Special to the Parade
Dubbed the “show of a lifetime,” the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center (NMCAC) has announced the lineup for the 20th Annual Conjunto Festival, scheduled for Oct. 21-23.
This three-day event is a one of a kind festival in the country attracting over 3,500 people for a celebration of live Conjunto music in the birthplace of the genre, San Benito.
The event will be held outside the center, located on 225 E. Stenger St. in San Benito on Friday, from 6:45-11 p.m., Saturday, from 4-11 p.m. and Sunday from 4-9:45 p.m.
This year’s theme celebrates the women of Conjunto and will feature 7 Conjuntos where women played an integral role. They include Mickey Mendoza of Mickey y Los Carnales from Houston; Eva Ybarra, who is considered the best accordionist in Conjunto music from San Antonio; Linda Escobar, daughter of pioneering musician Eligio Escobar and the lead singer of Linda Escobar y Su Conjunto from Alice; and Conjunto Clemencia from Austin will feature Clemencia Zapata on drums and Susan Torres on accordion. Clemencia Zapata is also the drummer for Conjunto Atzlan from San Antonio and Austin.
Also featured will be veteran conjunto musicians Chano Cadena y Su Conjunto featuring Ruby Franco from Alice and Eddie “Lalo” Torres featuring Anita Paiz from San Antonio.
Finally, a student recital of female accordionists from the center, under the mentorship of instructor Juan Lugo, will perform.
The festival cannot move on without the Rio Grande Valley pioneering musicians Ramiro Cavazos of Los Doneños and Gilberto Perez y Sus Compadres. Lazaro Perez y Su Conjunto will accent the festival with the conjunto style of Kingsville.
“We will dedicate this festival to our fallen Conjunto pioneers. In 2011 we lost Cha Cha Jimenez, Benny Layton, Joe Ramos, Ramiro “Snowball” de la Cruz, and Javier Villanueva founding member of Tejano ROOTS Hall of Fame and Museum in Alice, Texas,” an NMCAC press release read.
As always, the festival consists of three days of music and dance, not to mention food, beverages and authentic South Texas hospitality.
Editor’s Note: The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center preserves, promotes and develops the rich cultural heritage of the “Mexicano” community through programs in the visual arts, music, theater, dance and literature.