Cinco Ways to Find the Proper H-Town Cinco de Mayo Groove

Just try to keep up with Gio Chamba (left) tonight.
Just try to keep up with Gio Chamba (left) tonight.
Photo by Christian Pena/Courtesy of Gio Chamba
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It’s been a year since the last Cinco de Mayo, so here’s a refresher on what you need to know to celebrate the day appropriately:

  • Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. The day commemorates the Mexican army’s improbable defeat of the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1865;
  • Do not wear a sombrero, serape or ridiculous fake mustache today or any other time ever, but especially not today;
  • Drink responsibly, yo;
  • There’s a lot of good music to choose from tonight, some of it programmed directly for Cinco de Mayo and some simply in the spirit of the day. Here are five great options from which you should choose. Have fun. Be respectful. Be safe. Dance your ass off.

Alley Kat Bar & Lounge
If you didn't make SUR FEST at Alley Kat back in February, tonight's scheduled events there give you a bite-sized taste of the flavor you may have missed. The annual festival began as a celebration of local Latin rock and, year by year, has expanded to include various forms of Latin music. This evening's action promises the fest's flair in smaller doses, beginning with a happy hour and DJ Juancho spinning cumbia-rock-folk tunes before giving way to Espantapajaros at 7 p.m. Spanish pop-rockers Kronika follow an hour later with a sunset set, then underground rock en espanol act Elyze brings on the night. DJ Juancho returns to the turntables around 10 p.m. to close the night out.

All over H-Town
The local king of Latin Boogaloo will be doing his best to get the party started and keep the damn thing going, beginning with an early=evening DJ set at Nightingale Room. He and bandmate Coffee Guzman will depart for a 9 p.m. live set around the corner at Market Square Park, but will leave the turntable sets at Nightingale in the capable hands of DJ Gracie Chavez, Los Skarnales’ Felipe Galvan and Houston Press photographer/taco enthusiast Marco Torres. Following the Market Square gig, the pied piper of Cinco de Mayo will then head for doings at Satellite Bar, which hosts an East End Cinco de Mayo Block Party beginning at 4 p.m. The event is free with RSVP, features Selena impersonator Amanda Solis and closes with Chamba’s late-night DJ set.

D&W Lounge
A few keywords jump out of D&W Lounge's Facebook post which details its Cinco de Mayo plans, namely brisket and tamales. (Sorry, I'm hungry at the moment.) Perhaps other celebrations will have that neon yellow nacho cheese covering everything, but at this beloved dive, expect the authentic. That means real-deal ribs and brisket from True Bark BBQ and homemade tamales from a D&W regular named Mary. Best of all, San Antonio's Los Nahuatlatos will return to D&W with their genuine blend of cumbia, salsa, conjunto, jazz, ska and hip-hop. Last year, the Press identified the band as "one of the key cogs in the roots-music renaissance happening these days in San Antonio." They impressed with shows here at Continental Club and Cactus Music in 2016. Here's a chance to see them in an intimate setting on a day of cultural importance. If somehow all of that is still not enough, D&W promises "a pinata full of some good shit." Can't beat that with a stick.

Redneck Country Club
The brothers Garza now have a full 20 years in this music thing and remain a stellar example for Texas artists looking to build and sustain a music brand. The band reached a zenith with its 2005 Grammy winner “Heaven,” but it’s never rested on that success and has continued to redefine itself, with projects that look back at classic eras and newer releases like 2013’s Revelation, which expanded on Los Lonely’s Tejano blues rock to include reggae and conjunto-tinged tracks. They’ll be joined at Redneck Country Club by singer-songwriter Lisa Morales, half of the long-running Sisters Morales group, and country crooner Curtis Grimes.

White Oak Music Hall

At first blush, Choking Victim might seem like an anomaly on this list, but fans of the band know its front man, Scott Sturgeon, better known as Stza Crack, appreciates Mexico and its culture in admirable ways. He and his assorted acts (Leftover Crack; Star Fucking Hipsters) work Mexico into their constant tour schedules. Stza has been known to sojourn to the country for down time, to eat authentic street tacos and swim off its shores. But the truest reason Choking Victim belongs on this list is resistance – the sort it still advocates through songs written some 20 years ago, and the kind the Mexicans tapped into to fend off would-be usurpers on May 5, 1862. In these times of border walls and ICE raids, there may not be a truer way to honor Cinco de Mayo’s significance than screaming along to songs from No Gods/No Managers at a Choking Victim show.

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