Tag Archives: los texmaniacs

Performing Artists Take Multiple Hits During COVID-19

Los Texmaniacs at Heights Theater, Christmas 2019

Writing and reading about Grammy-winning performer Max Baca’s fight with COVID-19 had me thinking about the multiple hits (health and financial) artists and performers are taking during the pandemic. An article in the San Antonio Report about Baca and other musician’s struggles really hit me with this reality.

During the pandemic, Baca took care in keeping himself safe–virtual concerts on Wednesdays to make a few bucks via Paypal donations, and mostly living off of his savings. Eight months later, with savings depleted, Baca hit the road again to pay the bills and ventured into danger.

Trump’s promises that the pandemic was a temporary thing that would disappear were outright lies that fed into a disinformation campaign to keep people confused and acting stupidly; but, the reality is that it is long-term, cutting into most performer’s ability to make money and pay their bills. And that included Baca’s band Los Texmaniacs.

After whittling down his life savings trying to stay afloat while the coronavirus pandemic brought his live performances to a grinding halt, Baca knew he needed to look outside of his hometown of San Antonio for gigs to pay the bills.

That desperation took the guitarist and vocalist to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he found a few paying gigs playing with a stripped-down version of his Grammy Award-winning band Los Texmaniacs.

“I still gotta pay my mortgage because there’s no such thing as a deferred payment” from his lender, Baca said, noting that all his bills were urgently coming due.

It was a decision that has now put his career in jeopardy.

San Antonio Report, 11/22/2020

Baca contracted COVID-19 and has spent almost a couple of weeks in ICU recovering.

Another reality is that federal CARES funds that helped many small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic were quite complicated for musicians and performers to apply for and receive. The competition was fierce for the funds, not to mention that they were limited. And Baca, unfortunately, did not receive any funding. Now, he’s fighting COVID-19, on top of no performances, no health insurance, and the extra $600 in unemployment payments about to end.

For many performers, the gigs are their livelihood, and we have seen a recent uptick in live performances at clubs and event centers around the state. And all of this during the current COVID-19 surge. Are these the next super-spreader events that we are not hearing about in the news?

Because that is the reality: Crowded performances mean more infections if CDC protocols are not followed. And it seems the maskless and easily offended by the CDC always win in Texas, thanks to Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick. Still, venues and performers have a responsibility to enforce CDC protocols, including testing before performances–even requiring it for attendees of these indoor events. There is very little (or none) of this happening.

Houston recently announced a program dedicated to helping musicians and music venues get through the pandemic. Musicians are eligible for up to $5000, while venues are eligible for $50,000 to $100,000 depending on budget size. Unfortunately, we’re only talking about $3,000,000. But it’s something.

Some bands have built a good infrastructure to continue despite COVID-19. Unfortunately, many of them did not have the ability (or maybe confidence) to create a strong virtual presence. Bands like The Mavericks have taken to pay-per-view concerts based on a loyal fan base willing to pay the virtual door fee. Intocable were one popular band that were able to do a mini-tour of outdoor parking lot concerts in various parts of the state to some success.

And there are others in the Tejano industry who have done Facebook Live gigs asking for donations. Unfortunately, virtual gigs don’t give a band the feel of a live show with an energetic crowd. Still, it’s an opportunity that some of these Tejano bands have not fully utilized and that fans have not fully appreciated (through good donations).

There doesn’t seem to be much of a solution and as long as COVID-19 surges, there will be an eventual shutdown–or more limits on attendance. It is easy to tell these bands and venues that they have a responsibility to keep people from attending super-spreader events, but somewhere along the way, musicians were left to fend for themselves with little to no help. Thus, some are back on the road with no CDC compliance and a fan base that feels invincible to the disease (until they find out they aren’t). It’s a vicious circle.

While the HEROES Act passed by the Democratic US House sits in limbo because of a vindictive Republican US Senate and President, at the very least the $600 of extra unemployment benefits must be extended beyond Christmas. A better solution would be for Republicans and Trump to get off their asses and pass/sign a HEROES Act that takes care of gig-to-gig performers and artists whose talents have always been taken for granted.

