San Anto cred pop quiz! Name the city's greatest non-NBA export.
If your answer was anything other than tejano or conjunto, you're wrong. Since the waning days of the 19th century, the Alamo City has been at the forefront of this Tex-Mex genre. And since 1981, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center's Tejano Conjunto Festival has been a great champion of this cultural exchange, throwing a wickedly fun festival honoring the squeezebox feel.
'We've always been one of the important musical centers for the Mexican-American people," said Juan Tejada, director of the festival. "And conjunto music is an American original ensemble and style of music akin to jazz or country or cajun or zydeco. An original American musical artform that we as tejanos created here as part of the border culture, the synthesis of people and cultures coming together."
In its 34th year (and the first under brand-new Guadalupe executive director Jerry Ruiz), the Tejano Conjunto Festival is an expert curation of the artform, focusing on important movements within the music. Friday night tips off the bulk of the festival, with the Hijos de la Leyendas theme featuring the sons of the legends. Artists including Los D Boys (sons of accordion stylist Tony De La Rosa) and Río Jordán (son of eye-patched legend Esteban "Steve" Jordán) will explore and interpret songs of their fathers.
On Saturday, it's Hecho en Texas theme, with artists from all over the state taking the stage. Notables include Edinburg's Los Dos Gilbertos, Edcouch's Rubén De la Cruz and Dallas' Los Morales Boys.
Sunday honors women in conjunto, with an all-female lineup dedicated to women not named named Selena holding it down. Even a solid fan of the music might only be familiar with San Anto legend Eva Ybarra (4:30pm), so it's nice to see Grupo Imagen and Tejano Rose get some shine on center stage.
Sunday night marks a citywide sigh of relief and joy — the return of the legend of legends, Flaco Jiménez. After winning a lifetime Grammy in February and breaking his hip two days before his 76th birthday in March, the accordionist is off the DL and ready to do his thing again. We can't wait.
Wednesday, May 13
Guadalupe Theatre (723 S. Brazos)
Free Seniors Conjunto Dance
Thursday, May 14
Free screening of This Ain't No Mouse Music! followed by a Q&A with Arhoolie founder Chris Strachwitz, Flaco Jiménez, Santiago Jiménez Jr. and producer/directors Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon.
Friday, May 15
Rosedale Park (340 Dartmouth)
$15 entry for the Hijos de la Leyendas (Sons of the Legends) concert, featuring Los D Boys, Río Jordán, Juanito Castillo, Ricky Naranjo and more.
Saturday, May 16
$15 entry for the Hecho en Tejas day, featuring Kinto Ray, Lázaro Pérez, Boni Mauricio y Los Máximos, Los Dos Gilbertos and more.
Sunday, May 16
12 entry for the Women in Conjunto showcase, featuring Eva Ybarra, Linda Escobar, Tejano Rose and more. Flaco Jiménez will close the festival with a 10pm performance.
Tickets available at guadalupeculturalarts.org or (210) 271-3151.
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