Brown Sound News
There are many genres of music in Spanish and those not familiar with music in that language may not recognize the difference in sounds and tend to describe it as sounding “all the same.” However, it is not.
Tejano and conjunto music is quite different in sound compared to “salsa” music, for example. According to a Chris Strachwitz article from the Arhoolie Records archive at the University of Texas at Austin’s Benson Latin American Collection, “The roots of Tejano and Conjunto music are as widespread and diverse, and run as deep, as the traditions, cultures and people which gave them life.”
Tejano music has a lengthy history of recordings. As Strachwitz notes, Tejano music was produced on commercial records by the major labels beginning in the mid-1920s. There is some great history in his article about the availability and lack of recordings over the course of the Depression and World War II years and then how it later developed in South Texas. Strachwitz states he had an opportunity to purchase a large collection of music from IDEAL Records. “l felt obligated to buy these priceless artifacts of a vital and strong culture not my own, to preserve this wonderful music for future generations and rescue it from oblivion.”
In San Antonio, music writer Ramon Hernandez told the (now former) San Antonio Express News writer Hector Saldana in 2015 that he found himself becoming a collector of music artifacts in the mid-1980s. He cited handwritten sheet music by the late composer Juan Gaitan as a favorite of his collection and it grew from there into the Hispanic Entertainment Archives. The founder/ curator has an expansive collection of artifacts, memorabilia and sought-after collections on varied Latino celebrities and they are normally viewed by appointment only.
“Ramon Hernandez is a legendary figure himself,” said Wittliff Collections Director Dr. David Coleman. “He singlehandedly saved and preserved the legacy of so many iconic musicians. In the process, he built one of the signature music collections in America.”
The late Tejano Music icon Emilio Navaira was from San Antonio and attended Texas State University. He was the subject of a special exhibition at the Wittliff Collections last year after his death in 2016, and the guest curator was Ramon Hernandez. The exhibit displayed highlights of the entire career of the beloved music legend and was drawn from Hernandez’s extensive personal collection, as well as items loaned by courtesy of Emilio’s wife, Maru Navaira.
Hernandez described the musical artist’s legacy for the Witliff Collections exhibit last year.
“Emilio Navaira broke attendance records as a Tejano artist at livestock and rodeo shows,” Hernandez stated. “He filled arenas in Mexico, won coveted Grammy Awards and dominated the Tejano Music Awards for years. He continued his upward climb when he recorded country music and went on tour with fellow Texas State University alum George Strait and other top C&W artists.”
The Witliff Collections currently has many items from the famed musicologist’s archives in an exhibit titled “Legends of Tejano Music: Highlights From The Ramón Hernández Archives” and it will run until December 20 for the public to view with no admission fee.
The focus of the exhibit is on the rich history of Tejano music treasured artifacts that shows how Tejano music evolved from the early 1900s to present day through a series of hybrids, and how it continues to spin off into new genres. Visitors can view historic photographs, one-of-a-kind stage outfits, vintage concert posters, rare recordings, artifacts and instruments from legendary stars including Lydia Mendoza, Laura Canales, Freddy Fender, Little Joe Hernández, Sunny Ozuna, and Selena, among others.
On Sunday, Nov. 12, The Witliff Collections invites the public to attend a panel discussion and Q&A along with a reception from 2 – 4 p.m. There will be an artist’s discussion featuring Ramón Hernandez, Little Joe Hernandez, Sunny Ozuna and Shelly Lares, legendary artists featured in this exhibition. The discussion will be moderated by The Wittliff’s new Texas Music Collection curator, Hector Saldaña.
The Wittliff Collections also has a new photography exhibition, “IN HARMONY: Celebrating Music in Photographs,” and the gallery has over 90 photographs featuring musicians from small town streets to the grandest of stages, including several Tejano artists. The reception held in October for this exhibit was well attended by photographers, musicians and the founder of The Wittliff Collections, Austin screenwriter and photographer Bill Wittliff, and his wife Sally.
Exhibitions and events at the Texas State University Wittliff Collections are free and open to the public (unless noted). The Wittliff Collections are located on the seventh floor of the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University in San Marcos. Visitor information, including hours, directions and parking details, is available at thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu.
The Latin Dukes are working on their debut album. Based in Austin, the Latin Dukes play an eclectic blend of Latin music, drawing influences from Madrid to Habana and beyond. If you are interested in supporting their efforts, visit their GoFundMe page for details on how to contribute. Contributors will have access to special rewards and exclusive content as a gesture of gratitude. For more information on the group, visit their Facebook page.
Rick Fuentes and the Brown Express Band have released the new single and video for “Cumbia International – Don’t Stop the Party,” presented by Revolution Records and available via different sources. For more information on the band and music visit brownexpressmusic.com.
Ashley & the Boyz are looking for a well-rounded drummer for a Tejano/ Variety band. All who are interested will be invited to an audition/practice with the rest of the band. For more information on the auditions, text or call 512-363-2344 or find Ashley Borrero on Facebook.
Café Con Letras continues celebrating art for the art itself for over ten years and in this month’s edition, they will present the Latin American living legend Gabino Palomares in concert as he celebrates 45 years of his artistic career. He will sing his iconic songs and present his book “Cien Canciones de Amor y Patria” (Pluralia Ediciones), in which he compiles his extensive work. Palomares is one of the founders of the Mexican “Canto Nuevo” movement. The concert takes place at Blackerby Recital Hall, 1111 W. Anderson Lane, Saturday, Nov. 18. Doors at 7 p.m., concert at 7:30 p.m. Cover is $10 (cash only). For more information on this cultural group, visit alianzacultural.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esquina Tango Austin is host to “Viernes Sociales” (Social Fridays) the first Friday of every month. DJ Fabian Cuero plays Salsa, Bachata and more. Bachata (all level) class is taught by Sidney Joseph Jr. from 9 -10 p.m. Cover is $15 class and social or $10 social only. Also, Latin Night with “Ivan Garcia y su Son Cubano” will be offered on Saturday, Nov. 18, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. esquinatangoaustin.com.
It’s Tequila Thursday each week with Mariachi Guadalajara from 7 – 9 p.m. Enjoy some amazing mariachi music while dining and you can request your favorite song. Stop by for a good time. Los Chilaquiles, 200 S Bell Blvd., Cedar Park.