AUSTIN (KXAN) — Conjunto music is alive in Austin this weekend, with the Rancho Alegre Conjunto Music Festival making a return in Austin.
The genre originated with Tejanos in Texas during the 18th and 19th centuries, and it’s still very popular among Mexican-Americans in the state.
One local nonprofit hopes the festival this weekend will promote and preserve the historic melody.
Conjunto music runs in Susan Torres’ blood.
“I come from a lineage of musicians. My mom and dad both played Conjunto music,” Torres said.
Born into a musical family, Torres was destined to pick up the accordion.
“I figured ‘hey, I can type,’ because I was taking typing in high school. ‘I can type with a bunch of buttons, why can’t I just hit a bunch of buttons on the box?'” she said.
But for Frank Cruz, his musical journey was a little different.
“I started playing — I must have been like about maybe 30 to 35 years old,” Cruz said.
Today, these musicians are united by the sounds of the button accordion and bajo sexto — the instruments needed to play Conjunto. It’s a music genre primarily popular in south Texas and northern Mexico.
“I would describe it as the saddest music, being danced so cheerfully,” explained Frank Cuellar with Rancho Alegre.
He said it’s the feeling the tunes bring that makes him want to ensure this beat isn’t forgotten and passed on to newer generations.
“These musicians, they are as talented as we’ve seen. They’re as talented as anyone else, and they deserve a stage. They deserve to be heard,” said Cuellar.
This is the first Rancho Alegre Conjunto Music Festival in Austin after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It starts Friday night at 7 p.m. at Central Machine Works in east Austin. The festival runs through Sunday; there’s a full schedule online.