Wear a mask. Wash hands. Stay home. And if you must work or be out and about, wear a mask, wash hands, and physically distance yourself from people outside of your home circle.

UPDATE: Los Texmaniacs report that Max Baca is now recovering at home. This is great news!

Los Texmaniacs, Rick Treviño Give History and Culture Lessons at Heights Theater

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.

Rick Trevino Debuts “I Am A Mexican” [VIDEO]

Continuing the musical theme of struggle and inclusion that one currently sees in the music industry, country crooner Rick Trevino debuts a new single, “I Am A Mexican.” Backed up by Grammy winning acordeonista Flaco Jimenez, the poignant song about the real struggles of a laboring immigrant is timely as negative rhetoric and negative policies toward brown people continue to intensify.

For years, now, the country singer, who started his career in bilingual fashion, has been working on his roots, participating in projects, such as Los Super Seven, singing Tejano with Ruben Ramos, and adding a Tex-Mex flavor to his tunes. So, it’s not surprising that he has come to this point where he is able to address one of the most heated issues in America.

Here’s I Am A Mexican. While the song is poignant, it’s the images in the video that are powerful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 4/15 – Los TexManiacs at Discovery Green

Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs are headlining the Discovery Green Birthday Bash this coming Sunday, April 15. The Bash starts at noon with Los Texmaniacs hitting the stage around 4:35pm.

Discovery Green is celebrating 10 years and those years have been filled with plenty of great and free family events. Here is the schedule:

The event schedule is as follows:
12–4 p.m.
Cultural performances by Ballet Folklorico, Aztec dance by Danza Quetzalli, Dance of Asian America, Brazilian Arts Foundation and more on the Anheuser-Busch Stage

12:15–12:30 p.m.
Drumline on the White Promenade

1 p.m.
Reading by Writers in the Schools BLOOMS on the Lindsey Waterside Landing

1–3 p.m.
Performance by Cirque la Vie on the Jones Lawn

4–6 p.m.
Performances by Los Texmaniacs on the Anheuser-Busch Stage

Los Texmaniacs are set to release their new album, Cruzando Borders, on May 11. I’m pretty sure some of the new stuff is on their set-list. Go check them out and enjoy some Tex-Mex Conjunto and Americana music.

Los Texmaniacs’ Cruzando Borders To Be Released on May 11

With anti-Mexican hate on the rise, I haven’t felt too bloggy lately. If anything, it’s been down-right depressing. Trump is militarizing the border, again. (Remember, Obama did it in 2010 to appease Republicans.) So, what’s the best way to respond to this kind of pendejismo? Musica y cultura always works for me!

So, when Los Texmaniacs posted on their social media that their upcoming album will be released on May 11, 2018, happiness ensued! Cruzando Borders, on the Smithsonian Folkways Recording label, will offer up some hard-core Tex-Mex Conjunto stylings featuring various themes and messages. Here’s the text of a recent article on the album:

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is proud to release ‘Cruzando Borders’ from the GRAMMY Award-winning conjunto group Los Texmaniacs, including dynamic feature performances from fellow GRAMMY winners Lyle Lovett, Rick Fuentes and Rick Treviño. This is the band’s third album for the label, following 2012’s ‘Texas Towns & Tex-Mex Sounds’ and 2009’s ‘Borders y Bailes.’ On the 14-song ‘Cruzando Borders,’ Los Texmaniacs remain close to their conjunto roots, and the result is a joyous, poignant work that grows in meaning with each listen. The release is a fitting addition to Smithsonian Folkways’ 70th year anniversary celebration.

Listen to a 3-song sampler.

The band is quick to point out that ‘Cruzando Borders’ is more than music; it was crafted to send a message. Prompted by negative public rhetoric about the U.S.-Mexican border and Mexican culture, and inspired by the transcendent brotherhood and exquisite beauty of the border life they have experienced, Los Texmaniacs have created an album that asserts pride in both their native Mexican culture and U.S. nationhood. 

