Conjunto Party

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend John Dyer's Conjunto book signing at the Alameda Theatre in San Antonio. The art moderne Alameda, which is now the National Center for Latino Arts & Culture is a piece of work unto itself. But the characters filling it were pieces of work too. I had to the good fortune to visit with John and Juan Tejeda, as well as some of the artists featured in the book, notably Nick (Nicky Snic) Villarreal who is reentering the recording arena after heart surgery (we're waiting for a follow up to "Not To Worry", Nicky), the maestro composer Salome Guitierrez who has more than 60 years in the music business under his belt--his Del Bravo record shop in SA is the best repository of recorded conjunto music anywhere, Jesus "Chucho" Perales, who backed up Ray Charles, Larry Williams and Richie Valens when he was a member of the storied Mando & The Chili Peppers, and Rodolfo Lopez, who teaches bajo sexto at the Conjunto Heritage Taller in San Antonio alongside Bene Mendina and Chucho Perales. Rodolfo has persuaded me to come down and take some group lessons at the taller, which is turning out a whole new generation of conjunto players, guaranteeing the tradition not only survives, but thrives.

John Dyer's photograph of Santiago Jimenez, Jr. adorns the cover of the latest issue of the Texas Observer with a feature article on the music and the book inside. Joe Nick says check it out.

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