Friday, July 12, 2013

Hub City Conjunto & Tejano Museum‏

Roy Rodriguez
The memories of the legends that built Tejano and conjunto music can be found in a museum in Pharr.

When the Hub City Conjunto & Tejano Museum first opened in 2011, it was located at the Pharr Events Center. After a brief hiatus, the museum re-opened in a new location earlier this year. Now located at 207 W. Newcombe Ave. in Pharr, any person interested in the historical roots of these genres is welcomed to stop by.

Roy Rodriguez, the museum curator, has spent his life in music. At 83-years-old, Rodriguez has worked with radio stations, concert promotions and music organizations all throughout the state of Texas.

Within its modest space, one will find hundreds of Tejano and conjunto recordings in various formats — 45's, LP's, 8-tracks, cassette tapes and CD's. Just going through these would take up most of your day. A large portion of these recordings came from Rodriguez' own personal collection that he amassed throughout the decades.

Musicians that are displayed prominently include Selena, Chano Cadena, Wally Gonzalez, Tony De La Rosa, Mel Villarreal, and Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz. When acknowledging the Selena section, Rodriguez goes, "of course, the queen."

While he pays tribute to all the well-known stars, with recordings and posters, he also likes to bring attention to the lesser known musicians. Rodriguez enjoys sharing his personal memories of all the musicians he's encountered in his long life. When I asked him about Bishop accordionist Lazaro Perez, he quickly lit up. He opened up a drawer in his desk and pulled out photographs of the young accordionist performing at the Tejano Conjunto Festival.

Rodriguez tells me he is excited about a drum-set that he will be receiving soon. That drum-set will join the other instruments in the museum: accordions, guitars, a bajo-sexto and a saxophone. Those were all donated to the museum by local musicians. While pointing at one of the instruments, Rodriguez informs me of its origins.

"(Juan Guerrero) gave me his bass," said Roy Rodriguez. "He came by (to look at the museum) and a week later he said here (you go)."

Guerrero is from the longtime Tejano act, Juan Guerrero y Los Sheekanos. That group has been back in the spotlight as of late, performing at the "Pharr Live" events — monthly Thursday night music events that take place at the Pharr City Hall. Rodriguez promotes these events with the City of Pharr.

"The City of Pharr has been real good to me," Rodriguez said, about their help in establishing this museum and the "Pharr Live" events. "I got a good thing going with them."

The next "Pharr Live" event is scheduled for July 18; Danny Gonzalez will be performing that evening.

When he's not listening to Tejano and conjunto music, he loves to listen to the blues. He tells me that he hopes to expose the people of Pharr to blues music in the future.

For now, his love with Tejano and conjunto music is what keeps him busy. While he has issues with his eyesight and walks around with a cane, Rodriguez is always eager to give anyone a personal tour of his museum. His voice grows with passion and emotion as he talks about the musicians that he grew up with. A lot of those musicians have passed away.

"They don't die, they keep going. Like Ruben Vela. I play his music here. And people [say], 'Who is that?' I show them his pictures and a lot of write-ups I have on him. Their life is still going cause their music is still going."

Hub City Conjunto & Tejano Museum is opened Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There is a $3 dollar donation per museum visit.

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