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Arts & Culture

Conjunto Festival Celebrates 'Folkloric Music of South Texas'

"Conjunto music is the authentic folkloric music of South Texas," says Christina Balli. She is the executive director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, which hosts the Conjunto Festival starting Wednesday.

The great jalapeno-flavored mish-mash of influences, as played on accordion and bajo sexto, makes up much of the soundtrack of working-class south Texas. Balli says their celebration of all things Conjunto goes back a long way.

"For 36 years now, we're been celebrating Conjunto Music with a festival. This festival is the oldest, the biggest, the longest-running in the nation," she said. "This is the mothership of Conjunto Festivals and it really helped put Conjunto on the Folklore map of the world. We have a big group of fans that come from Japan every year; there's a Japanese Conjunto group. And we have some fans from Spain; Flaco Jimenez is huge in Spain."

And aside from reasons cited by academics, Balli says Conjunto is just the real stuff.

"It's authentic to this region. It is something that was created here and nowhere else," she says.

The five-day festival starts Wednesday morning with the Seniors Conjunto Dance at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, with a hall of fame induction on Thursday and the festivities continue at Rosedale Park over Memorial Day weekend.

"Starting from noon until 11 p.m., a variety of Conjunto bands, the best of the Conjunto bands out there from the state of Texas, and young people kicking off the performance each night. It's over 30 bands in 3 days, a family-friendly event over at Rosedale Park," Balli says.

Among the groups performing that 3-day event are some of the biggest names in Conjunto music.

Find more on the festival here