|Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers at the Tejano Conjunto Festival|
This past Sunday night, the South Texas Conjunto Association (STCA) presented their 18th annual "Conjunto of the Year" Award Show at the KC Hall in Mercedes.
The MC once again for the occassion was Rick Garcia of Hacienda Records. A special presentation was held for the late accordionist Gilberto Garcia, of Los Dos Gilbertos, who passed away in September of 2015. The Garcia family was there on his behalf.
Gilberto Garcia wasn't the only legend honored that night. Gilberto Perez Sr., Efrain Solis, Cande Aguilar Sr., Roman Martinez, Ruben Garza, Temo Lopez and Tomas Vasquez all walked away with a "Lifetime Achievement" award.
First set of awards were for composers, radio stations, conjunto spots, and a special recognition. Oscar Soliz walked away with the composer crown, Super Tejano 102.1 was tabbed as the top radio station, Bossman's Night Club in San Antonio was picked as the top conjunto spot, and Conjunto Puro Corazon got a special recognition award.
As far as recordings go, honors were in order for "Single of the Year" and "Album of the Year", and "Ya Me Voy Para Siempre" by the Hometown Boys and "Lo Mejor y Mas" by Ruben de la Cruz y su conjunto took home both those prizes, respectively.
The next set of categories represented the key components of the conjunto ensemble — Los Badd Boyz del Valle won for "Conjunto Dueto of the Year", Oscar Anzaldua of Los Tejano Boys won for "Male Vocalist of the Year", Katie Lee Ledezman won for "Female Vocalist of the Year", Ruben Mendoza of Los Chamacos won for "Drummer of the Year", Bene Fonseca of Los Fantasmas del Valle won for "Bass Player of the Year", Max Baca of Los Texmaniacs won for "Bajo-sexto Player of the Year", and Steven Martinez of Hache 3 won for "Accordion Player of the Year".
"It felt great," Katie Lee Ledezma said. "I'm super happy to know how proud my supporters are that I got the female vocalist award. It means the world to me that they still have hope that one day I'll be the first female that brings conjunto music back into the charts. Something like this award gives me a boost to continue."
The title award of "Conjunto of the Year" was, as always, saved for last. After an energetic performance from Gilberto Perez Jr. y su conjunto, with Tapia on the accordion, Garcia went to the podium to announce that Los D Boyz were the "Conjunto of the Year".
Then there was only one award left, which was the "Conjunto of the Year" award. This year's best conjunto prize went to Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers, out of Alice, TX.
Ruben Naranjo III, the group's accordionist and vocalist, is especially proud of this accomplishment.
"We would like to take this time to thank God for always guiding us down the right path, the fans for voting for us and for being with us every step of the way, the radio stations that support our music and the South Texas Conjunto Association for all of their hard work and dedication to conjunto music. We are honored and humbled to be the 2016 STCA Conjunto of The Year."
Samantha Perales, a longtime attendee of these annual extravaganzas, shared her favorite moments with us.
"My favorite moments from the event were the arrival of the special guests, musicians, and friends," Perales said. "Also the excitement of seeing so many conjunto legends all in one place, such as Gilberto Perez, Chore Perez, Fruty Villarreal, Gilberto Lopez, Flavio Longoria."