Conjunto music is at least 120 years old, according to historians, growing out of the Rio Grande Valley and celebrating ties between Mexico and its northern neighbor.
The word itself suggest a joining or coming together, appropriate for a musical genre that fuses multiple cultural traditions. The accordion is its central sound, its rhythmic beats are reminiscent of German polkas, and its danceability is palpable.
This Saturday, several conjunto legends – young and old – will perform for Conjunto 300: Celebrating San Antonio’s Conjunto Tradition, a special Tricentennial-year event at La Villita.
Flaco Jimenez, Bene Medina, and Lorenzo Martinez will all be on hand to showcase San Antonio’s deep Conjunto tradition with live performances. Medina and Martinez teach accordion at the Conjunto Heritage Taller, sponsor of the Conjunto 300 event. Students of the Taller – Spanish for “workshop” – will also perform.
Appropriate for the Tricentennial year, Conjunto 300 will dip into history, with a video presentation of 300 significant figures of the genre and vintage photographs by San Antonio photographer Al Rendon. Rendon documented the early days of the iconic Tejano Conjunto Festival, put on each year since 1982 by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
Theater artist Nicolas Valdez will present a special performance of Conjunto Blues, his one-person imaginative tour de force that chronicles the development of the genre, told through costumes, poetry, live music, and documentary footage.
Adela Flores, executive director of Conjunto Heritage Taller, said in a news release that Conjunto 300 will showcase San Antonio’s “diversity, inclusiveness, and authenticity,” and that the music itself is a “melding of the cultural artistic traditions of several ethnic groups that settled our City.”
Conjunto 300: Celebrating San Antonio’s Conjunto Tradition will take place from 5-11 p.m. Saturday in Maverick Plaza and is free for all ages.