The 22nd annual Tejano Conjunto Festival celebrates the international growth of South Texas music

"Flaco is like a God in Spain, so they've been really influenced by him," says Pilar Chapa, director of the Xicano Music Program at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and organizer of the upcoming

click to enlarge music_salgadoa_330jpg
Michael Salgado performs at the 2001 Tejano Conjunto Festival. Photo by Leland Outz.
22nd annual Tejano Conjunto Festival. "You can tell their music has just a bit of a European influence, but they're definitely Flaco fans."

It's not a stretch to say that the Tejano Conjunto Festival has become the Tex-Mex equivalent to New Orleans' Jazzfest or Helena, Arkansas' King Biscuit Blues Festival. It has grown from a modest, free-admission 1982 Market Square gathering into a full-blown mecca for international accordion fanatics, drawing nearly 30,000 people a year.

"About 40 percent of the people that go are from out of town or out of state," Chapa says. "We get calls from Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, California. There's even a group from Montana that comes down. They call in October or November, so they can know when to ask for vacation time."

Conjunto and Tejano are musical first cousins, genres bonded by shared roots, but separated by differing sensibilities. Conjunto is rural, traditional, folk music, featuring the spare lineup of accordion, bajo sexto, standup bass, and drums. Tejano is urban, contemporary, and tends to feature fuller instrumentation. Their relationship is like the one between bluegrass and modern country music, between country blues and city blues, or even between rockabilly and rock 'n' roll: It's the difference between a raw, underground musical form and one that's marketed to radio.

But for all of conjunto's respect for tradition (typified by Santiago Jimenez Jr., who honored his accordionist father with the song "Daddy's Polka"), the form has flourished because its giants have pushed the boundaries of the form.

One of those giants, Mingo Saldivar, was once stationed in the military near Nashville, and soaked up the influence of the Grand Ole Opry. As a result, he has made a name for himself by taking country standards like "Ring of Fire" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky," and transforming them into conjunto tunes.

Conjunto's most fearless innovator, Steve Jordan, has restlessly jumped from jazz to blues to soul to pop, always taking the accordion into harmonic territory that conjunto's forefathers never could have envisioned.

Jordan says he always sought to broaden his musical palette beyond the realm of conjunto. "I listened to all other

Wednesday, May 7 through Sunday, May 11
$20 opening night mixer
$7 daily price
$25 all-events pass
Rosedale Park
340 Dartmouth
kinds of music," he says. "You don't go to a steakhouse and order frijoles. 'Cause you eat frijoles every day. You want something different."

Jordan says over the last seven years he has concentrated on recording at his home studio, compiling an estimated 90 tracks that he plans to begin releasing on his own El Parche label by the end of the year. "It'll be something," he says of his forthcoming CD releases. "It'll be a spiritual thing, me entiendes? "

As much as anyone - with the possible exception of Flaco Jimenez - Jordan has been an ambassador for conjunto, taking it worldwide, with tours in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

"In America, you'll find all kinds of people, but in other places, it'll be all German people, or all Japanese people," Jordan says. "Around the world, they either love you more, or they boo you." •

San Antonio 2003
Rosedale Park
340 Dartmouth
$25 all events pass
$7 daily pass
Ladies free Thu 5/8

WED 5/7

Opening Night Mixer
Guadalupe Theater, 1301 Guadalupe
$20 adult, $18 senior, student
Reception — 6pm
Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Poster Contest Awards Presentation — 7:30pm
Tribute to Jose Alfredo Jimenez featuring Max Baca, Ruben Ramos, Jesse Borrego, Sandy Sanchez, Shelly Lares — 8pm

THU 5/8

Max Baca — 8pm
Shelly Lares — 7:15pm
Grupo Vida — 8:45pm
Michael Salgado — 10:30pm

FRI 5/9

Lost Amables — 6pm
Rams Guerrero y los Pioneers — 7:15pm
Los Fantasmas Del Valle — 8:45pm
Hometown Boys — 10:30pm

SAT 5/10

Sandy Sanchez y La Revancha — Noon
GCAC Accordion Student Recital — 1:10pm
X-Man y Presente — 2:10pm
Issac De Los Santos y Conjunto Cruuz — 3:10pm
Los Cuatro Vientos de Jimmy Bejarano — 4:20pm
Linda Escobar y su Conjunto — 5:30pm
Santiago Jimenez Jr. — 6:40pm
Mexican Trio feat. Joel Guzman, Max Baca, Sara Fox — 7:50pm
Mingo Salvidar y sus Tremendos Cuatro Espadas — 9pm

SUN 5/11

Juan Chapa y su Conjunto — Noon
Tejano Boys — 1:10pm
Eva Ybarra y su Conjunto — 2:20pm
Conjunto San Antonio — 3:40pm
Angel Flores y Los Alacranes — 4:50pm
Los Blazers — 6:10pm
Los Dos Gilbertos — 7:40pm
Flaco Jimenez — 9pm
Ruben Ramos and the Texas Revolution — 10:30pm



Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.