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Amadeo Flores Galan Productions rock ‘n’ roll music in English and trying to fit into the larger culture. Now these kids are into conjunto and they’ve found a way to be true to their own culture and still be Americans.” In the film, older conjunto musicians like Amadeo Flores are pleased that the younger generation has taken an interest in the music. “We teach them and they teach us,” says Flores, of the new conjunto players. “In the old days we played, stopped then sang. Now they do everything all at once.” Refreshingly, Galan also focuses on the struggle of women pioneers in conjunta music. Eva Ibarra, now in her late ’50s, rips it up in an impromptu performance, as Hinojosa narrates the difficulties Ibarra faced when she was the only woman in a macho musical world. Ibarra started playing conjunto accordion at six; her father would book her in dancehalls around South Texas as a novelty act, As she grew older, however, she was often criticized for playing conjunto accordion, which was viewed as being strictly for men. The bars and nightclubs where she played were considered unseemly for a woman, but Ibarra ignored the naysayers and continued to make records and perform. Today she plays and tours with Hinojosa in the all-woman group, Las Super Tejanas, In Accordion Dreams, musicians Cecilia Saenz, 17, and Victoria Galvan, 15, show that attitudes have progressed greatly since Ibarra was their age, and that conjunto has finally opened up as a viable avenue for young women performers. Hector Galan is a San Angelo native who has deep roots in the Rio Grande Valley. For decades, he’s focused his lens on the Texas-Mexico border, The first film in his music documentary trilogy, Songs of the Homeland, which won the Top Juror Award at CineFestival in San Antonio in 1995, also focused on the border. Another documentary, The Forgotten Americans, which aired on PBS last fall, portrayed the plight of povertystricken families along the border. \(Accordion Dreams will also be picked up by PBS, and is slated to air in explain the importance of conjunto to people outside of the border region, says Galan,”People in Washington, D.C. and New York are like, ‘What’s conjunto?'” he says wryly. “It’s the cultural legacy of this region and a significant contribution to American musiceven if it is in Spanish.” At the Valley premier it was obvious that conjunto meant so much more to the audience. The event had an intimate family feel, and there were murmurs of recognition as black-and-white photos of musicians from yesteryear appeared on screen. Older audience members laughed at old dancehall photos and at the outfits and hairstyles that seemed hopelessly outdated. After the premier, several musicians featured in the film performed on La Villita’s stage the same stage where accordionist Amadeo Flores performed more than 50 years ago. “Back then the dancehall didn’t have a roof,” he recalled. “I remember one night it rained and everyone kept dancing; they didn’t care.” \(The roof was added in the late ’60s to make La Villita more comfortable for receptions and weddings, much to the dismay of Flores, who thinks it affects the quality of the For Jesse Turner, playing there at the Valley premier with some of the legends of conjunto music was an opportunity to pay homage to his heroes and to his father, a lifelong conjunto fan. But once again, Don Fernando seemed to be playing tricks. The night of the premier Turner had a bad cold and said he wouldn’t sing, But as he launched into his second song and couples began to hit the dance floor, he was carried away by the evening and changed his mind. “I couldn’t help it,” he later explained. “It’s an honor to be here.” Melissa Sattley is a reporter at The Monitor in McAllen. Flaco Jimenez, Roben Vela and other accordion wizards can also he heard at the Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio, May 9-13. 4/27/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19