Festival Chicano Saturday: Shelly Lares, Ram Herrera, and David Lee Garza

culturaThe final night of Festival Chicano brought out a lot of people, as always, but I’d never seen the Hill at Miller Outdoor Theater as packed as it was. The crowd, the energy, and the talent on Saturday made for a pretty special night.

shellyTejano icon Shelly Lares, still looking as young as when she started, reminded us that she was about to celebrate 34 years of being in the biz. It reminded me that I’d been a fan pretty much from the beginning of her recording career, at about the same time that another young talent was about to take the business by storm–Selena. They were buds, by the way. Lares and her band started out strong with a medley of cumbias, and she peppered the set with medleys of ranchera hits along the way. Tunes from the 90s through today were strong on the set-list:  Soy Tu Amor, Ganas de Besarte, Es Que Estoy Enamorada, Mil Besos, Yo Quiero Saber and more. Volver Volver brought the house down, while her show-closing rendition of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ was impressive. Lares showed much appreciation for the fans–and in this industry it’s the fans that keep the music alive.

ramherreraTejano crooner and David Lee Garza y Los Musicales alum Ram Herrera took the stage with The Outlaw Band and provided a powerful show of new and classic hits from his solo and Musicales career. Already on year 35 of a storied Tejano music career, Ram Herrera still has that magical voice. Amor Querido, La Mancha, Rosas Para Una Rosa, Ahora Dile, Entre Cantina y Cantina, Tragos Profundos, Tejanita, Yo Soy, The Chair, Amor y Besos…you know them all. He also offered up a couple of new tunes:  Eres Mi Todo and Donde Estara. With a solid band backing him, he kept the crowd excited and singing along.

davidleecezDavid Lee Garza is credited with launching the careers of Ram Herrera, Jay Perez, Marcos Orozco, and the late Emilio Navaira. Lately, he’s offered up a series of young vocalists who keep the band busy. Cezar Martinez has a unique voice that stays strong throughout a performance and last night was no different. From singing the early hits that were voiced by Herrera and Navaira to the 90s smashes of Perez and Orozco, Martinez delivered impressively. Los Musicales, in business for over 40 years, provided some amazing play that not many bands can equal live. New hits like El Privilegio (which included songwriter Juan Treviño on the bajo) and Niña Coquetera were positioned among classic tunes like Cuatro Caminos, De Que Te Quejas, Me Vuelvo Enamorar, Paloma Sin Nidal, Hasta Cuando, Dos Corazones, oh, the list goes on. We’ve come to love these guys because they’re humble, talented, and all about the music. And that’s exactly what they gave another packed house at Festival Chicano.

Congrats to Daniel Bustamante and the Festival Chicano crew on a 37th feat of musical awesomeness. No doubt, thousands of Chicanos were happy with the end-product, and we anxiously await the 38th. If anything, you may want to add a Sunday tardeada next year. (Kidding!) We just can’t get enough of our cultura.

Festival Chicano Friday: Little Joe, Latin Breed, and Isabel Marie

Friday was another big night for La Onda Chicana. Thanks to Festival Chicano organizer, Daniel Bustamante, this one was one for the history books.

The evening began with a reminder from Bustamante:  Tejano is not dead. As much as the gringos in the business or the gringos at the rodeo want to tell us, it’s just not true. Thousands attending a weekend series of concerts ought to tell everyone this. Is it a struggle? Of course! But one only has to watch the musicians on stage to show that they love what they do. And the crowd loves them for it.

The most poignant reminder of the struggle was when Bustamante brought out the producer/promoter for 13 year-old Isabel Marie–one of the newest additions to the Tejano music industry. Abraham Quintanilla came out and offered a few words and also reminded us of that awful day 21 years ago. But that through all that has affected his family he continues to seek out and offer new talent shows his determination. Tejano isn’t dead.

isabelmarieIsabel Marie took the stage first and offered up a set of cumbias, rancheras, and even wowed us with her rendition of Selena’s No Me Queda Mas. At 13, she has a pretty powerful voice. As a stage performer, she is poised, but at 13, she also shows off that awkward stage a teen goes through. (If a crowd applauded me, I’d be a little geek’d out, so it’s understandable.) Still, she showed range, emotion, and the ability to keep a crowd engaged for an entire show. Great job, Isabel Marie. Keep at it!

