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Fronteras: 'Conjunto Blues' Uses Music To Tell A Personal Story Of Resistance And Liberation

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Nicolás R. Valdez's one-man show, Conjunto Blues, explores the unique development of conjunto music and his personal experiences that brought him closer to the genre.
Rogelio Garza
Nicolás R. Valdez's one-man show, Conjunto Blues, explores the unique development of conjunto music and his personal experiences that brought him closer to the genre.

A one-man show is a love letter to conjunto music — the unique style of music that’s a little bit Mexican, a little bit German and every bit American.

Conjunto Blues originated as a stage play and evolved into a video performance during the pandemic. It explores this uniquely American style of music through the eyes of one man, writer and actor Nicolás Valdez, and his experiences with various family members throughout his life.

Valdez honors the memories of a cheeky abuelo, plays a music teachers who infused the love of the accordion into him at a young age, expresses the struggles of a foul-mouthed uncle who fell on hard times and embodies a 99-year-old great grandmother who is left with years of memories and some regrets.

But the production also explores conjunto music as an expression of resistance and liberation.

“It was very important for me to not romanticize our experience as Mexican Americans in this country,” said Valdez. “It has been a very long struggle for us to establish ourselves here and to claim to take ownership of our own narrative, and that was really the impetus for this show.”

Conjunto Blues will kick off this year’s virtual Tejano Conjunto Festival on May 21 at 7 p.m., and Valdez will lead an hour-long workshop Saturday, May 22 at 1 p.m.

Tickets and a full schedule of the 2-day festival can be found at GuadalupeCulturalArts.org or by calling (210) 271-3151.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren