Sound and the Fury
Corazones y Accordeones
One of these days Mingo Saldívar is going to have to record a whole album of Johnny Cash tunes. Already known for his rollicking "rueda de fuega," Saldívar, toward the close of his Thursday night set at the annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, showed off a conjunto version of Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," using his accordion to not only play the melody but also approximate a mean train whistle.
Saldívar's opening-night performance at the festival turned into a jam-session/preview when Robert Casillas, SA's own accordion wunderkind, took to the stage, followed by an equally youthful cousin of Max Baca (of the Texmaniacs), both of whom laid down some serious squeezebox action. Also, Linda Escobar warmed up for her Saturday performance by joining Saldívar on his patriotically-drenched Lone Star anthem, "I Love My Freedom, I Love My Texas." The 68-year young Saldívar later told a group of aspiring musicians how inspiring it was to see youth - both male and female, he stressed - take up the tradición and ensure it will survive long after the genre's pioneers have passed on.
The already-downsized three-day Tejano Conjunto Festival was further thinned by Friday afternoon's stormy weather, which resulted in the cancellation of that evening's performances, but accordion fans willing to go from conjunto to Colombiana had no problems getting their cumbia fix at Celso Piña's appearance at the South Side dance club Noche Caliente that evening.
It took Piña two decades to become an overnight success, thanks to "Cumbia Sobre El Rio," his Y2K collaboration with Blanquito Man and Control Machete, yet he still maintains the same humilde aura about him which, one suspects, he's had since he started playing in Colonia la Campana, Monterrey years ago. Certainly, the dozen or so people who jumped onstage throughout his nearly two-hour set to dance, shake his hand or take pictures didn't faze him in the least. Security, on the other hand, spent so much time gently escorting these overzealous fans offstage that Piña could have hired them on as backup dancers for the night.
Aniceto Molina, another Colombiana legend, makes a hometown appearance at Ritmo Latino this Friday, May 14. •
Compiled by Alejandro Pérez