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Musica Tejana

The Tex-Mex Tradition

All things associated with Hispanic culture that are shared by the general population of Texas are fondly considered Tex-Mex. The pageantry and passion of old Mexico is still found in the folkloric dancers and mariachis that perform in Texas today. The jukebox and the Mexican restaurant created a confluence for popular culture in Texas.

Narciso Martinez's accordian recordings were sold in the Mexican-American community, and were successfully marketed to Germans and Czechs. Modern Tejano music is largely polka based. Popular Czech musician Joe Patek recorded Corrido Rock, combining a popular Mexican melody with Czech dance music. Some Western Swing acts performed lyrics in Spanish and included popular tunes like Cielito Lindo in their repertoire, while others incorporated romantic themes of old San Antonio in their songs.

San Antonio musician Flaco Jiménez, with his Spanish lyrics and Norteño/Polka influenced accordian music, achived a cross-cultural populaity that truly defines Tex-Mex. His later membership in the Rock-and-Roll/Tejano roadhouse act Texas Tornadoes, with the popular Hispanic Counrty Music vocalist Freddie Fender, profoundly influenced modern regional music.

Tejano singer Selena grabbed the attention of Texas and the region before she was tragically killed in 1995, when she was on the verge of reinventing her popular music with English lyrics. Ironically, as a child she only spoke English and learned Spanish early in her career to reach the Mexican-American market in Texas. She is credited with bringing the distinctively Texas music, Musica Tejana its highest level of exposure and popularity.

/Stay tuned, more to come.


Recommended reading:
The Texas-Mexican Conjuncto, by Manuel Peña, University of Texas Press
Lydia Mendoza: A Family Autobiography, Arte Publico Press

Recommended listening:
Borderlands: From Conjuncto to Chicken Scratch, Smithsonian Folkways
Taquachito Nights: Conjuncto Music from South Texas, Smithsonian Folkways
Flaco's First, by Flaco Jiménez with Los Caminantes, Arhoolie
Partners, by Flaco Jiménez, Reprise

Recommended viewing:
Chulas Fronteras, directed by Les Blank
Selena, directed by Gregory Nava

Get more information from: Institute of Texan Cultures

See these related sites: King's Road, Polka Time and Comida Tejana

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