Saturday Night: Tejano Music Fest 2013 at Humble Civic Center

Photos by Marco Torres
Houston's own Oscar De La Rosa y La Mafia headlined the 2013 Tejano Musicfest.
Tejano Music Fest 2013 feat. La Mafia, Emilio Navaira, Jay Perez, and Fito Olivares
Humble Civic Center
April 6, 2013

It was one of those rare, perfect, mosquito-free afternoons in the Bayou City. Little to no humidity, the temperature hovered around seventy, and the breeze blew softly through the smog-less sky. Just north of Houston, a few thousand lovers of Tejano music gathered at the fairgrounds located next to the Humble Civic Center. The mood was more family barbecue than concert, albeit with a better list of invited musical guests. And maybe best of all, the price of beer was only $5.

The crowd included a range of old-school and younger Tejanos, from cholos wearing fedoras, Locs sunglasses, and Dickies, to guys and gals dressed in Wranglers and roper boots, all ready to dance and sing along to a strong lineup of the brightest stars of Tejano music.

Fito Olivares, "El Rey de La Cumbia"
It was as if I were being transported back to my middle- and high-school days, when Tejano music ruled the airwaves, and Tejano artists still released new albums that people actually purchased. Before the so-called death of Tejano music.

I arrived to the festival just as saxophonist Fito Olivares was gearing up his band La Pura Sabrosura to entertain the large crowd with his fun and lively cumbias. This man was the reason I picked up an alto saxophone as a kid, first learning to play his songs by ear, then later learning how to read and write music as a skinny middle-school nerd. I would practice my versions of "La Gallinita" and "Juana La Cubana" until my lips bled, or until my mother asked me kindly to take a break.

Wearing matching red silk shirts, Fito and his band played hits such as "El Chicle," "El Cholesterol," and "Cumbia Caliente" with the same energy and emphasis as when I first saw them live in Pasadena at my cousin's quinceañera 20 years ago. The man is a master of his instrument, a virtuoso who dominates the woodwind with both agility and determination.

After his set, I spoke briefly with Mr. Olivares backstage, thanking him for his music, and expressing my condolences on the passing of his brother, Javier.

The MC took the chance between sets to thank the organizers of the festival, a new company called Imperial Productions. "Although we have no radio stations on the major airwaves, Tejano music lives on in the hearts of every single one of you" he said to the more than 4,000 in attendance. He continued to say that Imperial is working to bring more artists in concert, including conjuntos like Siggno, Intocable, and Grupo Solido, and well as the accordion legend Ramon Ayala.

"Esta musica no pasa de moda!" (This music doesn't get old/never dies!)

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