Friday, December 26, 2014

A Look Back at 2014

Diana De Hoyos . Photo by Elisa De Hoyos.
 As one of the founding members of the Texas Sweethearts, Diana De Hoyos had a great year, full of all types of musical highlights. As a fan, she saw it as a great year of live metal music.

"I saw several metal acts such as Carcass, Origin, Morbid Angel, Pig Destroyer, D.R.I and more," De Hoyos said. "What amazes me about these bands is they have been around for decades yet it does not affect their performance."

Her metal music highlight goes was seeing Dead Horse at Harlingen in May.

"It was an amazing show," De Hoyos said. "There wasn't a huge crowd but the people that were there were obvious Dead Horse fans who sang every lyric to all their songs."

Another great moment for her was performing at the 33rd annual Tejano Conjunto Festival at San Antonio in May, and seeing the Texas Tornados there live.

"It was an amazing experience because of how much Texas Tornados are a part of my life," De Hoyos said. "I grew up on them, listening to my parents sing and play their songs. Now that I'm in a band, our favorite songs to cover are Texas Tornado songs like 'Who Were You Thinking Of' and 'Mentiras'.  So I went from listening to their music as a child to playing their songs in our band to seeing them live."

De Hoyos says that that same day, her and her sister Elisa met Flaco Jimenez.

I asked her what plans she had for 2015.

"Next year I hope to try and make it out to more non-metal shows," De Hoyos said. "I like all kinds of music but I mostly attend metal shows which I would like to change."

She is also part of an instrumental rock band named Verena Serene. She says the band has a lot of new material that will most likely be released in 2015.

Lupe Saenz at the Conjunto of the Year award show.

I caught up with South Texas Conjunto Association president Lupe Saenz, and asked him what were some of his favorite conjunto-related moments of the year. One of them was Lazaro Perez y su conjunto winning at the 16th annual Conjunto of the Year award show at Mercedes in June.

"A young conjunto who is having a big impact on the genre," Saenz said of that group.

Other events that he praised include the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Conjunto Festival at San Benito in October, and the "Mi Vida, Mi Musica" Pepe Maldonado recognition event that was held recently at La Lomita Park in November.

What does Saenz have planned for 2015?

"We, of course, are looking to the return of most of these events again this year and hopefully a conjunto radio station in the Valley," Saenz said. "We also are hoping to bring back another conjunto music television show like the 'Acordeones de Tejas' TV show we had on KMBH-TV."

Cristina Balli at the NMCAC Conjunto Festival.
Texas Folklife Executive Director Cristina Balli had another year that was full of major events throughout the Lone Star State. The annual "Big Squeeze" statewide accordion contest was now divided into three different categories — Polka (German, Czech and Polish music), Zydeco (Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music) and Conjunto (Norteño, Tejano and Conjunto music).

"It was our biggest yet, each year it keeps growing," Balli said. "In 2014, we had 55 kids, and of those 55, 25 were from the Valley. This contest is dominated by conjunto, so we really wanted to make sure that we had more participation and that we highlighted other genres."

The "Big Squeeze" Finals at Austin in April delivered in a different way, from past years.

"It was nice because we had diversity," Balli said. "The 'Big Squeeze' had been great, but it was all conjunto. It was really nice seeing young people playing the polka music, and then to hear the zydeco music. It is true that diversity makes our lives richer, and it was a much richer experience hearing all these genres of music instead of just one. As much as I love conjunto because that's my thing, I think people enjoyed themselves more."

Other major events that Balli and Texas Folklife were involved in were the 25th annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Houston in June, Texas Folklife's 30th Anniversary Celebration at Austin in September, and the inaugural "Festival of Texas Fiddling" at Blanco in December. Also in December, Texas Folklife released a CD titled Traditional Music of Texas, Volume 1: Fiddle Recordings from the Texas Folklife Archives.

"We ended the year with a bang," Balli said of that fiddle festival. "It was a lot of fun. The concept again was to present all the different genres of music in Texas that include the fiddle."

Outside of Texas Folklife, Balli returned to the Rio Grande Valley to MC Day 3 of the NMCAC Conjunto Festival.

Just like we saw changes in 2014, we'll be seeing something new at the 2015 "Big Squeeze" Showcases here in the Valley.

"We are doing live judging," Balli said. "So we'll get the top three, right then and there. It's going to give it a little more excitement."

The 2015 "Big Squeeze" Showcases in the Valley will take place at La Joya High School on February 7, and Los Fresnos High School on date that has yet to be finalized.

1 comment:

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