adalbertoThe Legendary Latin Breed was up next with Adalberto Gallegos at the helm. Hundreds of years of experience took the stage–even Adalberto was a member at age 19 in 1976. Kicking off with 1988’s Latin Breed Medley, they continued on to Yo Lo Comprendo, Todos Dicen, and even ventured one of Adalberto’s solo hits from 1990, Tristes Recuerdos and a hit that I once owned on a 45 rpm record (kids, look that up), El Cisne. Adalberto wowed us with If You Need Me, too. All of this backed up by a precision-based horn section and the bass action of Stanley Revillas and guitaristics of Steve Velasquez.

littlejoeThe crowd loved every performance, but there was no doubt that they were waiting for The King of the Brown Sound–Little Joe. Another band of highly experienced, highly disciplined musicians, La Familia took off in fine form with a medley of Little Joe’s best ballads–Rebelde, Recuerdas Querido Amigo, and Por Un Amor. Then came Redneck Mes’kin Boy and Mi Nena. Then came some blues music with Lonely, Lonely Nights, which Little Joe delivered impressively, backed up by amazing horn and guitar action. Bass master Mike Torres, III delivered on cumbia El Alacran and percussionist Sam Jones on My Girl. The night continued with hit after hit, including Cartas Marcadas, and the big finish with Las Nubes and Borrachera. Of course, the encore brought folks back to their seats and then to their feet with a sing-a-long of Jose Alfredo’s classic, Ella.

In between, Little Joe reminded the crowd of thousands to register to vote–Mi Familia Vota will be there all three nights. Of course, he also gave ol’ Trump a tongue lashing, including, “Vamos a darle en la madre a Trump!” which basically is the equivalent of, “Let’s knock him the f*** out!” Great crowd response to that. Finally, Little Joe’s white duds were in honor of El Leon de la Sierra, Alfonso Ramos, who passed away this last week.

chicharronesNo doubt, by the end of a La Familia gig, one is tired but oh so happy. And after three performances by everything from new talent to two bands that have been around for five decades, one can take a Saturday morning to re-energize with some chicharrones con huevos and then return to Miller Outdoor Theater in the evening for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, Ram Herrera and The Outlaw Band, and Little Miss Dynamite Shelly Lares.

Festival Chicano Thursday: David Marez, Los Monarcas, Elida Reyna

Well, I’m going for a record. I’ll attend all three nights of Festival Chicano 2016 and write a review for each night. Festival producer Daniel Bustamante never fails and filling each night with the best Tejano talent, but 2016 seems to be pretty special, and Thursday truly was.

losmonarcasThe evening opened up with conjunto titans Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz. Spanning three generations and five decades of existence, the band took the stage and played a one-hour non-stop gig. Ranchera after Ranchera, Los Monarcas took us through various hits and conjunto standards. They threw in a couple of cumbias, but returned to their tried and true foot-stomping rancheras. It was a great start to the festival.

davidmarezNext up, the legendary Voz de Oro, David Marez and his band People. Marez took us from his new material off of his Tejano Music Award nominated album, Groovin’ (No Soy El Mismo and Le Meneas), to his 80s and 90s hits (No Se A Donde Ni Con Quien and Dile Tu), and all the way back to his younger days as a member of The Royal Jesters (Yo Soy Chicano).

Beyond that golden voice and awesome musicians, he showed much appreciation for the crowd, which gave that appreciation right back. Acknowledging 37 years of Festival Chicano, he gave us all a lesson:  Tejano is our music and where we’re from, but we are Chicanos. That hit me right in the feels.

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Credit: Proud2BTejano (FB)

Tejano Diva Elida Reyna and Avante hit the stage while I was waiting on David Marez to get a photo and have a short conversation with him, but one could hear the music as Reyna also went through some of her hits–rancheras, cumbias, and ballads–earning a pretty loud response from the crowd. Unfortunately, no pics of her performance by this blogger, but I did borrow this one from Proud2BTejano–the kids love Elida’s power-packed performances. There are some pics out there on the internets, though.

Next review is for Friday’s line-up of Little Joe, Adalberto Gallegos and The Latin Breed, and new singing sensation Isabel Marie. Stay connected!

OCT 6: Senator Garcia’s Senior Crafts and Health Fair

From the Inbox:

Senator Sylvia R. Garcia of Senate District 6 invites the public to attend a Senior Crafts and Health Fair on Thursday, October 6th at the Aldine M.O. Campbell Center. During this free event attendees will be able to purchase handmade goods from local seniors and receive free health screenings from community partners.

