Category Archives: DC Promo

The Latin Grammys Tejano Noms Are Out

The LG Tejano noms release day is always one in which I expect to see bands whose music I’ve never heard. This was not one of those days.

The nominees include a Mexico-based Tejano band, the niece of a legend (Emilio) who has taken control of her career to achieve success, a vocalist originally produced by Abraham Quintanilla who has grown up in the industry to become a powerful singer, a band of professional working musicians who work in various projects but come together for a new album, and the son of a Tejano music legend who is making his way to that status himself.

Some good music was nominated this year in the Tejano music category. I’m glad to see that two talented young women were nominated, too. Both of have taken the reins of their careers and have explored new directions to achieve their creations.

Here are some samples from the nominated albums.

El Plan – Despreciado.

Grupo Alamo – Camino Al Progreso

Isabel Marie – Una Ilusion

Destiny Navaira – Dime Como Se Siente

Bobby Pulido – Para Que Baile Mi Gente

NSF Grant to TXST Will Count Border Bodies

Since I’m an SWT alum, what happens at my alma mater interests me. Having a sibling who graduated with a degree from their Anthropology department adds to the interest. So, when I saw that the National Science Foundation gave a $1 Million to TXST Anthro and other departments it was good news to hear.

A large, but unknown number of migrants die every year trying to enter the United States along the U.S.-Mexico border. There is no accurate count because there are no central databases documenting migrant deaths. As a result, national authorities, policymakers, and public health officials don’t know how many migrants are dying or how policies can curb migrant mortality.

Texas State University recently received a $1 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help document and share this important data and fill the gap.

Dr. Alberto Giordano and Dr. Nick Herrmann are co-leading the project entitled Migrant Mortality Mapping Portal Project (M3P2). Giordano is a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies whose prior work on historical geographic information systems (GIS) includes studies on the Holocaust and other genocides. Herrmann is a professor in the Department of Anthropology whose prior work in forensic anthropology and geospatial studied eastern Mediterranean bioarcheology.

The three-year NSF project has two parts. First, the team will collect and organize big data on migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border from various sources—from law enforcement reports to newspaper articles. Then, the team will develop a publicly accessible website where the data can be downloaded and explored with tools that the team will develop for exploring the data. Students will have opportunities to participate as research assistants in both areas. A post-doctoral researcher and doctoral and graduate research assistants will help the team with collecting and standardizing the data and designing and maintaining the database and tool.

No doubt, SWT’s work in body ID and the growth of their body farm research put them on the map to earn this grant and recognition. I have no doubt that it will be good work and a great contribution to society.

When the database is complete, more lives lost at the border will be counted, more stories recovered, more families reunited and more humanity regained.

That said, it is sad that the Feds would need to fund such a program. The fact of the matter is that if a Democratic President, House, and Senate had prioritized immigration reform and reformed its border enforcement policies instead of bolstering them, perhaps we wouldn’t need to match dead bodies to broken families. According to law enforcement on the border, bodies are found almost every day.

Some of the deaths are also due to migrants taking more and more risks to evade detection by federal authorities, he says. People are crossing the tumultuous Rio Grande, walking through dangerous ranchlands in the record Texas heat and paying the ultimate price, the sheriff adds.

It’s something immigration rights advocates have warned about as the latest tragic trend: people being forced to take increasingly risky paths due to mix of border policies that have made it more difficult for migrants to seek refuge in the US.

So many migrants, including children, who have attempted to cross the US southern border have died in this region that the forensic pathologist serving the area says 2022 is on pace to become the deadliest year on record in recent memory.   

Whether it’s the Border Patrol, Secretary Mayorkas and President Biden, or Greg Abbott, nothing has been done to actually save people from imminent death as their policies force migrants to change paths to get to this side. Paths which are more dangerous, treacherous, and deadly. Paths that walls, armed enforcement, and federalized local cops make more dangerous, thus, causing death.

Yes, kudos to NSF for funding this important work. But it further exhibits how broken our government is when it comes to people escaping violence and poverty. At least people who are south of us.

43rd Festival Chicano – The Schedule is Out!

My heart skips a beat whenever the schedule for the Festival Chicano is released. Three days of the best Tejano music in a great venue with an amazing sound system. And it’s FREE! thanks to some great sponsors, the City of Houston, Miller Outdoor Theater, and efforts of local legend Mr. Daniel Bustamante and volunteers.

