Tag Archives: festival chicano

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.

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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!

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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Little Joe Wows MOT Crowd–Again!

Little Joe y La Familia headlined Friday night’s line-up at the 36th Annual Festival Chicano. Energized by another SRO-out crowd–including thousands seated on the hill–La Familia returned the favor with an energized show packed with hits and a couple of surprises.

Ljoe1Heading toward 75, Little Joe has not lost the voice and stage presence that made him an international superstar who has recorded and toured with greats, such as Willie Nelson and Tierra. Kicking off the gig with a medley of his early hits, such as  Cuidadito and La Bola Negra, the hits continued. Even Little Joe felt the energy of the crowd when the they joined him on Prieta Linda.

One surprise was LJ giving the main mic to bassist Mike Torres, III who belted out the salsa-tinged cumbia, El Alacran. Later, Little Joe would belt out Cartas Marcadas, Chicano national anthem Las Nubes, Borrachera, Cuando Salgo a Los Campos, and the tried and true Pa’ Todo El Año.

In between, Little Joe would bring out Neal Sharpe who would offer some R&B, as well as Houston Jazz pianist/keyboardist and La Familia alumnus Gilbert Sedeño for an instrumental version of Mañana de Carnaval–flawlessly and without having rehearsed prior to the concert.

LjoeDanielA poignant moment came when Little Joe brought out Festival organizer/founder Daniel Bustamante to recognize his most recent achievement:  Recognition by Mayor Annise Parker as an Hispanic Heritage honoree for Arts in the Community. Daniel will receive his award on Monday, October 5. A well-deserved recognition after 36 years of organizing an even which attracts thousands of Chicanos/Mexican Americans for a weekend of beautiful music and culture.

Earlier in the evening, we enjoyed the sounds of Cañonazo and Acordeon powerhouse AJ Castillo. So, it was a great night of dancing in your seats (since the union ushers didn’t allow any dancing in the aisles.) The best way to celebrate this event is with friends and family and I was lucky enough to enjoy it with both. Until the next Festival Chicano, ¡Que viva La Musica Tejana!

Kudos to Council Member Robert Gallegos for attending the event. It was a great opportunity for some hand-shaking, especially during the hour-and-a-half prior to the event while folks were picnicking. Too bad other candidates didn’t take this opportunity to do the same; although, I did hear of a few at the other festival down the street. Anyway…

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Me and 10,000 of my closest friends.

Oct 1-2-3: Festival Chicano Houston!

It’s that time of the year, again! That time of year when thousands of Chican@s get together to enjoy three nights of Musica Chicana (Tejano, to others) to celebrate 523+ years of Chicanismo, and 36 years of Cultura here in Houston. Here’s the line-up.

Thanks to organizer Daniel Bustamante. And congrats to Daniel for being chosen for one of Mayor Parker’s Hispanic awards this year!

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Event: 34th Annual Festival Chicano Line-Up Announced [HOUSTON]

We all know that every month is Hispanic Heritage Month, and Houston is the place to be October 3 – 5, for the 34th Annual Festival Chicano. The line-ups have been announced for the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances at Miller Outdoor Theater.

Concert organizer Daniel Bustamante has done it again. Here’s the line-up:

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2013:

David Lee Garza y Los Musicales

Sunny Ozuna & The Sunliner Band

Shelly Lares

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2013:

Little Joe y La Familia

Elida y Avante

Zenteno Spirit

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2013:

Jay Perez

David Marez

Tortilla Factory featuring Charro Negro

Every night is a huge night, whether you want to listen to the new vocalist fronting Los Musicales (Juaquin Cura), Little Joe’s tried and true “Las Nubes,” or the return of the African-American Onda Chicana vocalist Bobby Butler “El Charro Negro” with the Tortilla Factory. The rest of the bands are pretty damn good, too.

So, start making plans for this truly Mexican American music and cultural festival. There is no other event like it in Houston.

This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30am-1pm. If tickets remain at 1pm, the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.