7 Cinco de Mayo shows to catch in Austin

Los Super Seven performs during SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, March 15, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Infuse your Cinco de Mayo celebrations with some local live music.

The holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862 when a scrappy Mexican army defeated Napoleon III’s powerful French troops. Although now a minor holiday in Mexico, Americans over the decades have embraced its cultural significance. Some scholars believe had Mexicans not won that battle that the French could have backed the Confederacy in America’s Civil War, perhaps resulting in a very different United States.

Texans can take pride in knowing that the Mexican forces were led by Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, a native Texan born in present day Goliad.

RELATED: Cinco de Mayo through Civil War lens

Check out a sampling of shows honoring the holiday:

Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival with Flaco Jimenez: The annual free celebration of accordion-driven music runs May 4-6 at various locations including Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater, Stubb’s Graceland Grocery in Oak Hill, and One-2-One Bar. On Cinco de Mayo, the fest will attempt to set an official Guinness World Record for the number of accordionists playing the polka “Viva Seguin” at the same time. The family-friendly festival, which will feature more than 20 different bands from across Texas, will be headlined by legendary musician Flaco Jimenez. More info: ranchoalegretexas.com.

Cinco de Mayo with Tequila Rock Revolution & Boca Abajo at One-2-One Bar: When metal meets mariachi, you get Tequila Rock Revolution. The music salutes mariachi roots and infuses it with modern metal and electronica. The result makes for a must-see show that features a 10-piece supergroup donning Mexican sugar skull face paint. Join them as they celebrate their latest single release. Rockers Boca Abajo round out the bill. Showtime starts at 10:30 p.m. More info: one2onebar.com

Tacos & Tequila with Grupo Fantasma at Belmont: Latin funk masters Grupo Fantasma will lead the Cinco de Mayo bash that’ll have a special margarita menu and free tacos. Doors open at 7 p.m and tickets cost $25 in advance $35 at the door. More info: tacosandtequilaatx.com

KELLY WEST / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Bidi Bidi Banda to perform Cinco de Mayo at Mohawk. 

Bidi Bidi Banda, Tiarra Girls, Este Vato at Mohawk outdoor: Austin’s first all-star Selena tribute band headlines the celebration in honor of the Queen of Tejano music. Teenage alternative rock trio and sisters Tiarra Girls also make up the lineup along with the eight-piece Latin fusion outfit Este Vato. Tickets range from $15-20. Doors open at 8 p.m. More info: eventbrite.com/q/mohawk/events/33132

Cinco de Mayo 2018 at Fiesta Gardens: The 26th annual free accordion festival features food booths and acts such as Johnny Degollado y Su Conjunto, Los Pinkys and Ruben Garza. Lawnchairs permitted. More info: cincodemayoaustin.com

La Voz Latina at Cactus Cafe: Local artists will honor Latin American female singers with a special tribute concert at 7 p.m. at the Cactus Cafe. Leti Garza, Stephanie Bergara, Suzanna Choffel, Ley Line and Vanessa Lively are among the featured performers. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door. More info: cactuscafe.org,

Cinco de Mayo Cumbia Night with El Tule, Plan Sonidero, DJ Megabass at Hotel Vegas: After receiving a city proclamation declaring April 26 “El Tule” Day, the music veterans who have been making our hips shake for the past 15 years will be leading the party. Cumbia masters Plan Sonidero and DJ Megabass are also among the high-energy lineup. More info: texashotelvegas.com

 

Where to Celebrate Selena’s birthday in Austin

Selena performs at Hemisfair Plaza in San Antonio, TX, April 24, 1994. Photo by Sung Park / American-Statesman archive

While not all of us snagged a limited-edition reusable Selena tote bag at H-E-B last month (sniff), we can still celebrate pop culture icon Selena Quintanilla Pérez at April birthday celebrations in her honor across Austin.

The Tejano superstar — who was on the brink of crossing over to the English-language music market before she died in 1995 — would have turned 47 on April 16. Selena’s legacy lives on as new generations learn about her life, career and achievements. In the past couple of years, Selena has received numerous posthumous awards such as a spot on the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Here are some Austin events where you can honor Selena’s memory:

April 14: Son de Rey Selena tribute concert from 9-11:30 p.m. at Sahara Lounge (1413 Webberville Road)

April 15: Selena Drag Brunch from noon to 3 p.m. at Micheladas Cafe y Cantina (333 E. Second St.)