The King of the Brown Sound, Little Joe has played in everyone of the festivals, except one, during his storied 60 year career. He never disappoints and the crowd will definitely sing-along. Jay Perez is currently touring in support of his Freddie Records release, El Maestro. Elida y Avante is one of the top live acts en la onda on her Block Party Tour. Pasadena’s own La Fiebre is supporting its latest album Historico and puts on the equivalent of a Tejano rock show. David Farias of the famous Hermanos Farias brings his own band while also supporting his latest album, Volando Alto. Finally, The Most Wanted Man, Ram Herrera is touring with his new band of top flight musicians and a new album, Back on Track. This is a pretty hard-core line-up ready to give folks new and classic hits.

Here’s the release from the FB event page:

The “43nd Annual Festival Chicano” is a reflection of the artistic creativity that has developed in the Chicano cultural experience after centuries of influence from native peoples, Mexico, Europeans, and the U.S.A..

Chicano music has been historically shaped by many diverse styles such as Mexican rancheras, corridos, mariachi, orchestra, tejano, conjunto, big band, rhythm and blues, country, rock and roll, and many others.

The festival is a celebration of culture through the musical expression of countless generations of artists. It is truly a unique, original American sound.

Thursday, Oct. 6

Jay Perez
David Farias Band

Friday, Oct. 7

Elida Reyna y Avante
La Fiebre

Saturday, Oct. 8

Little Joe y La Familia
Ram Herrera

All performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre are FREE!

The Friday, October 7th Performance Will Also Be Livestreamed.

It’s also a ticketed event, so get yours here: http://www.milleroutdoortheatre.com/get-tickets

Photo Credit: DCMedia/Stace Medellin

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

It’s time for some new music for your playlists. These got on my radar recently and one is a lyric video of a tune previously on the TSP. Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Pepe Aguilar f/ Intocable – No Me Hablen De Amor – Previously on the TSP, this new collab which is on Pepe’s new album is a great tune, well-written, and powered by Grupo Intocable. Intocable has been on this collab kick recently and that they made it on to Pepe’s new album is a huge deal. Check it out.

Pio Treviño y Majic – Mucho Miedo – Freddie Records has released the newest single by the legendary Pio Treviño as a lyric video. A conjunto tune penned by another legend, Freddie Martinez, the tune features Mariano Herrera and Mike Flores on acordeon and bajo. Pio’s first album on Freddie had several tunes that got on my radar last year. Enjoy this one. A little tristeza, though, the lyric vid features a group photo that includes the late Pepper Gonzalez, the Majic guitarist who passed away during the pandemic. #QEPD

Zereno f/ Little Joe – Con El Agua Hasta El Cuello – One of my fave bands from the 80s is an RGV group by the name of Zereno. Featuring Carlos Aleman on vocals, me and a buddy thought he was one of the best voices of the time. Well, the band is still around and keeping busy as they have released this collab with the King of the Brown Sound, Little Joe. LJ y La Familia made this song famous on his La Voz de Aztlan album in 1977. It’s been retouched up as a ranchera and sounds great.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Have you run out of new music to add to your playlist? Here are my recent favorites.

Selena – Como Te Quiero Yo A Ti – The long anticipated release of the newest tune from the Queen of Tejano dropped and it did not disappoint. Being a Selena fan since she was 12, I do remember this song and I even had the cassette. It was more of simple ballad that seemed like a filler back then, but her brother AB has made this into a full-fledged hit with a mariachi backing the vocals. He has also digitally “aged” the voice to make her sound in her 20s and not in her original teens, but one can’t even notice it. She always had a huge voice. No surprise that it is trending on YouTube. I look forward to the full album. It’ll be on CD, too!

La 45 f/ David Lee Garza and Cezar Martinez – La Embarcacion -My friends from La 45 have been busy working on various projects and this one is a big collab with David Lee Garza and Musicales vocalist Cezar Martinez. This is a classic tune from the days of Miguel Aceves Mejia and has been recorded by numerous artists in as many genres. La 45 gives the tune its big band sound with an acordeon interlude by DLG. Cezar lends his vocals to duet with La 45 bandleader Mike Torres, III. Give it a listen. [Also, wishes of good health to La 45 co-leader and trumpeter John Ontiveros!]

Frankie Caballero, Jr. – Legends Medley – I’ve been a fan of Frankie’s dad for ages, so, when Jr. showed up on the scene, it was easy to enjoy his music, too. This tribute medley to legends Chacha Jimenez y Los Chachos and Esteban Jordan includes Nunca Nunca Nunca, Te Recomiendo Esa Ingrata, and Falsa y Mancornadora. Great dancing music made by great musicians.

