Thursday, 5 September 2013

¡Viva la musica Norteña!

Though I call myself a Memphibian, it is not by birth. My family comes from Texas originally - indeed almost all my extended family still lives there - and I was born in Fort Worth and lived in Arlington until 1970. We then moved to New Haven, Connecticut, for four years, before moving to Memphis. One set of my grandparents lived in the (then) overwhelmingly white northeast Texas, not far from the Louisiana/Arkansas border (the "Ark-La-Tex"), and the other set lived in Fort Worth, which had a significant Latino presence.

Back in the 1970's and early '80's, when we would make fairly frequent trips down to Texas at Christmas time and in the summer vacations, one thing I would look forward to was switching on KTVT, Channel 11, in Fort Worth (which was just around the corner from my grandparents' house, and I thus imagined that the signals were coming directly from there) early on a Saturday evening, and seeing mariachi and Norteño groups performing in the studio, on very low-budget music shows. And there were radio stations which played nothing but cumbias, rancheras, polkas, and all the other styles associated with this music. I remember beach holidays in and around Galveston where I would entertain myself out on the breezy deck at night (this was lonnnnng before the advent of the internet or satellite TV) with my radio, scanning up and down for Mexican stations, and immersing myself in hours of accordion fuelled musical revelry.

This felt very exotic to me, as Memphis, at that point in history, had a Hispanic population which could be counted on the fingers of one hand (this is no longer the case). I thought at the time, and I still do today, that I could listen to this music every day and never tire of it. And there is no better representative, in my book, than Flaco Jimenez, featured in performance in San Antonio (where my Fort Worth grandparents were from) in this segment from the excellent documentary which follows. 

1 comment:

laura jean said...

I am convinced that you and I were in Galveston at the same time at some point in the past. I was pudgy, blonde and perpetually sunburned.