Go Tejano Day feat. La Leyenda, La Arrolladora Banda El Limon, Mariachi Invitational Finalists Reliant Stadium March 13, 2011
Tejano is dead, at least at RodeoHouston.
Gone are the days of Selena, La Mafia, and David Lee Garza, who are now replaced with conjuntos norteños and bandas duranguense. This shift has created a divide among the Hispanic community, keeping many true fans of Tejano music away from the rodeo. Yet those sentiments did not discredit the robust performance of the two bands that played to a packed Reliant Stadium Sunday night.
La Leyenda brands itself as part of the nueva era of norteño music. The handsome five-piece band wore checkered shirts and cowboy hats, and played with the relaxed confidence that one might expect of the childhood friends from Monterrey, Mex.
The group leaned on several songs made famous by accordionist Ramon Ayala, whom they credit as a major influence. The love song "A Nadie Como Tu" prompted the ladies to sing along, but the real treasure was hearing 70,000-plus fans belt out the norteño standard "Tragos Amargos."
In between the two headliners, the audience was treated to the finals of the Annual Mariachi Invitational. The first group was Las Coronelas de Vanessa del Fierro from San Antonio. The all-female mariachis provided a strong medley of Vicente Fernandez songs, including a lively rendition of" Volver, Volver."
Next up was the Mariachi Aztlan of Edinburg, Tex. The crowd vote gave the first place trophy to them after a mix of songs by the legendary Mexican composer Jose Alfredo Jimenez. Juan Gabriel's "No Vale La Pena" was their encore.
La Arrolladora Banda El Limon provided a flashy end cap to the evening. The 17-piece banda led by director Rene Camacho opened with a high-energy fanfare of brass instruments, complemented with the smooth trills from his clarinet and dual vocalists determined to energize their adoring fans.
The multiplatinum-selling group sang about life and love with such hits as "Y Que Te Quede Claro" and "Niña De Mi Corazon." Critics of banda music may view this genre as crude and backward, yet the musical arrangements and harmonies El Limon exhibited brilliantly Sunday are meticulously prepared and difficult to execute.
In the end, good music is good music, and a talent such as theirs should be lauded. Even if it is not Tejano.
Personal Bias: I didn't ask to be Mexican, I was just born lucky.
The Crowd: Third-largest attendance ever for Rodeo Houston - 73,469. Take that, Miley Cyrus!
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Overheard In the Crowd: "Viva Mexico Cabrones!!" (Loose translation: "Good golly, I'm having a fun time tonight!"
Random Notebook Dump: That older clarinet player looks a lot like former Mexican President Vicente Fox.