Go Tejano Day Feat. La Maquinaria Norteña, La Arrolladora Banda El Limón NRG Stadium March 15th, 2015
Go Tejano Day at RodeoHouston will always hold a special place in my heart. Growing up, my mom would always save just enough money to buy us tickets to the rodeo every year for this day. I was present at those famous performances by Selena in the early '90 and have seen the shift happen from Tejano to Norteño to Banda, and have had countless discussions about the life and death of Tejano music.
The important thing to realize is that Go Tejano Day is not specific to Tejano music; the real purpose is the celebration of vaqueros and the Texan way of life for those of Mexican-American descent. As long as we can all come together and celebrate as a family and a culture, the music itself should remain secondary.
Which is why I make it a point to keep an open mind and support Go Tejano Day. And every year, the rewards I see and feel from attending is far greater than the regret of not hearing Tejano music at RodeoHouston.
As I walked into NRG Park Sunday, I felt chills. I remembered those walks with my mom, eating funnel cakes and turkey legs and drinking lemonade with her. It was the one day of the year I would wear my Wranglers and borrow a pair of my father's boots.
Still, I can't help but to think that one of these days, they've got to bring back Tejano music, right? Like a reunion or something? Like David Lee Garza with Emilio & Ram & Roberto Pulido. Maybe one day...
Jumping to the present day, this year's entertainment was a mouthful. Almost 20 syllables between both groups, and boy did they bring the sound to back up their names. The name of the first band, La Maquinaria Norteña, translate to "The Norteño Music Machine." Their sound is quite different from other Norteño bands in that they utilize the alto saxophone as a primary instrument alongside the accordion.
The band opted not to ride to the stage, but rather began their show by walking/marching on the sandy arena floor, instruments in hand. That was such a player move, something I've never seen done at RodeoHouston before. I liked them right way. They were dressed in custom suits and boots with the colors of the Texas flag waving proud.
They opened with "Se Que Llorare," a sweet yet lively track about, what else, love and heartbreak for a female. "I've even erased your number from my phone...Too bad I still know it by memory" says the song's chorus. I took a look into the crowd and saw lots of shuffling and dancing in the seats. The fans were digging the energy and sound. "Así Ya No" was another crowd pleaser, enticing many to sing along.
Between the two headliners, two mariachi groups competed in the finals of the Annual Mariachi Invitational. Group No. 1 was Houston's own Mariachi Imperial de America, who offered robust renditions of "La Rama del Mesquite" and "Por Tu Malido Amor." Singer and violinist Stephanie Tunchez really captured the audiences attention with her lovely voice and beauty.
Group No. 2 was San Antonio's Mariachi Azteca de America, who performed a very traditional set with "Camino de Guanajuato" and "El Sinaloense." They also had the good fortune of playing second, which pretty much assured them the win. Great music from both mariachis, and congratulations to both.
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Once La Arrolladora took the stage, the crowd was ready to explode in cheers. With an army of horns and clarinets and percussion, the banda hits hard and fast with enough passion to fill the entire arena. They opened with "Lo Hiciste Otra Vez" (You Did It Again), which began smoothly and ramped up into a booty-shaking good time. The real MVP of the group had to be the tuba, who played every bass-line note with the expertise of a virtuoso, all while dancing and swaying with the beat.
As I walked through the crowd, I was taken aback by an older gentleman in the crowd. He seemed very serious, the type of guy who doesn't usually let the world know his emotions. But on this day, with this band in front of him, he was singing "Simpre Estas Tu" (You Will Always Be There) at the top of his lungs. It gave me the chills and filled me with happiness.
And that's why I always attend Go Tejano Day, where even the most macho of dudes are hit with the inspiration to sing and dance, and the ladies follow in their bootsteps.
Personal Bias: Tejano y Mexicano from my fitted to my pointy boots.
The Crowd: ¡No fue penal! (Announced attendance: 75,357 -- a new RodeoHouston all-time attendance record)
Overheard In the Crowd: "The chi-chis are out today!"
Random Notebook Dump:
— IG: MarcoFromHouston (@Marco4rmHouston) March 16, 2015
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.
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