A Tex-Mex Hoedown at the Skirball Center
The Skirball Center provides an excellent venue for outdoor music with its Summer Concerts series. On Thursday the arena was filled with Mexican conjunto music Texas style. Flaco Jimenez, an honored 5 Grammy pioneer of the genre, played with acclaimed conjunto group Max Baca & Los Texmaniacs. The result was a solid two-hours of danceable music with an accordion beat.
The show began with Los Texmaniacs. Max Baca first met Flaco Jimenez when he was seven (he was invited onstage to play a couple of numbers with his idol). Twenty years later he joined Jimenez’s band. In 1997 he decided he was ready to form his own band. As he explains it, Los Texmaniacs seeks to create “hip music that people can relate to, that everyone in the world can relate to, with the traditional conjunto elements without losing your culture – where you came from. But why not kick it up a notch? Jam out a little bit, rock out, and as long as the notes are played right, and the feeling is right… it’s gonna be good.” This philosophy perfectly describes the band’s set. Each number served as a modern interpretation of traditional conjunto. Their set was as smooth a blend of the old and the new as the electric bass and accordion that were among the group’s instruments.
For the second set the group’s accordionist passed the instrument off to Flaco Jimenez. Now 75, the legendary musician spoke softly to the audience, seeming to save his energy. This ended as soon as he played the second set with the Texmaniacs. In his duets with Baca, Jimenez showed off the ability to blend his tradiational sound with the band’s updates of conjunto. This is no surprise, for the older musician has joined forces with Dwight Yoakam, Carlos Santana and the Rolling Stones in the past. The show was not perfect; the crowd grew louder than Jimenez in the later parts of the show. Still, the sight of people dancing to the polka-style beat of music played in an open arena made for a special night’s entertainment.
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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