Saturday, October 3, 2015
The newest performance by SanAnto’s own cultural activist, Nicolas Valdez. By threading together performance poetry, live music and documentary footage, CONJUNTO BLUES explores the historical and social conditions that led to the development of Conjunto music as an expression of cultural resistance and liberation.
“We are all the products of great migrations,” proclaims Valdez. CONJUNTO BLUES follows the migration of the diatonic button accordion, first introduced to Texas by German settlers and appropriated by Xicano communities along the US/Mexico border that, combined with the 12-stringed bajo sexto, has become the heart and soul of Conjunto music. According to Juan Tejeda, founder of the Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio, Conjunto music is “an original American ensemble” that tells the story of the Mexican American working class.
By age 9, Valdez was learning from the legendary Valerio Longoria, Master Accordion Instructor at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s Xicano Music Program, the first of its kind in the United States and founded by Tejeda.
CONJUNTO BLUES made its World Premier in April of 2013 in Denver, Colorado through the support of Su Teatro and by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Performance Network.
They say evolution thrives where two worlds collide (i.e. where land meets the sea) and those on the “3rd Coast” (Gulf Coast) are all too familiar with cultural head-on collisions. Texas based musicians, Nick Gaitàn and Los Nahuatlatos, exemplify the cross-genre marriages that occur when the old school meets the new. With one foot embedded in Texas Roots and the other in unexplored musical territories, these bands don’t so much straddle the line as find the groove in between worlds. From Conjunto to Swamp Pop, Chicano Soul to Ska and Cumbia, this is the voice of a generation eagerly pushing the boundaries. “It’s the I-10 connection. From Houston to San Antonio and beyond,” says Nicolas Valdez, band leader of Los Nahuatlatos