As a Brownsville native who has spent much of his life in the Rio Grande Valley, I can testify that the region has much to recommend it, but live music has never ranked near the top of that list (excluding the Valley's undisputed history with conjunto music). The only notable rock bands that ever visited the McAllen-Edinburg area (where I grew up) when I was a teenager were either yet-to-break (AC/DC) or way past their expiration date (Alice Cooper). If you were at your commercial peak, this was not a logical tour destination.
But, very quietly, the Valley has begun to assert itself as a market for live music. SA bands such as Girl in a Coma and Bombasta have established fan bases in McAllen and arena-level acts such as Aerosmith and Santana have recently performed in Hidalgo County.
This weekend, however, marks the Valley's biggest leap into the musical big leagues, with the South Padre International Music Festival, a three-day blowout including Robert Randolph & the Family Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jaguares, Plastilina Mosh, Robert Earl Keen, and a host of others.
SPIMF is the brainchild of Tim Hayden, an Austinite with Harlingen roots, who serves as president of GamePlan Marketing and Events. Hayden says the festival-friendly layout of South Padre played a key role in his decision to organize the event. "It's built for people to have multiple experiences in a day," Hayden says. "It's one big amusement park."
Hayden estimates that the festival will draw 10,000-15,000 people, adding that his goal is to reach 30,000-50,000 within three years.
The South Padre International Music Festival runs from Friday, November 2 to Sunday, November 4. Three-day and one-day tickets are still available, and can be purchased by calling GetTix at 1-866-433-8849. For more info, go to www.spimusicfest.com.