The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s annual Tejano Conjunto Festival (May 5-9 at Rosedale Park in West San Antonio) celebrates truly Texan sounds. From Thursday through Saturday, the event’s 28th incarnation features 20 groups performing earthy music in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that encourages dancing and provides ideal listening for diehard fans and neophytes alike.
Conjunto as a musical tradition arose in Texas from the cultural mishmash of German immigrant instrumentation (button accordion) and indigenous Mexican music (usually including the 12-string bajo sexto guitar).
Founding director Juan Tejeda says he’s programmed the best of conjunto’s old guard and most promising up-and-comers. This year’s performers include 10 musicians already in the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame playing alongside eight younger acts making their festival debuts.
The highlight undoubtedly will be the scheduled return of legendary Esteban “Steve” JordÃ¡n (pictured) after an absence of several years from the festival stage. Known as the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion in deference to his psychedelic flamboyance and over-the-top instrumental mastery, JordÃ¡n has been plagued by ill health, but with any luck he’ll be up for his don’t-miss Thursday night performance, preceded by a JordÃ¡n tribute from Joel Guzman and Sarah Fox.
Saturday’s music will culminate close to midnight with Mingo SaldÃvar y sus Tremendos Cuatro Espadas, best known for their front man’s dancing-cowboy moves and penchant for playing Johnny Cash tunes in Spanish.
A German squeeze box, a Mexican guitar, and “Ring of Fire”-that’s bound to be enough of a cross-cultural dance lesson for anyone’s weekend.