Aztec Theatre | Texas Public Radio

Aztec Theatre

George Clinton

Dance to some Funk Royalty, get down with some classic Tex-Mex and then relax with a baroque orchestra. Here are your best bets for this musical weekend.

courtesy the artist

From a Hill Country excursion to the San Antonio Symphony, to a performance from an internet sensation, your weekend is here.

Carl King

A familiar name heads to the Alamo City to play for the first time.  I spoke to Dweezil Zappa on the phone recently and he has a bit of his dad Frank's edgy sizzle. Here he speaks about contemporary rock stars who care more about status than becoming musicians.

“Most people when they get into music they’re looking at playing stuff that is relatively easy for them to pull off and they just get to go out there and pose on stage. They have more emphasis on dance and lighting than they do on music these days.”

Liverpool Legends

A Fab Four of sorts will be rocking the Aztec Theatre on Saturday night. I was able to speak with someone of note about that concert--very much of note! The late George Harrison’s gregarious sister, Louise, who insists on being called "Lou" because "Louise" is "so old-fashioned."

Click the audio link above, and you may think you’re hearing the Beatles, but you’re hearing Liverpool Legends.

“They really pull the audience right in to be part of the show," Lou says. "After 3 or 4 Beatles songs they’re jumping around like they’re teenagers again.”

A three-man jazz troupe is heading to San Antonio. I caught up with Reid Anderson, bass player of The Bad Plus, in New York, where the group is just back from a European Tour.

Their music has an elemental, austere feel, while somehow at the same time feeling full of sound. I asked Reid how he described their music.

“The instrumentation is acoustic bass, drums and piano," he said. "At the core we’re jazz musicians and we’re improvisers, but we don’t consider that we have to make our music sound like jazz necessarily. We try to bring a strong energy to what we do."

Arts San Antonio is bringing in a big act to the newly re-opened Aztec Theatre. It’s the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. I asked their piano-playing band-leader, Oscar Hernandez, to describe their music.

“I guess it’s salsa music that’s based in New York City, steeped in the tradition of what salsa music was before it became salsa music back in the 50s, 60s and 70s," he said. "Spanish Harlem Orchestra is one of the finest music ensembles of any band, of any kind of music that you’ll hear anywhere in the world.”

He’s not just making big claims, either. These guys have the chops.

Greg Gorman

He’s a German who, after a trip to the far east, somehow ended up as a flamenco guitar player. He’s Ottmar Liebert, and if you haven’t heard his music, you ought to.

Liebert’s road to success has been a winding one. One that started when he was just 19 and on a train.

“In Moscow I went on the Trans Siberian Train to then the East Coast of the then Soviet Union," he said. "From there I took a boat to Japan, and then continued there to Taiwan, Honk Kong, Thailand.”

On that year-long journey he realized music held a special power.

Courtesy photo

There is far more to the Aztec Theatre's story than just its future -- its past and architectural pedigree are nothing short of fascinating. I spoke to San Antonio Conservation Society’s Sue Ann Pemberton, who said its architectural theme is called Mayan Revival.

"It was constructed in 1926 as one of the thematic theaters of San Antonio" Pemberton explained. "The Aztec, the Mixtec, the Zapotec, the Toltec and the Mayan cultures were all revealed here in this theater."

Courtesy photo

After years of disuse, the vintage 1926 Aztec Theater fronting St. Mary’s and Commerce Streets downtown, has now been re-imagined and completely re-modeled. But it almost didn’t happen that way.

“This was almost condemned, and this building almost came down and became a hotel,” said Sam Panchevre of popular restaurant and live music venue Sam’s Burger Joint fame. He describes what he's done at the Aztec.

"It’s an adaptive re-use of old architecture," he said.