Bajo sexto master Max Baca, who cut his teeth with the hit-making, crossover band The Texas Tornados, founded Los Texmaniacs in 1997. He sought to form a group that espoused the traditions of Tejano music he grew up with and combined them with elements of blues, rock, country and jazz. He enlisted his nephew, Josh Baca, a highly skilled accordion player who, on Max’s urging, absorbed the fundamental style and repertoire of the deep conjunto tradition – old-time Tejano polkas, redovas, chotises(schottisches), waltzes and huapangos – to create what Josh calls his “Texas gumbo – my own posole” (Mexican hominy soup).

The Bacas added drummer and multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Martínez, who brought to Los Texmaniacs a style that incorporated both Mexican and Chicano cultures as well as American grooves (he’s a hardcore James Brown fan). Next came multi-instrumentalist Noel Hernández, who developed his skills as a performer deep in the heart of conjunto country in the Rio Grande Valley. Hernández’s virtuosic abilities and vast musical heritage made him a natural fit.

While ‘Cruzando Borders’ sees Los Texmaniacs rededicating themselves to the sounds that first influenced them, it is by no means an exercise in rote traditionalism; you can feel the band finding new facets in the conjunto form. On the crackling instrumental “La chicharronera,” Max and Josh duet majestically on bajo sexto and accordion while paying tribute to the song’s composer, Narcisco Martínez. That track, along with the zesty chotís (schottische) “Labios de coral” and the redova “El porrón,” point to the enduring social dance tradition that goes along with the music.

Throughout the album, on rousing cuts such as “Pablo de monte” and “El bracero fracasado,” a bold narrative emerges as the band explores the often tragicomic tales of cross-border life. On the aching ballad “Across the Borderline,” made famous by Willie Nelson and Freddy Fender, Max Baca’s supple voice is the perfect counterpoint for guest singer Rick Fuentes as they imagine a life where “every street is paved with gold, and it’s just across the borderline.” Lyle Lovett, who has worked with Baca in the super-group Los Super Seven, lends his plaintive vocals on the wistful campfire folk tune “Deportee,” with its evocative lyrics penned by Woody Guthrie. (Guthrie was inspired by a 1948 news article about a plane crash involving 28 unnamed migrant Mexican farm laborers who were being repatriated. The song itself has recently been featured in the news after artist Tim Z. Hernandez revealed the deportees’ real identities.) 

The delicate yet defiant country-laced ballad “I Am a Mexican” boasts lead vocals by its writer, Rick Treviño, also a Los Super Seven compatriot, and Max Baca calls it “a perfect example of the whole concept of this album. It says, ‘I am a Mexican, and God bless America.'” “Mexico Americano” is an irrepressibly upbeat polka peppered with Max and Noel’s passionate singing. Summing up why it’s the album’s opening track, Josh Baca says, “It’s a beautiful song because it identifies who we are. My grandparents on my mother’s side were born and raised in Mexico and moved over here to America to better their lives. That side of my family taught me that there’s more to life than just playing the accordion…values in life, morals. And the record represents that.”

With ‘Cruzando Borders,’ Los Texmaniacs make good on their mission to champion their musical and cultural heritage with deep, abiding pride and dazzling artistry. The album is as inspiring and soul enriching as it is timely and timeless. 

‘Cruzando Borders’ Track List:

1. Mexico Americano (Mexican American)

2. La pajarera (The Bird Vendor)

3. El bracero fracasado (The Failed Bracero)

4. I Am a Mexican

5. El porrón (The Slow Mover)

6. En avión hasta Acapulco (To Acapulco by Plane)

7. Deportee

8. Soy de San Luis

9. La chicharronera (The Pork Cracklings Maker)

10. Across the Borderline

11. Valentín de la sierra

12. Don Luis el Tejano

13. Pablo de monte (Pablo from the Hills)

14. Labios de coral (Lips of Coral)

Hill Top Cafe Benefit Concerts for Josh Baca of Los Texmaniacs

From the inbox:

Our friend, Josh Baca of Los Texmaniacs, lost his home to a house fire on New Year’s Eve. His family of seven was able to escape, but lost all of their possessions when their San Antonio rent house burned to the ground in a matter of minutes. The Baca family did not have renters insurance.

Our network of family, friends, and musicians are pulling together in an effort to raise money for this wonderful family. Hill Top Cafe will be sponsoring two evenings of music and relief efforts: Wednesday, February 21st and Saturday, February 24th.

Hill Top Cafe 10661 US-87
Fredericksburg, TX 78624 (830) – 997-8922

Some of Texas’s most revered artists (Marcia Ball, Johnny Nicholas), along with rising songwriters (Kelley Mickwee, Jaimee Harris) will be joining forces to raise funds and hope for the Baca family.

Hill Top Cafe will be serving a four course meal during the benefit shows, and will host a raffle. $100 per person / Lone Star Dining Room, $50 per person / Cavern Dining Room.

All proceeds will go to the Baca family in order to help them rebuild and recover.

Additional benefit concerts will be held in San Antonio and Austin.

Artists that will be participating at the various benefits to be held at Hill Top Café, Austin & San Antonio include:

  • Johnny Nicholas & Hell Bent
  • Bill Kirchen
  • Marcia Ball
  • The Delinquents’ from Lafayette Louisiana (Swing & Cajun)
  • Los Texmaniacs
  • Kelley Mickwee
  • Jaimee Harris
    MORE TBA…

For those of you who are unable to attend, but would still like to help, you may purchase raffle tickets or make a donation directly to the family.

Please contact Kayla at Hill Top Cafe for more information. (830) 997-8922reservation@hilltopcafe.com

Let’s Help Josh Baca of Los Texmaniacs

Max Baca, Stace, Josh Baca

One of my favorite Tex-Mex bands is the Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs, fronted by Max Baca and featuring his nephew Josh Baca on the accordion.

I try to catch their shows every time they come to Houston, and I’ve enjoyed reviewing their concerts and albums. They’re a bunch of great guys and accomplished musicians.

This past holiday, Josh Baca and his family lost everything when they suffered through a home fire. They escaped only with the clothes on their backs–and we all know it’s been pretty cold.

A GoFundMe was created to help the family get back to basics as they get back on their feet. Many in the Tex-Mex music community have done their part. No doubt, Josh will work even harder to get back to where they were. Let’s all do our part and help a great musician and purveyor of our cultura.

DC Reviews: Los Cenzontles ~ Carta Jugada

Get back to your roots, gente!

And with Carta Jugada, Los Cenzontles have given us a good way to do that.

Joining up with Los Texmaniacs and Flaco Jimenez, Los Cenzontles (a nahuatl word for mockingbird) have given us an amazing album of standards backed up by some amazing accordion, bajo sexto, guitar, tough bass lines and drums. Simple and to the point.

But it’s the voices of Fabiola Trujillo and Lucina Rodriguez that power this album from start to finish. Starting with the old vals Que Sacrificio and bolero Libro Abierto, backed up by Flaco Jimenez, one gets a good feeling about where this album is going. Throw in another Flaco backed ranchera in the classic Hermosimo Lucero and the title track vals and one knows this is a special album.

While Flaco Jimenez is the foremost ambassador of the accordion, one cannot but place Texmaniac Josh Baca close to the top of that list of premier squeezebox players. And his abilities are evident in my favorite tune on the album, La Traicionera, along with the dexterous bajo playing of his Tio Max Baca.

If one is looking for a huapango, one will find it on this album. Lucina and Eugene Rodriguez provide the vocals on Los Juiles, which includes some amazing rhythms and bajo/guitar playing. The corrido, Nomas Las Mujeres Quedan, is a tune about dueling ranch dynasties and about the women who are left. Finally, the closing tune is another favorite sung by Fabiola and Lucina, the beautiful bolero Una Pagina Mas, about a woman ready to leave the past to move forward in love and life.

The album is up at the different online sites. Get your copy now from Amazon or their Online Store.

About Los Cenzontles

Los Cenzontles is a band, a nonprofit organization, a music academy, a community space for youth and families, and a hub for Latino artists – all working together to amplify our Mexican roots here in the Bay Area and beyond.

We produce original music, videos, and educational tools. We teach classes to hundreds of local youth in traditional Mexican music, dance, and arts and crafts. We host many popular community events throughout the year.

Locally, we are a second home for many families and we are a long-standing leader in the Mexican roots revival here in the United States.

Make a contribution to this organization today.

 

Los Texmaniacs, Flaco, Augie, and Guitar Johnny Conquer The Heights Theater

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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!

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.