Thursday, April 13, 2017


By Juan Montoya
"La Culrura Vive en Brownsville" is the slogan of the first annual South Texas High School Conjunto Festival to be held at the Texas Southmost College's Jacob Brown Auditorium this Saturday at 5 p.m.

And the sponsors – TSC, the City of Brownsville, and Mike Hernandez's Op 10.33 – hope it will kick off a tradition that will make the yearly festival a clearinghouse for talent from here to San Antonio and beyond. The festival/competition begins at 5 p.m. and is free to the public.

 The competition, open to all high school conjuntos in South Texas, will be judged by a panel of well-known conjunto aficionados and musicians themselves.

They are Santiago Castillo, Maria de Luz Gonzalez, Hector Gonzales, Luis Cadena, Jr., and Manuel Maldonado, Jr.

There is already a move underway to petition the UIL to make conjunto competitions – and accordion playing – a UIL competitive sport. According to a OP 10.33 spokesman, that organization is planning to fund and adopt the festival as a way to nurture young talent and provide a forum for their music. 

Conjuntos have been around since the time of Narciso Martinez, given the nickname "El Huracan del Valle" put together a group (conjunto) made up of musicians playing the accordion, bajo sexto and tololoche. Martinez learned how to play the one-row diatonic accordion from the local German and Czech families around Bastrop, Texas.

Conjunto music is a native music of South Texas. Martinez and his conjunto began playing local dances and festivals around Brtownsvile and Raymondville when local merchant and furniture store owner, Enrique Valentin, heard them and persuaded recording director, Eli Oberstein to record them for the BlueBird label.

His biographers write that the new sound soon established itself as Texas-Mexican Conjunto Music. However, in the late 1930s, Martinez spun his music into Cajun and polka, issuing records under the pseudonym "Louisiana Pete" and "Polish Joe."
 In the 1950s, he joined other Mexican-Americans on the Tejano dance hall circuit, touring areas of New Mexico, Arizona and California.


Anonymous said...

Conjunto music, like weed, keeps Mexicans down!

Anonymous said...

that kind of music did not help the culture. Simplistic and not representative.

Anonymous said...

Idiots, Conjunto Music is as culturally relevant as Blues, Jazz and Rock. Tejano grassroots culture embraces Mexican culture; if one can't appreciate that he/she should ask the question, "What's wrong with me?" Etnocentricity doesn't exist in in this, or any, art form. The art form is expression of culture it is a performing art that touches hearts, minds and souls of hard working and loving people. Don't like it?, that's OK, plenty do. Change your channel, station or live venue and shut the Hell up.

Anonymous said...

Instead of implementing good music programs like a symphonic orchestra, they choose this low level music that most of the time, glorifies drug dealers. Pathetic way to call talent.