When Anochesca Guajardo left her downtown apartment Sunday evening to walk her dog, she didn’t expect to encounter a famed conjunto musician performing on Broadway street.

Guajardo reached the street level to see two men singing and playing the accordion and bajo sexto for a small, spread-out audience. Guajardo and her dog Lucy joined the group across the street, sitting on the sidewalk for a while to listen and watch.

“It was beautiful,” she said. “Really nice and uplifting.”

The accordion player was none other than Santiago Jiménez Jr., a Grammy-nominated musician who was playing with Virginio Castillo outside the 1221 Broadway Lofts at the request of Jiménez’s friend, David Stolarski.

About two dozen apartment occupants came out onto their balconies or down to the sidewalk to watch the men perform favorites such as Margarita, Margarita and You are My Sunshine.

Stolarski, a resident of the lofts, said he put the concert together hoping to cheer people up. He added he was happy to see so many residents out on their balconies listening to the performance. 

With audience members following social distancing practices and some even wearing masks, Stolarski said no one violated the City of San Antonio’s Stay Home, Work Safe order. Jiménez and Castillo performed half the concert in the empty parking lot at 12th Street and Broadway Street, and the other half on a road between two of the complex’s buildings. 

“We were happy with the turnout,” Stolarski said. “The second part [between the buildings] ended up being even better – the acoustics were really good and [Jiménez] was able to interact with the audience more.”

With all his spring performances canceled, Jiménez said he felt happy to perform live music again.

“I think if I quit playing, I’d die,” said the 76-year-old Jiménez. “As long as people are happy to hear me, I’m happy to play.”

Jiménez, who was awarded a National Medal of Arts in 2015, said the concert was different than anything he’d ever done and that sharing his music felt good.

As a lifelong fan of Jiménez and his brother, Flaco Jiménez, Stacy Cantu-Pawlik said she’d been looking forward all week to the concert, which had been announced on the apartment complex’s Facebook page.

“I’m from a tiny community in the [Rio Grande] Valley, called La Sara, and it was a huge deal when [the Jiménez brothers] came down and performed for all of us 15 or 20 years ago,” Cantu-Pawlik said.

People staying at home also will be able to watch Flaco Jiménez perform as part of an online concert series on Facebook Live sponsored by health care network WellMed. Jiménez kicks off the WellMed Wednesdays series at 2 p.m. Wednesday on Facebook.com/Wellmed.

Isaias Aragon was riding his bike Sunday when he heard familiar accordion music. The Norteño music fan said he immediately did a U-turn and to find where the music was coming from.

“I grew up learning the accordion, and la guitarra and other Norteño instruments,” he said, adding that it was beautiful to see everyone on their balconies enjoying live music again.

Stolarski said the concert was meant to be a “relief effort” to give people a sense of normalcy.

“That’s what everyone needs these days,” he said.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the general assignment reporter for the San Antonio Report.