|Lazaro Perez y su conjunto with his "Conjunto of the Year" award.|
This part Sunday night, the South Texas Conjunto Association hosted their 16th Annual "Conjunto of the Year" Award Show at the KC Hall in Mercedes. This event has recognized the very best of conjunto music from the Valley and beyond since 1999. The first "Conjunto of the Year" recipient was Gilberto Perez y Sus Compadres.
A display near the entrance was set up by Roy Rodriguez and his Hub City Conjunto & Tejano Museum from Pharr. Vintage photographs of legendary musicians like Laura Canales were posted there for attendees to enjoy.
Before the prizes were handed out, four individuals were honored with a lifetime achievement award. Those four honorees were Linda Escobar, Salvador "El Pavo" Garcia, Juan Del Toro, and June P. Garcia. Escobar's big announcement during her speech was that she would be celebrating her 50 years in conjunto music next month in Robstown, TX.
STCA president Lupe Saenz sat at a table in front of the stage, directing the ceremony in front of a monitor. Different musicians performed up on stage in-between the award announcements. La gente got up and danced as soon as the music hit the speakers. A charismatic man in a yellow zoot suit stood out the most to me.
The early winners were Super Tejano 102.1 for "Radio Station of the Year", Tornado y Conjunto Los Vengadorez for "Upcoming Conjunto of the Year", "No Pienso Despertar" by Los Badd Boyz Del Valle for "Song of the Year", and Un Jardin De Rosas by Los D Boyz for "Album of the Year".
The next two were for "Female Vocalist of the Year" and "Male Vocalist of the Year". The fans selected Tejano Roze of La Nueva Sensacion and Marky Lee Riojas of The Hometown Boys for those two honors.
I talked to Riojas after his big moment.
"I get real excited on stage but this took the cake," Riojas said. "(I want to) thank all the Hometown Boys cause they back me up 200 percent, all the beautiful fans, my family, and especially my wife Paloma."
The next four categories represented the key components of the conjunto — Bernardo "Bernie" Martinez Jr. of Bernardo y Sus Compadres won for "Drummer of the Year", Sergio "Checko" Gonzalez of Ricardo Guzman Jr. y Los Tres Aces won for "Bass Player of the Year", Jerry Flores of Lazaro Perez y Su Conjunto won for "Bajo Player of the Year", and Victor Tejeda of Santos Sosa Y Sus Estrellas won for "Accordionist of the Year".
Before the final category was announced, a raffle was held for an accordion that was donated by Hermes Music. The winner was none other than accordionist Lazaro Perez. This was his second trip to podium, as he had walked there previously to accept the "Bajo Player of the Year" plaque on the behalf of his absent bandmate.
The night wasn't over for Perez just yet. Right before he was set to perform, the announcement was made that Lazaro Perez y Su Conjunto had won the "Conjunto of the Year" award.
"It feels really great," Perez told me after the event was over. "It just goes to show hard work does pay off. That's life. It goes with anything in life, you work hard, good things happen. Everyone dreams about getting this award, and I'm glad it finally happened."