Monday, August 19, 2013

Texas 1992

Back in November, 1992, I was working as head of PR for Barclays retail bank and became involved in setting up the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, which is now one of the leading organisations in the UK helping people with multiple debt problems. It was based on a successful American operation based in Houston, and I went on a fact-finding trip to Texas with Malcolm Hurlston, who later became chairman of the CCCS. While we were there we took the opportunity of taking in some music in Austin and San Antonio and I was pleased to educate Malcolm on various kinds of Tex-Mex and Louisiana music, including zydeco, conjunto, tejano and mariachi. Here's an excerpt from my diary of the trip, plus a few photos.
'After a meeting in Washington earlier in the day Malcolm and I arrived in Austin late in the evening, having changed planes in Dallas. Despite it being around midnight by this time, I took a walk around 6th Street, which was packed with students and rowdy, with bars everywhere. Next morning I was up early and after a trip to Tower Records where I got a Texas Tornados CD I went on to a record shop on 38th Street where I got five LPs, including a UK issued Tyrone Davis album on Atlantic. Couldn't get a cab back so started walking, calling in at the Lyndon B Johnson museum near the State Capitol on the way. Eventually met up with Malcolm at Hut's, a very busy burger joint. Hired a car at the airport and went back to the hotel. Had a great evening in Austin: a Mexican meal at El Patio and then went across the road to Antone's music club to see Buckwheat Zydeco. A great club. After his set we went to the Cactus Cafe at the university to see Butch Hancock, who was excellent, as was the brilliant Jesse Guitar Taylor who played with him.
Next day set off for a leisurely drive south, stopping off at a flea market in New Braunfels in the heart of the German part of Texas. Lunched at a burger place (see photo of me there) which also offered half a pint of chicken gizzards. Not particularly tasty.
Drove on to San Antonio and walked along the river, with bars and restaurants all along the way, to the Alamo (see bottom photo, with Malcolm, front left), site of the famous battle in 1836, then checked in to the Hilton. In the evening I was determined to introduce Malcolm and his partner Linda to some Tex-Mex sounds, so after a good Mexican meal at Mi Tierra we went hunting for some conjunto music, eventually finding it at Zerma's, a run-down dance hall in Zarmaroza. I guess we were the only gringos in there and got a few strange looks as we sipped from our cans of beer but the band, Conjuntal Sabinal, was good. From there we went on to a place called Los Globas where there was a tejano band playing, followed by a five piece Mariachi band (see photo below) with two trumpeters Tijuana style and a female singer who was the Shirley Bassey of the barrio.
A memorable evening for all styles of Tex-Mex music. Next morning it was off for the long drive to Houston for the main point of the trip, the meeting with the Houston Consumer Credit Counselling Service.'

Here are some definitions (from Wikipedia):
Conjunto  literally translates as "group," and is regionally accepted in Texas as defining a genre of music (also known as Conjunto music) that was born out of south Texas at the end of the 19th Century, after German settlers introduced the button accordion. The bajo sexto has come to accompany the button accordion and is integral to the Conjunto sound.
Tejano music or Tex-Mex music (Texan-Mexican music) is the name given to various forms of folk and popular music originating among the Mexican-American populations of Central and Southern Texas. With roots in the late 19th century, it became a music genre with a wider audience in the late 20th century thanks to artists such as Selena, often referred to as "The Queen of Tejano", Alicia Villarreal, Elida Reyna, Elsa García, Laura Canales, La Mafia, Jay Perez, Mazz, and Jennifer Peña.
Mariachi is a form of  folk music from Mexico. Mariachi began as a regional folk style called “Son Jaliscience” in the center west of Mexico originally played only with string instruments and musicians dressed in the white pants and shirts of peasant farmers. 


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