Tejano music legend Jimmy Gonzalez dies

Tejano music legend and Grammy award-winner Jimmy Gonzalez died Wednesday. He was 67.

Jimmy Gonzalez y Grupo Mazz was scheduled to perform as headliners this weekend in Aransas Pass. The Brownsville native was admitted to a San Antonio hospital early Wednesday morning following a brief illness when he died, according to a news release from record label Freddie Records. Earlier this year KXTN-Radio reported Gonzalez was taken to the emergency room following breathing issues.

Gonzalez co-founded the legendary Grupo Mazz in 1978. The trailblazing Tejano band group rose to stardom and garnered numerous accolades and hit songs including “Estúpido Romántico.” Gonzalez played various musical roles over the years including producer, guitarist, vocalist and frontman.

More: Dancing into Tejano music history

In the late 1990s, Gonzalez formed Jimmy Gonzalez y Grupo Mazz and joined Freddie Records. His latest album “Porque Todavía Te Quiero” released in April. Gonzalez won a record six consecutive Latin Grammys for Best Tejano Album.

“The legacy of Jimmy Gonzalez will continue to live forever through his unforgettable music, his incredible artistry,” Freddie Records said in a news release, “and his many contributions to the Tejano music industry.”

Here’s your chance to catch Little Joe y La Familia for free

Tejano music icon Little Joe Hernandez will perform at the Pan Americana Festival 2018. (Photo credit: Jorge Flores)

It’s not every day that you can check out a musical living legend for free, but tonight Little Joe y La Familia will headline the Pan Americana Festival at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (600 River St.).

Saturday’s concert, which starts at 5 p.m., will wrap up four days of free Tejano music at the cultural center presented by the Mexican American Experience Wednesday and Thursday and the Pan Americana Festival Friday and Saturday during South by Southwest week.

RELATED: How Austin women helped make a classic Little Joe album cover

Before Little Joe y La Familia hits the stage, festivalgoers can also catch Tejano music giant David Marez, past Tejano Idol winner Ashley Borrero and former Los Texas Wranglers vocalist Nikki Lopez.

Aside from free admission, the Pan Americana Festival offers free parking at Fiesta Gardens.  Shuttles for attendees will run to and from the MACC from 5 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. when the concert ends.

SXSW News: Latina artist Gina Chavez led flash mob dance party on Sixth Street

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MACC to host four days of free Tejano music during SXSW

Little Joe y La Familia will headline the Pan Americana Festival at the MACC. Photo contributed by Henry Huey for Round Rock Leader.

You don’t need a badge, wristband or even cash to check out some of Tejano music’s biggest stars like Little Joe y La Familia and AJ Castillo during South by Southwest this year. Just head to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center from March 14-17 for free music with a lakeside view.

For years the Mexican American Experience and Pan Americana Festivals, which take place during the week of South by Southwest but are not part of that festival, have offered music lovers the opportunity to check out diverse Latin music of all kinds. For the first time this year, the two back-to-back festivals are offering four days of Tejano music programming.

Aside from free admission, both festivals offer free parking at Sanchez Elementary, Martin Middle School and Fiesta Gardens. Free shuttles run from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. when the concerts end.

RELATED: How a 1972 concert became part of iconic Tejano music album cover

Tejano music legend Jay Perez will headline the Mexican American Experience, which is presented by the MACC and Crossroads Events, on March 14. Other performers include Grammy-nominated vocalist Stefani Montiel and rising artist Devin Banda.

AJ Castillo is among the headliners at the Mexican American Experience Festival.

Tejano music star A.J. Castillo returns to the Mexican American Experience festival this year to headline the March 15 showcase. Other performers include San Antonio-based group Jaime DeAnda Los Chamacos and Yayo Castillo y Rumores.

At the Pan Americana Festival, musical heavyweights Ricardo Castillon y La Diferenzia headline the March 16 concert. The Jorge Amayo Band, Angie Gonzalez and a mariachi group to be announced will round out the performers that evening.

Tejano music icon Little Joe y La Familia will headline the festivities on March 17. Veteran performer David Marez, past Tejano Idol winner Ashley Borrero and former Los Texas Wranglers vocalist Nikki Lopez will wrap up the festival.


Rancho Alegre Radio launches Tejano, Conjunto weekly music series at One-2-One Bar

Conjunto Puro Corazón will be featured in the latest Rancho Alegre Radio and Austin Vida weekly music series.

After breaking significant musical barriers this spring by launching a two-day conjunto music festival in downtown Austin, Rancho Alegre Radio continues its mission to make the roots music accessible to all audiences.

The nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to promoting and preserving Tejano and Conjunto music, has teamed up with Latin music promoters Austin Vida to launch a weekly Sunday music series at the One-2-One Bar on South Lamar Boulevard. On July 23, music lovers can check out Conjunto Puro Corazón, a San Antonio-based group featuring at least six accordionists. The tardeada (afternoon or early evening social) kicks off at 6 p.m.

“(The series is) a perfect fit for us and for fans of these pure Texas music genres,” said Rancho Alegre Radio’s Piper LeMoine. The nonprofit recently won a WeWork Creator Award, which honored innovators, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations and individuals creating inspiring work with an $18,000 grant. The award will allow the organization “to continue growing and advocating for this pure Texas music,” LeMoine said.

Cover for the Sunday tardeada show will be $5. To learn about upcoming Sunday performances, visit ranchoalegreradio.org.

MORE CULTURAL ARTS: Check out the Cultura en Austin blog 

Where to celebrate Selena’s birthday in Austin

Queen of Tejano music and pop culture icon Selena Quintanilla Pérez would have turned 46 this weekend. In Austin, the celebrations in her honor began earlier this month with everything from an interactive screening of the “Selena” film at Fusebox Festival to the annual TuezGayz Selena tribute party at Barbarella.

But Austinites can still celebrate with more festivities from trivia night to dance contests leading up to her April 16 birthday. Last month marked the 22nd anniversary of Selena’s death and her legacy is still growing strong. Selena received numerous posthumous awards recently including a Madame Tussauds wax figure,  a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a spot on the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.


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

Last fall, MAC Cosmetics launched a limited-edition “Selena” makeup collection that drew scores of fans to MAC retail stores across the country. Here’s a look at some Austin events where you can keep her memory alive.

Selena Movie Parties at Alamo Drafthouse

April 13: Alamo Drafthouse Village Only a few tickets left for the 7:30 p.m. show, so hurry up and buy online if you want to watch the film here.

April 15: Alamo Drafthouse Ritz at 11:45 a.m.

April 16: Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline at 12:35 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.; Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar at 1:15 p.m.; Slaughter Lane at 12:15 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.

April 20: Alamo Drafthouse Ritz at 10 p.m.


Other Selena celebrations: 

April 15: Selena Tribute at Sahara Lounge with Son de Rey

April 16: SelenaFest! at The Highball (1120 S Lamar Blvd.) will celebrate the Queen of Tejano music with performances from Austin-based Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda and Su Madre plus cumbia dance lessons, and a Selena lookalike and dance contest.

April 17: Selena Trivia at Dog & Duck Pub (2400 Webberville Road) It’s free to play at this event hosted by Get it Gals, but teams shouldn’t exceed six people.

A mural dedicated to Selena, the late Tejano star and cultural icon, is located along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail in South Austin. (Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman)


  • It takes about 1,500 rhinestones for Stephanie Bergara, lead singer of Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda, to complete a Selena-style bustier.
  • In 2012, Selena’s husband, Chris Perez, released his book, “To Selena, With Love.”
  • The Selena museum in Corpus Christi was built in 1998 by the Quintanilla family.
  • Selena appeared in the Mexican soap opera “Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.”

After El Gallo closure, Little Mexico picks up Manuel “Cowboy” Donley

Manuel ‘Cowboy’ Donley performs with his daughter, Sylvia Donley, at El Gallo on Tuesday, January 24, 2017. The Tejano music legend had been a fixture at the South Austin restaurant for years.  DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Over the years, fans of Tejano music legend Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, 89, knew that if they wanted to find him, they could drop by South Austin’s El Gallo restaurant on Tuesday evenings to hear the classic boleros and songs of yesteryear like “Solamente Una Vez.” He’d been playing on and off at El Gallo for more than 40 years until the restaurant closed in January. Aside from missing El Gallo’s popular dishes, loyal customers wondered where Manuel “Cowboy” Donley would perform next.

RELATED: Customers mourn loss of El Gallo Restaurant 

Manuel ‘Cowboy’ Donley performs with his daughter, Sylvia Donley. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Now music lovers can find him and his daughter and musical partner, Sylvia Donley, performing at Little Mexico Restaurant (2304 S. First St.) from 7-9 p.m. every Thursday.

Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, a National Endowment for the Arts’ lifetime achievement recipient, packed the house at El Gallo on his last performance there so much that the kitchen ran out of food shortly after 7:30 p.m. Throughout his career he helped popularize orquesta music, which blends Latin rhythms with popular American musical genres such as rock and jazz. He blazed a trail in the Mexican-American music community and has inspired many other musicians along the way.

RELATED: Manuel “Cowboy” Donley receives national honor

Although the Donleys were sad about no longer performing at El Gallo, Sylvia Donley says that Little Mexico has a “warm family feel” that reminds her of all the performances throughout the years at El Gallo.




