Friday, March 20, 2015

Five Historical Corridos of the Rio Grande Valley

One of the many reasons I fell in love with regional music was because of the local history it sometimes recounted in its verses. It went both ways as I also discovered many musicians and songs through looking for information about historical, or at times, infamous events in Rio Grande Valley history. These songs each explore different situations that have occurred here at la frontera.

These are five examples of local songs that illustrate events of past years.

-- "Tragedia En Matamoros" by Los Suspiros de Salamanca - This corrido narrates the tale of what Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo and Sara Aldrete did in the late 1980's near the border. The song points to those two as being the main people responsible for what occurred, which was ultimately reported to be at least 15 people killed and found at Rancho Santo Elena.

-- "Las Crescientes de Beulah" by Gilberto Perez - This starts off with some running water sounds, then immediately sets the date of September 19, 1967. It goes into the effects of Hurricane Beulah in South Texas and North Mexico. Perez specifically name drops various cities that were affected by this major hurricane. Perez concludes the song by saying that a tragedy like this makes him sad while he sings about it.

-- "Corrido de Pharr, Texas" by Rumel Fuentes - This powerful song brings to light accusations of police brutality in Pharr, corruption and the horrifying murder of Alfonso Loredo Flores on February 6, 1971, by deputy sheriff Robert Johnson. In a ABC news report titled Strangers in Their Own Land, it’s mentioned that eye witnesses saw Johnson aiming directly at Flores that evening. This tragic event has become know as the "Pharr Riot" to many in the Valley.

-- "La Marcha del Campesino" by Esteban Jordan - This song tells the story of the famous 420-mile march that was led by Antonio Orendain and the Texas Farm Workers Union. It started in San Juan and ended in Austin. The march launched off on February 26, 1977 and was completed on April 2, 1977. Whenever I want to introduce someone to this event, I usually start by showing them this song.

 -- "Rinches de Texas" by Dueto Reynosa - This was written by Willie Lopez, who used to host an old Valley AM radio show titled Chulas Fronteras. This piece covers a story in Starr County of Texas Rangers assaulting farm workers during a melon strike on June 1, 1967. The corrido is critical of then Texas governor John Connally, accusing him of being responsible for what happened that day.


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