1. The Conjunto Hall of Fame Inductions
Six new members will be inducted at a “Dinner and Baile” as the 58 inductees of the last 29 years are also honored. This year’s batch includes: Román Martínez (The Hometown Boys), Santiago “Jimmy” Bejarano (Los Cuatro Vientos), George and Mague Orosco (Dueto Carta Blanca), Santiago Jiménez Jr. (Flaco’s brother), Richard “Güero Polkas” Dávila (KEDA Radio), and the late Bene Layton (Los Layton). Besides music from the new inductees, expect dynamite performances by past honorees like Mingo Saldívar, Oscar Hernández, Eva Ybarra, and many others. 6pm Thursday, Guadalupe Theater (1301 Guadalupe).
2. Juanito Castillo and Grupo Innovación
Whenever you ask anyone about the future of conjunto music, the name “Juanito” always comes up first. Blind from birth, this 22-year-old, hard-living prodigy was Esteban Jordan’s drummer for several years and plays 14 instruments. According to festival coordinator (and conjunto megamind) Juan Tejeda, Juanito “is the future of conjunto music … si se cuida (if he takes care of himself).” Accordion legend Mingo Saldívar agrees: “He does the Jordan style like no one.” Full disclosure: I’ve been working on a Juanito documentary since 2006. But he’s just too good to omit from this list. 6:30pm Friday at Rosedale Park (303 Dartmouth).
3. Jaime y Los Chamacos
One of the most popular conjunto acts out there, these San Antonians return to the TCF after many years. 9:30pm Friday, Rosedale Park.
4. Joel Guzmán
Many call themselves “progressive” conjunto artists, but when it comes to edge and innovation, things don’t get much better than Joel Guzmán. “Without a doubt, he’s one of the best we have,” says Tejeda. “He can play Colombian cumbia, blues, jazz, country, you name it.” Last time I saw Guzmán, he was rocking the International Accordion Festival — hard. 10:30pm Friday, Rosedale Park.
5. The Conjunto Jam
For the first time in the history of the festival, each night will conclude with a jam at Rosedale Park where accordion veterans will be symbolically passing the baton to a new generation of performers. If you want to know what’s in store for conjunto, don’t miss this. 11:30pm Friday and Saturday and 10:30pm Sunday, Rosedale Park.
6. Accordion tuning, maintenance, and repair workshop
Everything you need to know about how to take care of your instrument. Workshop taught by Tim Schofield, Hohner Accordion Repair and Parts supervisor. $40, 10am-noon Saturday at the Guadalupe Theater (1301 Guadalupe).
7. The very, very young
Students from the Guadalupe, the Conjunto Heritage Taller, Conjunto Palo Alto, and Palmview High School Conjunto La Tradición perform. This is a chance to see the newest generation who can actually read music. 1pm Saturday, Rosedale Park.
8. The Conjunto Kingz de Flavio Longoria
The son of the great Valerio Longoria (1924-2000), this master of the accordion continues his father’s style of original runs using the full register of the instrument. Like Juanito, Longoria is a multi-instrumentalist who started playing at an early age. 3pm Saturday, Rosedale Park.
9. Linda Escobar
One of the surviving queens of Tex-Mex, Escobar is still active after singing for four decades. 4pm Saturday, Rosedale Park.
10. Mingo Saldívar
Born in 1936, Saldívar is a fierce accordionist known as “the dancing cowboy,” and he still plays and dances the same way he did in 1959. “It’s very refreshing to see how, in the last 15 years, so many young people are playing accordion and bajo sexto,” Saldívar told the Current. “Many of them copy my style of playing, and some copy Max Baca’s bajo sexto style, but at the same time they have their own style. In this festival we’re going to see a lot of that, and I’m looking forward to it.” 10:20pm Saturday, Rosedale Park.
11. Eva Ybarra
Arguably the world’s best female accordionist. “Flaco, Steve Jordan, Mingo, Joel Guzmán are all known for creating an ‘individual’ accordion style, challenging tradition, but without losing the important musical references that define conjunto accordion style,” ethnomusicologist Cathy Ragland told the Current in an email. “But for some reason, when Eva does it she gets some criticism (mostly from other musicians, not fans) for being too ‘out there.’ I think part of the issue is that, as a woman, they think she should play more ‘straight’ and not challenge the boys.” Thank God, Ybarra keeps doing her thing regardless. That’s one more reason she’s so great. 3pm Sunday, Rosedale Park.
12. Los Texmaniacs and special guest
Max Baca’s Grammy-winning, power conjunto trio will play alongside Dutchman Dwayne Verheyden, a young conjunto prodigy that caught the conjunto bug from overseas and never looked back. And he’s only one of many converts to come, promises the festival’s coordinator. “`Conjunto` is an American music, but is also world music,” said Tejeda. “It’s our turn now, and within 20 years the world will be turned on to our music. You’ll see.” 6pm Sunday, Rosedale Park.
Check the full schedule at guadalupeculturalarts.org/tejanoconjunto.
Conjunto Hall of Fame dinner and baile
$65 for dinner; $100 for dinner and festival pass
6pm Thursday, May 12
Lo Mejor de Conjunto: La Tradición Continúa (The Best of Conjunto: the tradition continues)
6pm-12am Friday, May 13
1pm-12am Saturday, May 14
1pm-11pm Sunday, May 15
Rosedale Park, 340 Dartmouth
*$40 for three-day Park Events Pass