 is already an accomplished guitarist, to give the crowd some blues and rock guitaristics. Whatever “IT” is, that kid’s got it.
Los Texmaniacs ended their set with the anthemic Mexico Americano, but were brought out for an encore, which included the funky, yet educational, closer Down in the Barrio.
The near-capacity crowd loved every minute of the concert and responded well to the band. For the band, it was obvious that they enjoyed giving of their art. Touring on the Grammy-nominated Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) and their indy-labeled Americano Groove, Los Texmaniacs have a lot of music on which to build their set lists. They picked the right tunes last night.