Hillside concert series lineup at A.B. Cantu/Pan American Rec Center

Los Texas Wranglers are among the performers who will be featured at this summer's Hillside Concert Series.
Los Texas Wranglers are among the performers who will be featured at this summer’s Hillside Concert Series at the A.B. Cantu/Pan American Recreation Center. Photo contributed by Los Texas Wranglers

A longtime East Austin summertime tradition returns with the kickoff of the Hillside Concert Series at the A.B. Cantu/Pan American Recreation Center from 7-9 p.m. July 5. Performers for the first showcase include New Generation, cumbia and ranchera band Maria y Cien Grados and rising Tejano and cumbia band Cañonazo.

Free live music will fill the amphitheater every Tuesday in July. Other featured performers include Los Texas Wranglers on July 12 and Tortilla Factory on July 26.


Don’t miss the chance to check out this beloved neighborhood tradition, which brings together many families who often sit on blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the annual shows. For more details, click here.

Scheduled lineup of performers:

July 5: New Generation, Maria y Cien Grados, Cañonazo

July 12: Los Texas Wranglers, Phoebe Marie, David Farias

July 19: Conjunto Cats, Jonny Martinez y Grupo Bravo, Buddy Lonesome, Veronique Medrano

July 26: Marcos Orosco, Tortilla Factory


Austin remembers Tejano music legend Emilio Navaira

Tejano star Emilio Navaira has died in New Braunfels, Texas. He was 53. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, file)
Tejano star Emilio Navaira has died in New Braunfels, Texas. He was 53. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, file)

Tejano music legend Emilio Navaira, who rose to stardom in the 1980s and 1990s, died Monday in New Braunfels. He was 53.

The San Antonio native helped boost Tejano music’s popularity during the genre’s peak along with artists such as Selena. Later Navaira successfully crossed over to perform country music as well. Last fall, he headlined Austin’s Día de Los Muertos Festival.

“The Tejano industry has lost a major force,” said Baldomero Cuellar, founder and co-host of Rancho Alegre Radio on KOOP 91.7 FM. “Emilio was a major part of the 90s Tejano explosion, and he will be deeply missed.”

New Braunfels police and fire crews were sent to Navaira’s home at about 8:20 p.m. Monday after family members found Navaira unconscious and not breathing, according to a police report. First responders began life-saving measures before transporting Navaira to Resolute Health Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Although an autopsy is pending, the singer is believed to have died of natural causes, according to the report.

“There’s no replacing a legend,” said Ross Gomez, vice president of the Austin Tejano Music Coalition. Gomez remembers Navaira’s enthusiasm and support for the organization when Gomez had to the opportunity to briefly meet and tell him about the coalition’s work. Gomez says there are few artists who can go by just a first name, “but when someone (in the Tejano world) said ‘Emilio’ you knew exactly who that was.”

The Grammy award winner was the lead singer for David Lee Garza y los Musicales before forming his own band. In 2008, the singer almost died after a tour bus accident in Houston. Navaira suffered serious head injuries after being thrown through the windshield of the bus and pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge. Navaira managed to recover and made a career comeback.

“A sudden loss like this is especially tough for Tejano because this genre is like a small town,” said Piper LeMoine, Rancho Alegre Radio co-host. “The fans often get to know the musicians, even the superstars like Emilio, personally. We hire them to celebrate life events like weddings and quinceañeras. They’re at community events and church jamaicas…”

Gomez said you could always count on Navaira to give a great performance and was friendly to his fans while exuding a natural pizazz. “His music will live on forever because legends never die,” he said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.





Mexican American Experience Festival announces line-up

AJ Castillo will headline a show at the Mexican American Experience Festival.
A.J. Castillo will headline a show at the Mexican American Experience Festival. Photo by Julia Robinson

While the crowds descend on downtown during South by Southwest, there’s a festival where you can enjoy Tejano and Latin rhythms for free while taking in the city’s awe-inspiring lakeside views and festive atmosphere.

Head to the courtyard of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on March 16-17, where music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the Mexican American Experience festival. David Farias, who was the former leader of Tejano supergroup, La Tropa F, headlines on Wednesday night. Other featured artists that evening include Austin Music Award Winners A-T Boyz, Yayo Castillo y Rumores and Tejano Highway 281.

On Thursday, Tejano music star A.J. Castillo wraps up the festival. Performances earlier that evening will include Tejano Idol contest winner Monica Saldivar, singer-songwriter and accordion player Lucky Joe and rising star Angel Gonzalez y Vimana. Festival-goers can park at Martin Middle School and catch a free shuttle to the show.

For more information, click here.