Los Padrinos – 20 minute Conjunto lesson

From our performance at Luminarias (A San Antonio Arts Festival)


San Blas

The other day we had a gig and I was feeling under the weather.  Actually all that week I had a lot of congestion and cough, I was worried that I would not be able to sing for the gig we had.  That would have been bad, because I am the only other guy in the band that has a half way decent voice!  Anyways I was at church and the priest said he was going to bless our throats because it was in celebration of El Dia de San Blas.  I thought, “I sure could use that!”, so I lined up and received a blessing.  Well let me tell you I was still worried,  I brought cough drops, a jug of water, took some lemons, etc (just in case).  Well wouldn’t you know that from the first note I sang, everything was fine!  What a great relief! Thanks San Blas!  Now what do I do about the other days?

New head of the Texas Rangers

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Tony Leal is the first Hispanic to lead los rinches de tejas.   Isn’t it ironic?

Spam emails

Here is a hilarious commentary from Carlos Guerra at the Express-News here in San Antonio…

Web Posted: 12/09/2008 12:00 CST

Alert: Spare me e-mail alerts about the end of the world

Don’t buy into everything you read, especially on the Internet.

More than a decade ago, I started adding an e-mail address at the end of my column for readers to contact me. It precipitated an avalanche of information that has led to incredible stories.

On the down side, my e-mail address is now on every spam list in the world, so I get e-mails in languages and alphabets I can’t even identify. One day, I got the same Nigerian letter advising me of my million-dollar good fortune in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

But the most amusing missives are the forwarded e-mails sent by new computer users who have just discovered the Internet. Most often users of AOL, formerly America Online, they send things I might not have seen before, almost all of which I have.

Many are alerts about impending cyber disasters. Last week, I got yet another warning I have been getting for at least a decade about a bogus bill pending before Congress to tax e-mail. How a hoax like that can exist so long befuddles me.

My all-time favorite, however, has to be the warning of the “ultimate virus” that, I am sure, was started as a joke but still gets sent out by people who don’t get it. This virus, I was warned, will “erase everything on your computer and any storage media within 20 feet of the infected computer, demagnetize the stripes on all of your credit and debit cards and change your pin number,” and “recalibrate your refrigerator, making all of your ice cream melt and your milk curdle” (at the same time), and “program all speed-dials on your cell phone to call 900 sex lines.”

Why people believe this message amazes me after it warns that the virus will “drink all of your beer, leave dirty socks on your coffee table when you’re expecting company and replace your shampoo with Nair and your Nair with Rogaine” and “will cause you to do unusual things like running with scissors and throwing things in a way that is only fun until someone loses an eye, rewrite your back-up files, changing all of your active verbs to passive tense and incorporate undetectable misspellings which grossly change the interpretation of key sentences, leave your toilet seat up and your hair dryer plugged in dangerously close to a full bathtub and will not only remove forbidden tags from your mattresses, (it) will also refill your skim milk with whole milk (while) molecularly rearranging your cologne or perfume, causing it to smell like dill pickles.”

And if that isn’t enough, it will even “change hotel billings so your girl- or boyfriend’s hotel bill will be charged to your account while he or she is cheating on you.”

But most often, these e-mail spams — which are almost always multiple-forwarded messages — come from people with a fuzzy agenda who are gullible and don’t have a lot of smarts or research capability. The latest of these funnies came from eight readers, all in one day, all via AOL.

“(W)e’ll probably have to Take (sic) action since B. Hussein Obama (“Henry B. Hussein Obama,” according to one letter) won the election,” and “Texas is the only state with a legal right to secede from the Union (Reference the Texas-American Annexation Treaty of 1848.)”

Hate to disappoint you guys (and yes, they were all guys, and probably really dumb or old ones, or both), but according to the Yale Law School blog, which includes the text of the Texas-American Annexation Treaty, there is nothing in it that allows secession.

But more important, the treaty doesn’t exist.

“That treaty was submitted to the Senate on April 22, 1844,” the Yale blog notes, “and it was rejected by the Senate by a vote of sixteen ayes to thirty-five noes on the following June 8.”

So don’t get your hopes up about never having to say “President Obama.” [END]

Only in San Anto

I happened to be downtown today near our Cathedral on a beautiful Saturday night.  The city recently renovated the main plaza downtown so I was enjoying the new addition to our downtown when I heard music coming from a small tent near the edge of the plaza.  I immediately heard an accordion so I walked towards the tent.  It was kind of dark so I couldn’t tell who the band was, they were pretty good.  As I got closer to the tent (it was surrounded by Christmas lights) I saw a group of people lounging around enjoying the music- about 20-25 people in all.  It was a very homey atmosphere.  As I got up to the tent (there was no stage it was set on the ground) I realized that it was Los Tex-Maniacs with Max Baca, David Farias, Speedy V and Chente Barrera on drums!  Only in San Antonio could you find this band playing for free and only about 25 people checking them out.  I went up to the tent to say hi to guys, then I left.  Just another night in San Antonio.

Manuel Peña interview

Click here to see this interesting interview from the #1 expert on Conjunto music Dr. Manuel Peña.

About Conjunto by Ramiro Burr

Very cool comments from Ramiro…

Many consider the folksy conjunto secondary to the more popular Tejano.

Those who do are missing out on a real treasure. While conjunto does not have the flash and pop of Tejano, it does work its own beautiful magic.

Top artists like Conjunto Bernal, the late Tony De La Rosa, Mingo Saldivar, Los Dos Gs and others know how to create sparks with the basic accordion and bajo sexto, bottom-heavy rhythms, direct lyrics and a heavy dose of blues power.

At its most primal, raw conjunto is driven by intense, almost tribalistic percussions and fat bass lines.
Like blues and reggae, the sheer repetition of these bottom heavy rhythms tend to entrance and hypnotize.
Fans are also captivated by the lyrics, sung with honesty, pain and conviction.

And yet despite the often sad lyrics, ironically conjunto music is often described as “happy dance music.”

Why?

Because even if you don’t know the lyrics, the dance beats are irresistible and always compel folks to the dance floor.

For those who do sing along, they relive the moments when life is intense — that first love, that terrible breakup, the pain and solitude, hopes and dreams.

Those are the unforgettable moments that make up a lifetime. Even if we lost in love, ultimately we’re happy we had an opportunity. Often we walk away a better person. And with the distance of time, that special song helps us relive that moment.

The catharsis helps us find healing and hope.

Yeah, there might be tears and old wounds may resurface. But undoubtedly, there all be also a varying sense of tension and release, redemption and absolution, clarity and understanding.

Timeless nuggets include “Mi Unico Camino,” “Preso sin delito,” “El Silencio de La Noche,” and many others.
In Mexico, there’s an old saying, “la music es la vida, y el recordar es vivir (music is life and to remember, is to live again).” It often is used to describe fiery rancheras but it also applies to conjunto.

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