April 15: Bidi Bidi Brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at El Chilito (2219 Manor Road) with dance contest, look-alike contest and singing competition. There will also be a taco-themed photo booth plus art for sale.

April 16: Alamo Drafthouse “Selena” movie party and screening at 7 p.m. at South Lamar and Village locations, 7:20 p.m. at Lakeline location. Arrive early for a pre-show featuring Selena music videos and rare interviews with the late star. Props and a lyric sheet to sing along with her music will be provided.

April 16: Selena-themed painting class from 7-9 p.m. at Painting with a Twist (6705 US-290 #501) with door prizes, games and Tejano music playing during the two-hour class. Reserve your spot online. Class costs $35 per person.

April 17: TuezGayz annual Selena tribute party at Barbarella (615 Red River St.). Doors open at 10 p.m. and small hourly dance tributes will happen at 11 p.m., midnight, 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.

April 18: Selena Trivia night hosted by Get it Gals from 8-10 p.m. at Hole in the Wall (2538 Guadalupe St.)

If you feel like a road trip, head to Selena’s hometown of Corpus Christi for Fiesta de la Flor, the annual two-day music festival that celebrates the life and legacy of the Queen of Tejano. Headliners include The Mavericks and Los Palominos April 13 and Becky G and Elida Reyna April 14. A fireworks finale tribute to Selena wraps up the festival.

Where to celebrate César Chávez Day in Austin

Cesar Chavez on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol on Labor Day 1966. Photo contributed by Phil Oakley

Civil rights activist César Chávez was no stranger to Austin. In 1966, he arrived to lend his support to agricultural workers who marched from the Rio Grande Valley to the Texas Capitol seeking a pay raise from about 40 to 60 cents an hour to $1.25.

Chávez met the marchers, who stayed at St. Edward’s University overnight, at the campus and joined them for what became a historic march — one that’s often credited with giving rise to the state’s Chicano movement.

On Chávez’ birthday March 31, celebrations across the country will honor his life and legacy. In Austin, don’t miss a free screening of the critically-acclaimed documentary “Dolores” at 7 p.m. March 29 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.

The documentary, directed by Peter Bratt, tells the story of Dolores Huerta, whom the filmmaker describes as “among the most important yet least-known activists in American history.” Huerta co-founded the first farmworkers union with Chávez — all while raising her 11 children.

Stick around after the film for what’s sure to be an insightful conversation with some of Austin’s prominent community leaders including Lilia Rosas, caretaker of Resistencia Bookstore, and award-winning poet Ire’ne Lara Silva.

RELATED: Check out more cultural art events

On March 31, Austinites can also join the annual “Sí Se Puede” family-friendly march, which will feature speakers, music and dancers. This year’s theme centers around helping renters and homeowners of color remain in their homes as well as the continued fight for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to stay in the country.

Marchers will assemble at 10 a.m. at Terrazas library on 1105 E. Cesar Chavez St. and head to the A.B. Cantu/Pan American Recreation Center, where the community will gather from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. For more information, call march organizers People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources at 512-401-3311.

SXSW showcase highlights Puerto Rican artists affected by Hurricane María

Andrea Cruz performs during SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Friday, March 16, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Andrea Cruz‘ debut album “Tejido de Laurel” released in September 2017 – just two days after Hurricane María devastated the island. Instead of the concerts and promotional events that follow a record launch, Cruz found herself instead distributing food and water to affected families across Puerto Rico.

It wasn’t exactly how she imagined her first record launch. Her aunt lost her home and Cruz’ medicinal plant garden was wiped out. “It looked like winter because the trees were bare as if they had caught fire,” Cruz says. “But we’re a resilient island.”

Cruz is among the Puerto Rican artists performing at South by Southwest’s first Sounds from Puerto Rico showcase Friday at Speakeasy, which starts at 8 p.m and ends at 2 a.m. The showcase will also be a benefit fundraiser for World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit founded by Chef José Andrés that has provided more than 2.6 million meals in Puerto Rico.

