“Take the conjunto element out of Tejano music, and you end up with nothing,” Little Joe once told me. And he was absolutely right. Now, take the Tejano Conjunto Festival out of the music festival scene in San Antonio, and … well, San Anto wouldn’t be the same.
For the last 29 years, the TCF at the Guadalupe Theater and Rosedale Park has been the backbone of what’s unarguably our city’s richest musical tradition. But this year, from May 10-15, the 30th anniversary should be the biggest ever.
“I’m just beginning to work on it, but I have a clear vision of what I want to do,” festival founder Juan Tejeda told S&F. “I want to both honor the surviving heroes and the new generation.”
For starters, the festival will go back to a four-day (Sunday included) schedule of performances, but it is actually a six-day event — beginning with the usual Seniors Conjunto Dance and accordion/bajo sexto workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday, a gala for conjunto Hall of Famers Thursday at the Guadalupe, and all-day concerts Friday-Sunday at Rosedale Park. If everything goes right, expect to see people like Flaco Jiménez, Mingo Saldívar, Los Dos Gilbertos, Paulino Bernal, and others alongside the new generation led by Flavio Longoria and Esteban Jordan’s sons. “That’s my goal,” Tejeda said. “We’ll see if the dream comes true.”
Attention artists and graphic designers: Even though the music starts in May, your contribution could begin right now, with the poster. You have until 5 p.m. February 18 to turn in your design, which could be chosen as the official poster of the festival. But before you grab the pencil, please read the official rules and guidelines at guadalupeculturalarts.org/xicanomusic/tcfcontest.htm. For example, you’re not supposed to use faces of popular performers, due to copyright issues.
You couldn’t care less? OK, don’t bother. Let someone else get the $1,000 (yeah, a thousand bucks) for the first prize. The art will be judged in five categories (Junior High, High School, College, and Open, with the winner in each receiving $100, and $50 going to each honorable mention), but the very best poster gets the jackpot. I repeat: $1,000.
“This isn’t just another poster contest year,” Tejeda said. “This is our 30th anniversary. And the winning poster will be the official poster of the 30th Tejano Conjunto Festival. So get to work and be part of this historic event."