“I hope to see the community participate in this event. It’s a great opportunity to support our local seniors who put so much into their crafts and have given so much to our community. We invite friends, family, and the general public to take part in the crafts and free health fair,” Garcia said.

This event is being held in partnership with Neighborhood Centers Incorporated.

WHAT:          Senator Garcia’s Senior Crafts & Health Fair 

WHEN:          Thursday, October 6th, 2016
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

WHERE:       M.O. Campbell Center
1865 Aldine Bender Road, Houston, TX 77032


La Senadora Sylvia R. Garcia del Distrito 6 del Senado de Tejas invita al publico a atender a la artesania de seniors de tercera edad el Jueves 6 de Octubre en el Aldine M.O. Campbell Center. Durante este evento gratis, los invitados podran comprar productos hechos a mano por los seniors, y podran recibir examenes de salud gratis dado por centros de la comunidad.

“Espero ver que la comunidad participe en este evento. Es una gran oportunidad para apoyar a nuestros seniors de la comunidad que ponen tanto esfuerzo en sus productos hechos a mano, y que han dado tanto a nuestra comunidad. Invitamos a amigos, a la familia, y al publico que participen en nuestro artesania de seniors de tercera edad y feria de salud.”

Este evento esta ciendo organizado en conjunto con Neighborhood Centers Incorporated.

QUE: La Artesania De Seniors De Tercera Edad y Feria De Salud

CUANDO: jueves 6 de Octubre 2016 de 10:00am-2:00pm

DONDE: M.O. Campbell Center, 1865 Aldine Bender Rd. Houston TX 77032

2 DC Reviewed Albums Earn Latin Grammy Noms

tejanolatingrammynoms2016As my friends at Tejano Nation posted this week, the Latin Grammy noms are out, and in the Tejano Album category, two DosCentavos reviewed albums are nominated. Maybe they read my stuff, maybe it’s because the albums are just that good, but congrats to Ram Herrera (VMB Music Group) and Jay Perez (Freddie Records) on the nomination.

On Ram’s Mucho Mas Que Amor:  I’ve got to admit:  When I read the announcement that Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez and Tejano great Chente Barrera partnered up to form VMB Music Group, I expected them to produce some amazing material, but Ram Herrera’s Mucho Mas Que Amor is one of those productions that has staying power.

On Jay’s Un Amigo Tendras:  Tejano crooner Jay Perez is back with his long-awaited release, Un Amigo Tendras. After riding the radio waves with the title track, a smooth sax-driven cumbia, we get to enjoy the other 11 tunes. That’s right–12 tunes on this Freddie Records release. Produced by Mario Ortiz, this new production really hits the spot.

Both albums get some serious rotation on “Radio DosCentavos,” AKA my car stereo.

Also gaining a Latin Grammy nomination are LA’s La Santa Cecilia for Buenaventura for Best Pop/Rock Album.

Congrats to the nominees. The Latin Grammy telecast will be on November 17.

RIP: Juan Gabriel

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Alberto Aguilera Valadez “Juan Gabriel” (1950-2016)

“Mientras exista alguien que cante mis canciones, Juan Gabriel vivirá.”

Event: 37th Festival Chicano ~ OCT 6, 7, 8, 2016

Time to lock-in Festival Chicano on your calendar! See you there! (Note:  Saturday line-up changed as Mazz is unable to make it. Ram Herrera added to the line-up with David Lee Garza headlining.)

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DC Reviews: Veronique ~Mi Año Dorado

Originally posted at TejanoNation.net.

veroniqueSome say that the Tejano music genre is in a struggle; others say it’s on an upswing. While our mainstays, like David Lee Garza, Jay Perez, Elida Reina and others keep at it, as fans, we need to seek out new talent for our hungry ears. AMI Records artist Veronique offers the sort of vocal talent that can just as easily join that group of mainstay artists to keep Tejano strong.

A few years after her debut album Encantadora, she has released her sophomore production, Mi Año Dorado, and, I must tell you, it’s an album that is exactly what we fans look for–de todo un poco. The RGV native and graduate of UT-Pan Am delivers on all kinds of tunes, including rancheras, cumbias, boleros, and mariachi-styled numbers.

