|Gilberto Perez y su conjunto. Photo by Raul Robert Perez.|
As we are just three weeks into the new year, I wanted to share some of things I am most looking forward to in 2016. I feel that when the year is over, we will have a lot of great memories to look back on.
One of the events I'm most looking forward to in 2016 is Texas Folklife's annual "Big Squeeze" showcase and playoffs. The statewide accordion contest for players under 21 is set to start sometime soon, so keep a look out for an announcement from the non-profit that is based out of Austin. The previous two years have seen 'Showcases', or auditions in another word, take place at La Joya High School in the month of February. Last year, Raul Resendez from La Joya High School and Josue Garcia of La Feria High School made it to the finals in Austin. Curious to see which young accordionists, from the deep talent pool that is found in the Rio Grande Valley, will stand out this year.
La Lomita Park in McAllen is now entering its 14th year in existence, and it's still one of the must go-to places in the Valley for authentic conjunto music. They started this year on January 3 with a great night of music, featuring Gilberto Perez Sr. y su conjunto, and it was awesome. They got a lot of top conjunto acts that regularly stop by, like the aforementioned Perez and Los Fantasmas del Valle, but I'm also looking forward to seeing what new acts will show up to the dance hall in 2016.
There are going to be a lot of major festivals this year, but the ones I'm most excited for are the 35th annual Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio, during May, and the 25th annual Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Conjunto Festival in San Benito, during October. I have never been to the San Antonio festival before, and am eager to go for the first time. I'm also excited about what the 25th installment of the San Benito festival will bring us later this year.
Not sure which artists will be releasing new albums this year, but am interested in seeing what gems pop out from those releases. Recently, Rio Jordan finally released Legendary Dynasty, which included ten tracks from them and ten never before released tracks from their legendary father, the late Esteban 'Steve' Jordan. I hope to see more unique releases along those lines, along with some traditional instrumental albums from some of the legends and established musicians of conjunto music.
More than anything, I'm interested in seeing what new conjuntos will pop up in the Valley, along with what direction and angle they plan to take conjunto music in. It's a form of music that can literally be taken to many different directions, and I hope to see some young musicians do something very special with it.