Los Texmaniacs brought with them founding Texas Tornados Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyers and guitarist Johnny Nicholas and brought down The Heights Theater on Friday, 12/23/16. With a mix of Tex-Mex Conjunto, Tex-Mex Rock, and a dash of Country music, the sell-out crowd at the recently re-opened theater enjoyed a truly Tex-Mex Holiday concert.
Los Texmaniacs, led by Grammy winner Max Baca, solidified their place as Americana Music stars showing a diverse crowd that their music goes above and beyond what is usually expected from a Tex-Mex outfit.
I arrived early to gauge fan conversations, though. I didn’t know what to expect from the fans. The convos I heard ranged from love for Augie to worshipping of Flaco. And that was from the Anglos in the audience. They did ask: Who are The Texmaniacs? Some were confused as they recalled Augie and Flaco as being part of The Texas Tornados. Boy, did they learn who The Texmaniacs are.
Truth be told, though, Max Baca was part of The Texas Tornados touring band. Beyond that, he’s considered Flaco Jimenez a musical father, a mentor, and even a teacher, back when Max was a kid. Decades later, Max gets to play mentor and teacher to his 24 year-old nephew Josh Baca who is on track to becoming an accordion legend like Flaco.
And, yes, there was music. The Maniacs’ first set was a short one and totally Tex-Mex. Kicking off with Lucerito and an instrumental of El Paso and San Antonio Rose. The usual Tex-Mex history lesson is always interesting which included an instrumental of Muchachos Alegres. Then came some country with How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly. Emotions ran high with a beautiful rendition of Cancion Mixteca. But there was also a new cumbia about a panadero. Most impressive was Johnny Nicholas providing rhythm guitar to the conjunto tunes, as well as some rockin’ solos.
The second much longer set brought on Augie Meyers to a loud response from the crowd. The talent who gave us Hey Baby Que Paso gifted us with that tune and so many others from his solo and Tornados career. Who Were You Thinking Of was one of my favorites. Of course, tears also “Flo’d” (for me) when Augie took on Mama Came To Visit Me In Texas, with only him and the piano. Little did I know it was about a Mama visiting her son from the afterlife, which hit me pretty hard this holiday season. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Flaco took the stage. He’s had a rough couple of years after a fall and some back and hip surgery, but his 30 minute set was indeed memorable and hard-driving. His accordion playing through Marina and Viva Seguin was impeccable, but it was a couple of tunes that put Flaco on the “mainstream” scene that got a great response. Dwight Yoakum’s Streets of Bakerfield and The Mavericks’ All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down were just amazing. As Flaco ended his part of the show, he thanked the crowd and then broke into a rendition of Feliz Navidad, on which The Texmaniacs easily joined in. And thanks to Flaco’s son who does so much for his daddy.
The rest of the show was rockin’ with a mix of tunes and genres. Danny Martinez on Drums and Noel Hernandez on Bass provided quite the rhythm section, while Augie Meyers stayed on stage with some improv piano accompaniment to conjunto tunes that seemed just right, especially Mexico Americano. (Max didn’t dedicate it to Trump this time, but by that time the beer seemed to be flowing pretty good amongst the crowd.)
All of this earned Los Texmaniacs, Augie, Flaco, and Johnny multiple standing ovations. And deservedly so.
Every time I leave a Texmaniacs gig I ask myself: Can they get any better? This was my third time seeing them this year and the answer is a resounding YES! Let’s hope promoters keep bringing them back to Houston. Perhaps as an opener for The Mavericks when they come to town again. (One can dream, right?)
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, y’all!