Thoughts on Viernes – 07152022 (Sabado Edition)

The Video

The release of the Uvalde video and the aftermath of the release is pretty ugly. While the people want the ineptitude of cops and political leaders at all levels proven quickly, too much went wrong in the process of releasing it. The video was leaked without much explanation of the content. Other than telling us that the screams of the kids were removed, nothing else was really explained and everything was left to be discussed by the viewers without much actual context. The families were not given an opportunity to watch the video first.

While the ineptitude of all levels of Texas government and law enforcement is obvious, the husband of one of the teachers who was shot was vilified for looking at his phone, when he was awaiting a call from his wife. All because much was left unexplained and people want accountability. Too much went wrong and this is disappointing because it detracts from getting to the bottom of this tragedy. Perhaps this was the intent of its release by Texas authorities to the press.

There will be a lot of blame going around, but we cannot trust DPS, Greg Abbott, or Uvalde’s local authorities to be honest with the people. I still think DOJ should be leading the investigation, since the border cops involved themselves in this whole thing.

Let’s Hope It’s Not A Superspreader

What part of COVID IS STILL HERE do you not understand? That is my message to Texas Democratic Convention attendees. They’re going around mostly unmasked at some pretty packed meetings. The selfies of all the fun reminds me of the golden calf scene in the 10 Commandments; they’re having so much fun at the confab and at the afterparties. Gives me the cringes.

Reminder: Dallas County recently upped it’s COVID warnings to “high.”

It’s obvious that both parties are just going with what the people want. With polls showing closer races all around, it’s not time to be controversial, I guess. Hell, Abbott’s failures during the pandemic haven’t even been mentioned! And neither has Abbott’s border boondoggle.

Congresswoman Garcia Leads Effort To Honor the Late Benny Martinez

The late Benny Martinez, a Houston community leader who led the way to achieve a meeting between LULAC and President John F. Kennedy in 1963, among so many other civil rights achievements, will have a Houston post office named in his honor. Martinez served his community as a nurse and as a Sheriff’s deputy for over thirty years, while also being at the forefront of community issues through various organizations. He was also a Veteran. HR 7832 was spearheaded by Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia. The post office is located on 4020 Broadway St.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Lots of new music hit this week.

The Latin Breed – Come and Get It – Known for their ability to go from Tejano to R&B in an instant, the legendary Latin Breed lays down some amazing musicality with this funky tune. Give it a listen and enjoy the vocals of Ben Miranda and the hard-driving Latin Breed horns.

Los Palominos – No Le Digas A Nadie – They’ve been warning us that they were dropping a sure hit and they came through. Uvalde’s own Los Palominos released this first single, and Humildes classic, since their personnel change. One thing is for sure, they have not lost any of their commitment to the legacy sound that put them on the map decades ago. If anything, this recent musical styling brings back some 90s hey-day memories. Our friends at Tejano Nation have more.

Grupo Fuerte – Mucho Corazon – The Houston-area’s own, Carlos Maldonado y Grupo Fuerte, has a long history as a heavy-hitting conjunto. This rendition of a classic on their 25th Anniversary, with some nice pasaditas on the bajo sexto, the dueling saxes, and a great vocal, is what we needed.

Joe Lopez y El Grupo Mazz – Dame La Mano – This is another Tejano single which has been charting in Mexico radio and on online platforms from the King of Tejano’s latest album, Love From The Heart. Written by Lopez, the tune has more of an 80s synth sound that fits in with the current demand for new tunes. The entire album is definitely a must-have.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Wow, I’ve missed a few tunes that are quite welcome in the Tejano sphere of things. Here are a few that ended up on my radar.

Joe Lopez y Grupo MazzAndo Que Me Lleva – The King of Tejano is back with a full-length album, Love From The Heart. The 12-track album offers up a mix of rancheras, cumbias, and ballads, boosted by the legacy sound that put Mazz at the top of the charts and touring schedules during the 90s hey-day. Although he’s put out a couple of tunes as singles, the one that really captured the legacy sound is Ando Que Me Lleva, with its powerful drumming and smooth accordion accompaniment. Give it a listen and listen to the whole album on YouTube before buying it.

Grupo Alamo – Confianza – One group that’s always captured my attention is Grupo Alamo from SATX. Led by accordionist Ernie Gonzalez and backed up by some amazing session players and fronted by DLG Alum Mark Ledesma (of LaDezz), they never fail at putting out some really good music. For good measure, the players include Grammy-winner Juan Trevino and current Mavericks squeezebox player Percy Cardona on Keyboards, which one really notices on this particular tune.

