Sonidos y Mas

The Rocks Off 100: Festival Chicano's Daniel Bustamante

Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too.

Who? Two weekends ago, Rocks Off attended the 33rd annual Festival Chicano at Miller Outdoor Theatre. We were surprised and delighted to see almost 30,000 fans of Tejano music come out to support a movement that many have written off as dormant and dead.

The man behind the success of the event is Mr. Daniel Bustamante, an articulate and welcoming silver-haired gentleman who has been supporting Chicano causes and culture in Houston since the 1970s, with Tejano music providing his soundtrack.

What Is Your Background? "I am a Chicano," says Bustamante. "Some of my ancestors settled Tejas in the early 1700s as land grantees. I was born in Corpus Christi and raised there and in a small South Texas agricultural town of Mathis. I graduated from Del Mar Junior College in Corpus Christi and from the University of Houston in 1971.

"I have been an organizer all of my life," he adds. "As a union organizer, community activist, social advocate, and cultural worker, I have tried to ensure that all people are respected. I currently direct a civil rights organization. I am involved in work to advance culture, education, health, housing, rural development, human rights, and other vital issues in our world."

Home Base: "I live in Houston's Woodland Heights in a cottage I bought in 1976, while I was directing the Casa de Amigos Drug Treatment Program for young people that were inhalant abusers," Bustamante says.

Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Houston is the greatest city in the U.S.," crows Bustamante. "It was a boom town in 1969, when I arrived from Corpus Christi to attend the University of Houston, and it still is a boom town. The history and diversity are incredible.

"There is so much work to do in order to ensure equity and inclusion in education, employment, civil rights, health, housing, and just about everything," he adds. "Our heritage in music, culture, and history is yet to be truly told. I want to do all I can to ensure that it happens."

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When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Houston Press contributor Marco both writes and points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond.