If you grew up in South Texas (or even if you didn’t, but love to discover or learn about new music), chances are you’ve heard of musical legends like Flaco Jiménez, Narciso Martínez, and “Queen of the Accordion” Eva Ybarra. One thing they all have in common is that they share the spirit of a musical genre with San Antonio origins — Conjunto music.
Now, you can join Mariachi Bar at Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery in celebrating the acoustic sounds of the accordion, bajo sexto + tololoche during its Conjunto Underground Series.
We spoke to the creator, local musician Álvaro Del Norte from the Piñata Protest, who shares details about the event and what you can expect from this intimate night of South Texas-rooted music.
What is Conjunto music?
Conjunto refers to several types of small musical ensembles. The music’s main instrument is the button accordion that was brought over to Texas by European immigrants in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The bajo sexto, however, is a Mexican string instrument with ties to Mariachi music. Both created a musical fusion of Polka and Ranchera sounds that tell the stories + rich cultural history of the people living in South Texas. Today, Conjunto is known as an umbrella for other genres that emerged from it including Tejano and Norteño music. Think: Ramon Ayala, Tigres del Norte, and Selena.
Why start Conjunto Underground?
A musician himself, Álvaro was inspired to start the series for two reasons — one being the shortage of gigs for local musicians due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The other as a way to showcase the incredible talent that shines a light on Conjunto music in its most authentic form. The series captures the sights, sounds, and environment of when this musical genre began in the backyard of people’s homes right here in South Texas. Think: no stage, no lights, no huge sound system — only the sound of the instrument y parejas Bailando (accompanied by couples dancing).
What can attendees expect?
The 21+ show is free thanks to the collaboration between Álvaro and Mariachi Bar at Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery. You can catch Josh Baca of the Grammy award-winning band Los Texmaniacs this Thurs., Feb. 10 from 7-10 p.m. The series will kick off with a performance from Álvaro’s band Piñata Protest playing notable Conjunto covers followed by a short intermission and then the featured guest. Pro Tip: There will be a specially curated cocktail menu with sips like the Mexican Martini + Big Red Rita.
Will there be other events?
If you can’t make tomorrow’s series, make sure to mark your calendar as the “Queen of Accordion” and notably one of the first women to take the Conjunto music scene by storm, Eva Ybarra will play on Thurs., March 2 from 7-10 p.m. Pro Tip: make sure to get there early as capacity is limited.