Santiago Jimenez, Jr. – Brincando Cercas – El Chief is back with a new album, Still Kickin’, and kickin’ and squeezin’ he is. Santiago offers up some classics played in his own way and backed up by Max Baca on Bajo Sexto and Noel Hernandez on the tololoche (upright bass). Brincando Cercas is a tune about a guy literally caught with his pants down when “en la movida.” It’s a funny tune and sounds great done in the traditional “singin’ ’round the fire” style.

Behind the Mic with Little Joe – My Friend AC Cruz has a new podcast up featuring the legendary King of the Brown Sound Little Joe Hernandez. After 60 years of recording and touring, Little Joe is still on the road. This podcast takes us through his career, his civil rights and labor advocacy, and even singing with Willie Nelson! Click here for the podcast.

Cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz in the News

Lalo Alcaraz and Me at the 2007 Latino Book and Family Festival

Recently, editorial cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz was awarded the Herblock Prize for his work on La Cucaracha and his syndicated editorial cartoons. Lalo has been a finalist for a Pulitzer twice, with the last nom not being awarded to any of the nominees for some reason that even ended with the category being cancelled. The Herblock is huge nonetheless, considering Lalo is the first “nonwhite” to earn it.

The judges stated “Powerful versatility. That is one way to describe the work of cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz. Alcaraz is equally as comfortable creating a faux woodblock print to address our country’s history of racism and xenophobia as he is mocking up a blueprint to satirize a rich white billionaire with a space rocket. From a stark dripping red MAGA hat that could be the corporate logo for the bloody January 6th insurrection, to a complex movie poster parody ridiculing right-wing conspiracies, Alcaraz’s cartoons always hit their mark.

and

Alcaraz is active in using cartoons and animation to battle vaccine hesitancy and Covid misinformation in the Latino community with the organization CovidLatino.org and the California Department of Public Health. He is currently Virtual Artist In Residence for the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University. He is a graduate of San Diego State University (BA in Art) and UC Berkeley (Master’s in Architecture).

The New Yorker’s Graciela Mochkofsky penned a feature on Lalo describing his long journey to “mainstream acceptance.” Is it really acceptance? Well, that’s a question whose answer continues to develop, but the road to get this far hasn’t been easy.

Now he has finally been accepted. Or has he? “I get a lot of hate mail,” Alcaraz said in his acceptance speech. A few days later, during a Zoom call from Los Angeles, he told me, “There is still this American societal attitude that we are foreign.”

It’s a great read, particularly the reminder that at one point the local fish wrap (The Chron) buckled to their right-wing readers’ offended sensibilities and banned La Cucaracha. A low-point for the Pulitzer winning operation, huh? (I guess that category wasn’t cancelled.) That impromptu protest against the Chron at the Latino Book and Family Festival was fun!

Anyway, read the New Yorker piece about Lalo Alcaraz. Learn something.

Tollways to Trailways Approved by County

La Leona

ABC-13 and others reported on this new plan from the Harris County Toll Road Authority to spend $53 million on connecting 236 miles of hike and bike trails along the Sam Houston Tollway.

According to Commissioner and avid cyclist Rodney Ellis, expending money from toll road surplus monies for this work is in compliance with the statute that created the Toll Road Authority as it improves accessibility, safety and transportation. Connecting the trails would provide, in the long run, an opportunity for an 80 mile loop around the region.

It is definitely something that is needed as Houston competes with the Central Texas region which is creating a San Antonio to Austin trail which runs for 100 miles and would connect the Great Springs of the region, including Barton, San Marcos, Comal, and San Antonio springs. Like HCTRA’s, this is a long-term project. No doubt, such projects create opportunities for economic development and tourism, not to mention healthier communities.

As far as paying for it, the 2 right-wing, naysaying commissioners who voted against it feel that the toll road authority wasn’t created for this purpose. But alternate transportation on 2 or 3 wheels is still transportation and we need to get beyond Cagle and Ramsey’s concrete and air pollution thinking.

Personally, I like the idea as we need more connected trails out here on the West side of town and the trails/lanes need to reach inward toward the Galleria area (my neighborbood). That means we need a new County Commissioner who actually listens to the people to work with a supportive city government. Precinct 4 is not well-represented at the moment, as Cagle’s no vote on so many Dem-supported programs tells us. La Leona, my Trident Trikes recumbent trike, is ready for some new trails and connectors.

We are learning just how important elections are, and a Democratic majority on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court must remain for these innovative programs to continue.