As the latino population increases all over the country, latin music festivals are on the rise as well. The lineups usually include a wide variety of genres from all latin cultures, from alt-rock and hip-hop to tribal and duranguense to samba, salsa, and jazz. For wide-ranging showcases like these, the question is, “Why not Tejano?”
The answer is usually that the organizers don’t know where to start or who to invite, or sometimes it doesn’t even occur to them to include Tejano or Conjunto. A contributing factor to this is that, many times, Tejano and Conjunto musicians are not networked with the latin music scene, not even in their own hometowns. The reasons vary, of course, but in times like these, expanding your network is essential.
A great example of a showcase that has made strides in reaching out to Tejano fans is Austin’s own annual Pachanga Latino Music Festival. Held at Fiesta Gardens last month, this year’s multi-faceted lineup included local conjunto Susan Torres y Conjunto Clemencia and the legendary Flaco Jimenez. Two other performers on the bill, Intocable and Celso Piña, can’t really be classified as Tejano, but definitely appeal to Tejano fans.
A couple weeks later, Pachanga staff Rich Garza and Stephanie Bergara participated in a panel discussion focused on Latin music in Austin, presented by the Austin Music Foundation. At this meeting, the Tejano community was well-represented, with artists, promoters, media and other supporters meeting with other colleagues in latin music, sharing information and finding solutions. It was a productive meeting and discussion that will hopefully lead to more collaboration and support.
In order for cross-genre collaboration to be successful and do what it is designed to do without confusing anyone, there is something to keep in mind: it only works at festivals and shows that feature various genres. That means that a festival focusing on Tejano probably shouldn’t include tribal. It also means that a latin hip-hop festival will likely not have David Lee Garza scheduled to play – in fact they would probably laugh if he called and asked to join the show. The inclusion usually only goes one way, just like all Mexicans are Latinos, but not all Latinos are Mexican.
Getting to know and be included in the latin music community can help identify new venues, new fans, new record companies, and new opportunities of all kinds. And it will remind everyone outside the genre that “Tejano Ain’t Dead.”