MORE SXSW: 3 global bands that’ll keep your heart pumping

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Like Cruz, the other artists in the showcase experienced the impact of the hurricane in some way. At Speakeasy Kabaret, tucked behind the main venue stage, artist supporters will perform as well during the benefit showcase.

For Cruz, music is part of the healing process. So she took her guitar with her to the different towns where she was helping distribute basic needs and played songs for affected families whenever she could. Sometimes that meant performing in people’s front porch or in community relief stations like basketball courts.

“Everyone thinks of food and water in emergencies,” she says. “But I had crying mothers thanking me for bringing music (to them in the hurricane’s aftermath). People also need to heal spiritually and mentally.”

Among the themes that “Tejido de Laurel,” touches on are healing and nature, which now seems serendipitous. Without electricity, many of Puerto Rico’s music venues like bars and restaurants were shut down, leaving musicians out of work.

SXSW 2018: Rúben Blades sets record straight about life, career

“There’s no solid music industry in Puerto Rico, so you have to do it yourself,” Cruz says. That DIY attitude has been felt even more after the hurricane. Musicians in Puerto Rico are now creating innovative approaches to booking shows from launching house concerts to aligning with global companies that offer rotating concerts that don’t depend on any one venue.

Cruz says that ingenuity helps keeps musicians pushing forward despite lack of resources. About a month after the hurricane hit, Cruz and some of her friends sat in a bar with finicky Internet powered by generators and applied to SXSW.

“It was the last day to apply,” she says. “We thought ‘let’s try and see what happens.'”

Voto Latino announces surprise for ‘Dreamers’ at SXSW Dream Out Loud concert

With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA, tied up in the court system and a murky outlook for a legislative fix, the lives of more than 120,000 young immigrants in Texas hangs in limbo.

Los Lobos performs during SXSW’s Dream Out Loud concert in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, March 15, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Since President Donald Trump cancelled DACA in September, it’s been a tumultuous time for an estimated 800,000 youths across the country. Often called “Dreamers,” these young immigrants were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and have work permits that protect them from deportation.

RELATED: Life in limbo for DACA recipients

At South by Southwest on Thursday, the nonprofit organization Voto Latino brought together activist musicians for a free “Dream Out Loud” concert at the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake hosted by actor and activist Wilmer Valderrama. Voto Latino announced at the concert that law firm King & Spalding will provide free legal counsel and cover filing fees for those facing deportation. They encouraged DACA recipients and people with temporary protected status to text DREAM to 73179 for more information.

Legendary accordionist Flaco Jimenez joins Los Super Seven during SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, March 15, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The evening dedicated to Dreamers featured performers including Mexican electro-corrido band Centavrvs, Colombian DJ collective El Freaky, Tex-Mex greats Los Super Seven featuring artists such as Flaco Jimenez, Rick Treviño, Steve Berlin and Max Baca. Legendary musicians Los Lobos, minus David Hidalgo, headlined the show.

SXSW 2018: Rubén Blades ‘sets record straight’ about  life, career

Panamanian artist Ruben Blades applauds a speaker’s message about the importance of Dreamers during SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, March 15, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Latin American icon Rúben Blades stood alongside a group of DACA recipients who took the stage and shared their stories.

For 21-year-old student Berenice Gonzalez, who majors in biology at Texas A&M International University, the uncertainty over DACA’s future means having to be ready for anything. She lost a semester at school during a period when her DACA permit expired and she couldn’t renew.

Dreamers hold up a banner in between music sets during SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, March 15, 2018. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Gonzalez said she began saving money at the time in order to move to Nuevo Laredo, where she says she doesn’t know anyone or have any relatives. “At first it was scary,” she said on Thursday. “Now I just try to prepare as much as possible for whatever may come.”

MORE SXSW: Gina Chavez leads flash mob dance party

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SXSW 2018: Latin American icon Rubén Blades ‘sets record straight’ about his life, career

 

NPR AltLatino host Felix Contreras interviewed Rúben Blades during SXSW. Photo by Nancy Flores

Latin American icon Rúben Blades, who helped revolutionize the New York salsa music movement in the 1970s, has managed to lead a prolific decades-long career while keeping many parts of his life private or under the radar.

