Friday, May 20, 2011

Reading and Dancing in San Antonio, Storytelling in Denver and San Francisco, Critiquing in the Latino West

click on images for details

The reading and signing event for You Don't Have A Clue attracted an overflow crowd to the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio, TX on May 14. Sarah Cortez, Nanette Guadiano, Bertha Jacobson, Diana López and Manuel Ramos read from their respective stories, answered questions, and did interviews for a high school class working on a video project (who knows, it may show up on La Bloga one day.) Here are a few photos of the day - thanks to Bertha Jacobson and Flo Hernandez-Ramos for the use of their pics.

Weather, audience, and a great bookstore cooperated to make the event a hit

Bertha Jacobson, Manuel Ramos, Diana López, Sarah Cortez, Nanette Guadiano

Manuel Ramos, Sarah Cortez, Nanette Guadiano, Bertha Jacobson

Diana López

XXX Tejano Conjunto Festival

San Antonio without conjunto music is like a library without books - it makes no sense. Before and after the Twig event, Flo and I spent as much time as we could in Rosedale Park (Westside!) listening to some of the finest musicians in the world thrill a crowd that came to dance, cheer, stomp their feet and grito into the early morning hours. The outstanding lineup included famosos such as Los Tremendos Alacranes de David Flores, Oscar Hernández & The Tuff Band, Mingo Saldívar y Sus Tremendos Cuatro Espadas, Eva Ybarra, Max Baca y Los Texmaniacs, and The Hometown Boys, as well as younger groups just starting out who deserved a spot on the program. Special treats included bands that featured the heirs and relatives of Tony De La Rosa (Los De La Rosa Boys), and Ruben Naranjo (Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers) carrying on the traditions and excellence of their iconic patriarchs.

Another treat was listening to a young accordion player from the Netherlands, Dwayne Verheyden. The kid came on with Max Baca and the Texmaniacs, and those of us in the audience knew that something special was going to happen. Not just anybody gets asked to play at this festival -- you have to have something going for you that puts you above the rest, have paid your dues, or earned your chops, as they say, and so it was a bit unnerving to see the güerito strap on his Hohner squeeze box on the same stage where Flaco Jiménez, Narciso Martínez (that's him on the festival poster), Valerio Longoria, Steve Jordan, and Lydia Mendoza once wowed the crowd, where legends and myths come to life. Suffice to say no one was disappointed - the kid rocked. He more than managed to get the San Anto crowd to holler and dance and flip open their telephone video cams to record the scene.

This festival has inspired some of what I consider my best writing (read the opening chapter of The Ballad of Gato Guerrero, or listen to a reading of that chapter at this link.) San Antonio is an amazing city - not without faults like any metro area, but the gente, cultura and comida overwhelm with such good vibrations that it's easy to forget about recession, war, crime, and politics (at least for a few hours), as the accordion riffs echo in your ears, carnitas tacos drip on your fingers, and swaggering, decked-out dancers whirl under the lights.

¡Pura Chankla!

Before I forget - you ought to pick up a copy of the March/April American Book Review. This issue's theme is The Latino West and it's packed with important articles, reviews and opinion pieces written by Ricardo Gilb, Dagoberto Gilb, Yxta Maya Murray, David Dorado Romo, Josefina López, Oscar Villalon, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Sheryl Luna, Hector Cantú, Diana López, Alex Espinoza, Christine Granados, Lisa Alvarez, and Rene Perez. Several friends of La Bloga in that lineup. And the topics include Tim Z. Hernandez, Gilbert and Jaime Hernández, Alfredo Véa, Gary Soto, John Rechy, and the infamous Brando Skyhorse. Another gem from Texas - the periodical is a product of the School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Houston - Victoria.


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