Kicking off with a smooth Tejano cumbia, Te Entrego Mi Corazon, she leaves no doubt about how enjoyable the album will be. El Mas Grande de Mis Errores is one of those female empowerment tunes, acknowledging the mistake that a certain man is in one nice little tell-off–all in a rancherita to which one can zapatear. As real as that song is, La Pulga, another boot-stomping rancherita about having a date at a flea market, is as real as it gets. The more Norteña Su Mujer is just as danceable, with Veronique offering up some vocal range throughout the tune.

Cumbias are also the order of the day including a modern-styled Regresa A Mi, but it is Primer Amor which takes folks back to the sock-hop days with a 50s-esque intro and do-wop style. Fantasia, though, brings it back to the modern style and Vinyl Viernes takes us on a more tropical trip that includes some heavy percussion. Not lost, though, is Veronique’s full-voiced delivery.

Vete de Aqui and Blanco y Negro provide some acordeon-heavy boleros that show off Veronique’s range and abilities. But it’s the album-closer that will definitely be a fan favorite at live shows as the Mariachi-styled Sobrevivire will cause some mujer-led, grito-filled sing-a-longs.

Veronique Medrano’s career is definitely on the upswing as she has opened for major acts all over the state of Texas. Nominated for the Tejano Music Awards “Best New Female Artist” category, she is definitely being noticed. Down in El Magico Valle, she is also a co-host with Mando San Roman on Puro Tejano TV. And she’s about to embark on a Texas tour, which begins in Baytown on August 13. So, keep an eye out for her upcoming events on her website.

Thanks to John Henry Medina from Tejano Nation for putting Veronique on my radar. One can download Mi Año Dorado at CDBaby or buy the CD at Veronique’s website.

 

 

The Krayolas Release “Piñata Trump” and “El Cucuy”

Just in time for the political convention season, Chicano rock-and-roll group The Krayolas have dropped two tracks for our listening pleasure.  Piñata Trump is a little self-explanatory and fun to dance–or to  break a certain piñata to. El Cucuy is the story of that scariest of characters who has been the basis of our parents threats, or maybe it’s just Trump.

Give these tunes a listen.

Los Texmaniacs Conquer Under The Volcano…Again!

lostexm2While most of my friends were at home watching a dumpster fire (the RNC), I took the night off from forming an ulcer and headed over to Under the Volcano on Bissonnet to catch my favorite Tex-Mex conjunto super group, Los Texmaniacs. Having caught their show at such an intimate locale in February, I figured catching them again would be better than the last time. And it was! This time, I brought the whole familia.

A very diverse crowd came ready for what was truly an Americana music show. Although they can sling that conjunto music like no one’s business, they add some country, Mexican traditional, cumbia rhythms, and some rock-tinged Tex-Mex to the set-list with ease. They blazed through a diverse set of songs for two straight hours–other than a few stops for sip of something cold, or a quick adjustment to an amp.

They kicked off with the haunting Danzon Juarez, which allowed each of the musicians to show off their chops, particularly Bajo Sexto king Max Baca, and his nephew Josh Baca, an already accomplished accordionist at age 24. With an already full dance floor swaying to this tango-esque tune, they moved on to their tried and true Tex-Mex ranchera stylings with a single from their current CD Americano Groove, Como Te Quiero which then transformed into an accordion instrumental polkita.

Then came How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly, I Wanna Know Your Name, an education lesson on how Tex-Mex conjunto was created, and a personal favorite, Cancion Mixteca. A Huapango/Chotis medley and a medley of Ruben Vela hits “al estilo Valle de Tejas,” and one had the perfect evening. But there was more!

lostexmAfter they closed the show with upcoming single Mexico Americano, the crowd yelled for more:  “Otra! Otra!” Max re-plugged in his Bajo to the amp and the band seared through another hit single, Down in the Barrio, which ended with rockin’ solos from the all the band members, including:  Tio Baca and Nephew Baca, as well as Noel Hernandez-Bass; Daniel Martinez-Drums; and Fernando Martinez-Rhythm Guitar.

With each tune, the Bacas provided their own personal touch–a hot pasadita on the squeezebox, a bit of axemanship on the bajo. I’m looking forward to their next Houston visit.

Los Texmaniacs will be performing at SA’s newest venue, The Squeezebox, on Friday, July 22. Go check them out!

Here’s a live sample from a show at A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keiler.