Some, for example, might not realize that aside from penning the Latin American classic song “Pedro Navaja,” Blades has also had acting roles in more than 30 films, worked alongside greats such as Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro and now portrays Daniel Salazar in AMC’s “Fear The Walking Dead.” Others might not know that he’s earned two law degrees, created a political party in his native Panama and ran for president of the Central American country.

En español: Se estrena filme sobre Rubén Blades en festival SXSW

That’s why with the South by Southwest premiere of Ruben Blades Is Not My Name,” the documentary about his life, Blades said he hopes to finally set the record straight.

“I wasn’t keen on cameras following me for a documentary,” he said at a featured session on Wednesday afternoon, where he was interviewed by NPR Alt.Latino‘s Felix Contreras. But “when you have more of a past than a future,” you need to share your own story, the 69-year-old star said.

MORE SXSW: See all of Austin360’s SXSW coverage

Blades pushed the salsa music boundaries when he wrote songs about social issues instead of the escapist songs that dominated the genre at the time. “I didn’t write to get famous,” he said. “I wrote to tell meaningful stories.” Even though his songs weren’t commercial and often weren’t played on the radio, people still connected with his music. “Not everything needed to be escape music,” he said. “I wrote because I was upset (at current events) even though it wasn’t considered healthy for a musical career.”

He said Gabriel García Márquez called him a “cronista.” Blades agrees. He said he always thought of himself as a “newspaper man” chronicling life through his songs. He credits his grandmother who taught him how to read at an early age for being a voracious reader. It’s what he said helped him develop his own songwriting and editing style. He also credits law school for learning how to see both sides of a story and writing based on facts. “Never think that the audience doesn’t get it,” he said.

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The ability to relate to his lyrics, he said, has helped new generations embrace his music. In the next chapter of his career, Blades plans to focus on recording music and has several projects in progress such as a son Cubano album, as well as a rock/pop/reggae album. He’s co-written a screenplay with Cuban writer Leonardo Padura and hopes to team up with René Pérez Joglar, also known as Residente for a album about social commentary.

Although his career might have taken a different path, Blades said he’ll keep moving forward.

‘Chavela,’ doc highlights tequila-drinking, rebel music icon

Legendary musical icon Chavela Vargas. Photo ©Maj Lindström

The raw passion and profound suffering that came through in the songs she sang could easily cleanse the soul. Those who attended the performances of Mexican music legend Chavela Vargas often described her concerts like a therapy session. So it’s no wonder that the documentary “Chavela” chronicling her life has the same power as she once did.

Vargas, a world renowned, Grammy-winning icon, tore down barriers for women in the late 1940s with her gut-wrenching ranchera music. By the 1950s, she was a staple in Mexico City’s bohemian club scene romancing the likes of Frida Kahlo. Vargas challenged the mainstream by wearing pants instead of dresses and refused to change the pronouns in songs intended for men to woo women.

“Chavela,” which screens at the AFS Cinema through Dec. 28, brings to life never-before-seen footage shot by co-director Catherine Gund in the 1990s. “For me, Chavela’s life is not a cautionary tale, but rather, a rich subterranean dimension of our own living,” Gund wrote in her director’s statement. “She is not a role model, but a muse. Not only an elder, but a frame for our contemporary desires.”

Chavela spent more than a decade outside of the limelight as she struggled with a drinking addiction, then had a remarkable comeback late in life. Renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who helped relaunch her career, is also featured in the moving documentary.

Don’t miss the opportunity to watch the film. Cine Las Americas members receive $2 off admission of tickets purchased at the AFS box office. On Jan. 2, the film will be available on DVD and digital. To pre-order, visit

The documentary “Chavela” highlights the life of iconoclastic, game-changing artist Chavela Vargas. Photo ©Ysunza

Robert Rodriguez to celebrate 25th anniversary of ‘El Mariachi’

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez will participate in a Q&A after the screening of his film “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” at the AFS Cinema.

With just $7,000, filmmaker Robert Rodríguez shot the 1992 indie classic film “El Mariachi,” which launched his career and set him on a trailblazing path.

With films such as “Sin City” and the “Spy Kids” series, Rodríguez has helped boost the visibility of diverse characters on the big screen and opened the doors for Latinos in television with his channel “El Rey.”

