A Tejano pioneer makes a cable comeback
Back when Tejano music ruled the airwaves, fans packed the clubs and dancehalls on weekends to see their favorite artists perform live, then went home and watched their performances and videos on television. As the scene sharply declined at the tail end of the '90s, the myriad venues, events, and programs followed suit, shuttering their doors, reducing their scope, or going off the air. While the industry took a hit, this had the beneficial consequence of forcing the music to return to its roots.
In fact, save for the inevitable effects of aging, much of En Caliente's debut episode could have been taken from archival footage shot 10 or 20 years ago. The 30-minute episode featured Little Joe, noticeably older but sounding as good as ever in a live performance shot at Graham Central Station; videos from veteran artists like Los Dos Gilbertos; and an uncomfortable Jay Perez declining to comment on allegations surrounding his personal life.
Unfortunately, in this day and age of rapid-fire edits and MTV flash and dazzle, the laid-back production on this episode feels rough and dated as well. By the same token, En Caliente is no longer all Tejano. In addition to performances shot at Graham Central Station and Market Square, future episodes will take the viewer to Monterrey, Mexico to view some of the rising and established regional Mexican acts. Just as Texas-based audiences enjoy listening to groups like Bronco, Pesado, and the ever-popular Ramon Ayala, through En Caliente Hernandez hopes to expose regional favorites to our counterparts del otro lado. "The norteño groups crossed over," he says, acknowledging the blurring of already-fuzzy divisions in accordion-based music. Regardless of where they're listening, Tejano fans once again have a show to call their own. •