Tag Archives: tex-mex

DC Review: SIGGNO En Vivo

Tex-Mex showband and Latin Grammy winners Siggno just released their long-awaited live album, “En Vivo.” Recorded in multiple cities, including Houston and Laredo, Jesse Turner and his tight-knit band give us a good live recording–as good as their live shows, which are really good. Kudos to Freddie Records for some great post-production work.

siggnoFans who love them will miss the light and pyro show they sometimes bring with them, but what listeners will definitely not miss is the power-drumming of Joey Jimenez and the rock-n-bajo of Richard Rosales. And what listeners definitely get is a drive through Siggno’s 14-year career, with recent hits like Mi Mundo Se Acabo and Yo Quisiera Detenerte and earlier hits like Pero Hablama and Estupida. Other hits, like Mejor Dimelo, and Ya No Me Importa will definitely keep hard-core fans happy. The album even has a tear-jerker part in which band leader Turner dedicates Mama to his mom.

What many fans were awaiting was the release of four new tracks. Getting much airplay and YouTube hits is En La Basura. Enamorados, Tonto Corazon, and Duele definitely have the potential to be fan favorites.

All-in-all, it’s a great collector’s item and cruising partner for those sunny Sundays.

 

 

 

DC Reviews ~ Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca – Legends and Legacies

The good folks at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings continue to invest in nuestra cultura, and that’s a good thing. Accordion King Flaco Jimenez, and Bajo Sexto Master Max Baca have collaborated on a very special production, Legends and Legacies.

SFW40569No doubt, there is a back story to this production as some of these are classic songs once recorded by Flaco’s dad, Santiago Jimenez, Sr. 70 years into his career, Flaco is among the legends of Tex-Mex, much like his father. For Baca, it is an opportunity to take his place as part of a legacy in the Tex-Mex genre having grown up as a part of Flaco’s musical family–even calling him a father figure in his life. And for listeners, we get the opportunity to enjoy some hard-core Tex-Mex conjunto music with some amazing button-acordeon from the legend and some of the most dexterous bajo sexto shredding from Baca.

A few songs are recorded in “fire-side” style–bajo, acordeon, and upright bass, such as the classic Margarita, Margarita, Me Voy Lejos, Mi Primer Amor, Los Amores de Jose, Jardin de las Flores, Morena Morenita, and a favorite, Beer-Drinking Polka.

When you add some drums to the mix, you get some powerful polkas rancheras, like Cada Vez Que Cae La Tarde, El Pesudo, Borradita Diente de Oro (The DC favorite), El Parrandero, the funny Brincando Cercas, and the even funnier La Viejita. La Nueva Zenaida and Ay Te Guacho Cucaracho will definitely be crowd favorites.

Cumbia lovers get the tried and true, La Mucura. The closer is another favorite, Fiesta Alegre.

And yes, in case you weren’t counting, that’s seventeen (17) tracks, which makes this production a lot more awesome than most. Seldom do we get this many classic tracks which are given the musical respect they deserve. Baca’s bajo sexto complements Flaco’s acordeon, and vice-versa. More than anything, it seems this duo is trying to school us on from where it is our music has come because it’s always good to come home to our roots. And to take from the liner notes”:

A common goal of Flaco and Max is to gain respect for their musical legacy beyond their Texas Mexican community while making the point that the roots traditions of all people deserve that same respect. “There’s a space for all kinds of  music,” Flaco says, emphasizing that he respects other musics and the people who carry them on in the space where “les nace” (they are born). He is pleased that his efforts have led people of other cultures to play his music: “There are Japanese, Italian conjuntos. In Paris, too. They play well because they emulate the roots that we have here in San Antonio.”

Rounding out the studio line-up are Flaco’s son, David on the drums, and Texmaniac, Oscar Garcia on the bass.

 

NPR had a great report on the new production last week. Give it a listen. It’s good for those who need to be schooled on Tex-Mex conjunto music.