The Austin Film Society on Dec. 2 will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of “El Mariachi” with a rare marathon screening of what’s called the full Mexico trilogy — “El Mariachi,” “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” A Q&A with Rodríguez will follow the final film. The evening at the AFS Cinema will be capped with a special after party featuring a live performance by Rodríguez and his band, Chingón.

The Austin Film Society will host a marathon of three Robert Rodriguez films in honor of the 25th anniversary of the movie “El Mariachi.”

Rodríguez has lots to celebrate. The AFS advisory board member also wrapped up the filming of his reality show “Rebel Without a Crew.” The show challenges five emerging filmmakers to shoot a movie with the same money and time constraints that Rodríguez had 25 years ago with “El Mariachi.”

Tickets for the entire event cost $75 and $65 for Austin Film Society members. Individual movie or party tickets are also available at austinfilm.org. Catch “El Mariachi” at 2 p.m.; “Desperado” at 4:15 p.m. and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” at 6:30 p.m. After party begins at 8 p.m.

Lesly Reynaga goes from ‘Mariachi Girl’ to pop-rock artist

Photo contributed by Lemonade Photography

Rising Austin-based artist Lesly Reynaga gained recognition in the Live Music Capital of the World as a featured soloist of the University of Texas Mariachi Paredes de Tejastitlán. Her skills were also showcased in the 2012 ZACH Theatre/Teatro Vivo musical “Mariachi Girl.” Now, Reynaga’s bilingual pop-rock grooves represent a new phase of her musical career.

The singer-songwriter on Nov. 2 debuted her five-song EP “Fool’s Paradise,” with a Day of the Dead album release party at 11 p.m at Barracuda (611 E. Seventh St.). The EP, which is available on Spotify, includes original songs as well as a cover of “Spanish Words” by Austin musician Charlie Sexton.

“Everyone goes through different stages in life that make you question your choices, and “Fool’s Paradise” is my take on facing such a challenge through my own individual experience,” Reynaga said. “I hope that my songs are able to convey the idea that to every moment of obscurity there is also light, and that no single individual is ever alone in the struggle of finding one’s self-identity. ”

“Fool’s Paradise” was produced by musician, composer and producer Michael Ramos at his Brown Recluse Studio. Ramos, of Charanga Cakewalk fame, has toured and recorded with artists such as Paul Simon and Shawn Colvin. In 2014, he teamed up with award-winning musician Gina Chavez for her Latin folk-pop album “Up.rooted.”

Following her album release, Reynaga – who is also the editor of TODO Austin – plans to perform in New York City.

RELATED: Check out Cultura blog for more cultural art events 

Selena to receive Hollywood Walk of Fame Star on Nov. 3

On the heels of a popular Google Doodle this week honoring Selena Quintanilla Pérez, the pop culture icon will now posthumously receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Nov. 3.

“Before there was JLo, Shakira or Beyoncé, there was a transformative female artist called Selena,” said Otto Padron, president of Meruelo Media and sponsor of the tribute, in a statement. “Selena is one of the most influential music icons of the 20th century. Her music, style and smile are timeless and now her star will grace (Hollywood, Calif.) forever.”

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce last summer selected to honor Selena in its recording category along with other performers including John Legend, Clarence Avant, Ice Cube, a posthumous honor for Jerry Goldsmith, Hall & Oates, *NSYNC and New Edition.

Selena performs at Hemisfair Plaza in San Antonio, TX, April 24, 1994. Photo by Sung Park / The Austin American-Statesman

RELATED: SELENA’S LEGACY LIVES ON

On Selena’s Facebook fan page, music lovers expressed a similar sentiment that the honor was long overdue. “A dream come true,” wrote fan Hadeer Sinawe. “She deserved this even before her death.”

RELATED: SELENA INFLUENCED STYLE, BEAUTY

Texas native Eva Longoria will join Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to proclaim Nov. 3 as official “Selena” Day in Los Angeles.

On March 31, 1995, Selena’s former fan club president Yolanda Saldivar fatally shot Selena at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi. But for many fans of the Tejano superstar, who was on the brink of crossing over to the English-language music market, Selena’s legacy lives on.

MORE LATINO CULTURAL ARTS: CULTURA EN AUSTIN

In honor of her Walk of Fame honor, check out our playlist of Selena songs: