Where did Tejano’s music go?

By | September 23, 2022

My household travels typically to the northern a part of Mexico. We go to kin, eat an excessive amount of, spend a number of pesos and dread the day of departure. Our unhappy return house is at all times accompanied initially by Tejano music, my father’s favourite jam. On the radio we hear Grupo Mazz, Little Joe, The Mafia, Jay Perez and Selena. However it by no means fails that the nearer we get to Dallas, the extra Tejano music begins to get static. Lastly, we cross an invisible line and silence falls.

I’ve at all times questioned why cities in southern Texas appear to have a number of prepare stations whereas Dallas does not? The place did all of the Tejano music go?

“We should be extra Mexican than Mexicans and extra American than Individuals, each on the identical time. It is exhausting,” says Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla within the 1997 biopic. Selena. This line sums up what many generations of immigrants face. It’s a balancing act the place your citizenship and your tradition are sometimes divided however should be recognizable on each side. Tejano music unifies the 2.

Olmos’ line resonates with Mauri “Imply Mauri” Reynoso, who was a DJ for Dallas Tejano music station KHCK “Kick” FM from 1996 to 2004. He is a first-generation immigrant, and he remembers what c was to be Mexican. American who grew up in West Dallas at a time when being labeled Chicano was not a matter of delight. Discovering refuge in Tejano music meant lots.

Tejano music is a mix that personifies the Mexican American individuals.

“It is our music,” he says. “You Can Relate To It” Mixing the Spanish language, nation dancing, trendy synth keyboards, jazzy saxophone components and German and Czech accordion influences, it is the proper mixture of what our mother and father used to take heed to in Mexico and what we grew up listening to in the US. It’s a mixture that personifies the Mexican American individuals. And it flourished in Dallas, the place dance golf equipment, radio and touring Tejano artists had been all a part of the scene.

So the place did he go, and why did he go away? Properly, for starters, when KHCK was offered to Univision in 2004, programming shifted to largely regional Mexican music. However for Reynoso, that wasn’t precisely the top. He theorizes {that a} decline was inevitable, as Tejano music was stereotyped as one thing we simply listened to in Texas. He was walled off, refusing to share the stage. “I do not assume anybody considered how we must always evolve,” he says.

Ralph Thompson operates the one Tejano music nightclub in Dallas. He has run New West since 1995 and has labored within the leisure business for over 40 years. He jokes that in the first place it was somewhat intimidating being a white man working a Tejano music membership, however he at all times remained optimistic, encouraging Tejano music in one of the simplest ways potential.

New West has the texture of a honky-tonk. There’s an enormous pair of cowboy boots outdoors, and the within options wood-paneled partitions and a hardwood dance ground. On the wall of the primary entrance, there are some recognizable faces on the framed pictures but in addition some much less acquainted ones.

“David Lee Garza, Gary Hobbs, Ruben Ramos, Emilio Navaira, Jay Perez, Jaime Y Los Chamacos,” Thompson recites, pointing to them one after the other. There is a very younger lady on the wall that I do not acknowledge. “Jennifer Peña, she was solely 15 or 16 when she first got here,” Thompson says. Peña is a three-time Grammy nominee, together with one for Greatest Tejano Efficiency. The pale {photograph} is giving me some severe FOMO.

New West hosts a Tejano music act virtually each Friday. Typically the Tejano performer is paired with a Norteño, conjunto, or cumbia performer. “I believe I could make it work with out offending anybody,” says Thompson, accepting the market modifications and the fragile steadiness required when introducing a mixture of outdated and new generations of music.

It was clear that I used to be incorrect. Tejano music continues to be current in Dallas. However I needed to know extra. “It is best to simply interview Johnny Canales,” my dad recommended casually. How accessible did my mother and father assume he was? On The Johnny Canales Present, which debuted in 1983, Canales would inform his visitor artists “You bought it—take it away!” He’s typically known as the Dick Clark of the Hispanic group and was just like the godfather of Tejano music, credited with introducing rising stars together with Selena Quintanilla herself. The present, initially filmed and broadcast regionally in Corpus Christi, was picked up by Univision in 1988 and aired internationally.

Though he was born in Mexico, Canales moved to Robstown, Texas when he was simply over a month outdated. His tv profession embraced his “Texi-can” expertise. It was not unusual to listen to him communicate English and Spanish on his present, and he typically introduced in musical acts who had been extra from the Mexican aspect of the border. The results of his capacity to attach Tejanos to their Mexican roots, territory typically left untouched, was overwhelming assist from viewers. It turned a family identify, a reputation my father thought I might simply name.

A little analysis led me to his Fb web page. “Yeah, that is Johnny,” my dad confirmed once I confirmed him. So I texted Johnny Canales. I wanted the perception of a real advocate for Tejano music, somebody who understands the tradition behind it in addition to the music. I rewrote my message in Spanish; one thing advised me it could hit somewhat otherwise that manner. I prefer to assume that helped as a result of after two days I bought a response and we arrange a time to talk.

A retired musician, Canales has an eye fixed for expertise. After we spoke, he recalled among the pioneers of Tejano music within the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties, equivalent to Sunny and the Sunliners, Isidro Lopez and Flaco Jiménez. Earlier than them, from the Thirties, Tejano bands had been known as orchestras, enjoying on the recognition of the massive band period. Later, with the introduction of digital keyboards and synthesizers, the sounds of music turned common within the 80s and 90s.

The Johnny Canales Present resulted in 1996, however the former host’s ardour for music by no means waned. Canales and his spouse, Nora, started constructing a studio to proceed exploring the Tejano music scene, looking for donations by way of GoFundMe to realize this purpose. At the moment, they’re streaming on Fb Reside as The Johnny and Nora Canales Present. “Tejano music is a part of Tejanos life,” says Canales. “It is distinctive!”

And, all issues thought-about, it is actually not gone. Some radio stations will combine up a music or two, and New West at all times brings names I heard rising up. Though the system is somewhat completely different, the musical style is now not as remoted because it as soon as was and it’s now related to its Mexican roots. After we rejoice each, we find yourself with the incomparable expertise of at all times having one foot firmly on both aspect of the border. Tejano music retains enjoying – on the radio, within the membership, on Spotify playlists, on CDs. Or only a capella on a street journey, minus the accordions, courtesy of my dad.


This story initially appeared within the September challenge of Journal D. Write to [email protected].

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Aileen Jimenez

Aileen Jimenez

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Aileen is the Analysis Editor for Journal D and D House. Proud native of Dallas, she fortunately obtains the…