It took them 30 years, but they did it: at least for one night, Flaco Jiménez and Santiago Jiménez Jr., two of the greatest living legends of conjunto, officially ended their long on-and-off feud with a stirring performance at the 31st annual Tejano Conjunto Festival Sunday night at Rosedale Park.
The long-awaited reunion took place midway through Flaco's closing set at the festival. Backed by Max Baca on bajo sexto (in his third appearance of the night after his own set with Los Texmaniacs and another one backing Mingo Saldívar), David Jiménez (Flaco's son) on drums, and Rudy Calderón on bass, Flaco called his brother onstage.
"I don't think there's anybody in the world who can imitate our father better than Santiago," said Flaco in Spanish (he meant it as a compliment, I hope). The pair embraced and were relaxed throughout their four-song set that included Santiago Jiménez Sr.'s classics "Cada vez que cae la tarde," "Margarita," "Viva Seguin," and "Ay te dejo en San Antonio."
"This is a song that my father recorded and then Flaco recorded it again and won a Grammy with it," said Santiago Jr. in Spanish before "Ay the dejo en San Antonio." "Then I recorded it too and... well, I just recorded it."
In spite of a few monitor problems only noticeable to the musicians and even fewer cases of feedback, the band sounded solid and the brothers seemed comfortable with each other. Santiago Jr. played a more conventional style than that of his unpredictable brother, but just as skilled. Watching them side by side with their distinctive styles was a rare feast for the eyes and ears.
The younger and less famous (but equally respected) Jiménez brother then could hardly contain himself when he mentioned how much the reunion met for him. He was overcome by emotion and had to stop, as the crowd began yelling, "Cry, cry!" Then, getting himself together, he wished the whole Jiménez family well.
"I hope you all have a long, healthy life."
"It was amazing being out there," Max Baca told the Current on the phone a couple of hours after the show. He, along with festival director Juan Tejeda, had been instrumental in bringing the brothers together. "Even Flaco got a little teary-eyed out there. These guys are a legend in their own right and decided to put aside whatever differences they may have in order to honor their father, one of the early pioneers of conjunto music. I consider myself lucky to have been there."
If you were at Rosedale Park on Sunday night, you were too.
— Enrique Lopetegui