The new music is available at Itunes and directly from Smithsonian Folkways.

Tejano Music: The Onda Continues

I need to give a tip of the DC sombrero to Vicente Arenas at KHOU for a great report on the resurgence of the Tejano music genre.

The early style of Tejano was wildly popular in Houston  until the mid 90s.

It was during that time that Tejano went off the radio airwaves in Houston. Artists just couldn’t sell the music, all because of a lack of star power.

Selena’s death left a gaping hole in Tejano music and since then, things have never been the same.

Fans, though, are hardcore and refuse to let it go.

“The music—the musicians—we are still here. It’s the support mechanisms that are not there anymore, but things are changing now,” said Jesse “Jumpin Jess” Rodriguez, a Tejano expert.

The 90s were an awesome time for the genre, no doubt. Corporations like Capitol Records, Sony, and others had taken over La Onda, signing up some of the biggies like Little Joe y La Familia, Mazz, La Mafia, Emilio, Selena, Johnny Hernandez, Laura Canales, David Lee Garza, Ram Herrera, and other showbands. But they went further and gave other smaller-name bands a shot. With it came some new touring opportunities, cash, a lot of distribution, and some marketing that these groups had pretty much done on their own previous to this boon.

Some would argue, though, that perhaps there was a lot of saturation of the market, too. While the biggies had paid their dues, some of the younger bands perhaps were still working on perfecting their talents. Still, after the death of Selena, it seemed the market waned, then the Gringos and “non-Tejano” execs who had squeezed every profitable penny out of the industry declared it dead, thus, big radio stations like Houston’s KQQK went away or changed genres. The big money people weren’t giving Tejano music a shot anymore because it wasn’t profitable for them. The musicians still had a talent to show off, and they still had to make a living. For the fans, the thirst was still there–for the music, for the culture. And as Jumpin’ Jess states, none of these bands left, the tours continued, though, with their own management. The big record companies kept a few big names, but their heart wasn’t in the marketing anymore. Even supergroups like Intocable went indie and managed themselves.

Nowadays, you see the big names like David Lee Garza and Joe Posada running their own independent recording companies. The tried and true Freddie Records, owned by the legendary Freddie Martinez, is still around, too, and with a stellar line-up of bands. No, the music and the culture never died. It’s the cash infusion and big media marketing that died out. I guess that’s what happens when you allow big money interests to basically buy your culture without some stipulation that it preserve it somehow.

Yes, I remember that 90s heyday. I remember well when El Grupo Mazz recorded their live album before 9,000 fans at San Antonio’s Rosedale Park–I was there! But I also remember this past Spring and the 6,000 fans at the Humble Civic Arena. And hell, I also remember the sell-out crowds at Miller Outdoor Theater every year for Festival Chicano. Yes, you still have those small nightclub crowds, and some bands still run risks between charging a percentage of the door or a set fee. But the touring continues. All one has to do is search them on Facebook, how in touch they are with their fans, to know that, while they are trying to make a living, they are still in it for the music and the culture. And to hell with the big money interests! These bands and the fans are owning their music.

No, the genre is not dead. Technological advances in recording, the ability to self-distribute and upload music to iTunes, and a strong surge in online Tejano stations help, too. And Arenas’ report about a home appraiser who wants to make sure the next generation keeps the music and culture going by running a school for Tejano music is just one story of many that is occurring at the moment. Thanks to the Texas Folklife Resources, we have the Big Squeeze Competition for squeezebox playing kids to compete for cash and recording contracts. Thanks to Juan Tejeda and the Tejano-Conjunto Festival in San Antonio, there is an outlet for this music for all ages.

No doubt, there will always be profiteers. If it happens on Wall Street, it will happen in ballrooms and nightclubs, too. But La Onda is very much alive, and given all of these advances, quite savvy, too. Will it be another 90s heyday? Who cares? It is our music, and as long as we retain ownership of our culture, it will continue to live and prosper.