By: Ville Iso-Ahola
Los Texmaniacs, a Conjunto-influenced band from San Antonio, left fans in awe during its Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage performance on September 20. Led by Max Baca — the group’s lead singer and Baja-Sexto guitarist — the Grammy Award-winning group turned the Millennium Stage section of the Kennedy Center into a mini South Texan barn dance.
Los Texmaniacs’ music was mostly up-tempo, and they performed for an hour. The group’s stage show came to D.C. as part of the Kennedy Center’s free daily concert series.
Los Texmaniacs incorporates elements of jazz, rock-and-roll, and traditional Mexican Conjunto music. This creates a sound that both Latino and Non-Latino audiences alike can appreciate.
Furthermore, the evening began with Eduardo Diaz, Latino Center Director at the Smithsonian, introducing the band. He recognized Baca for donating a classic Baja-Sexto Guitar. Right from the start, the audience began to fill up space on the dance floor.
Los Texmaniacs performed as a four-piece. Baca was the lead vocalist and played the 12-string Baja-Sexto guitar, Daniel Martinez was on the drums, Noel Hernandez played the bass, and Josh Baca played the accordion.
During a set interlude, Baca explained how the Tex Mex style evolved with the use of an accordion and Baja-Sexto guitar. As Polish and German immigrants settled in South Texas, local musicians began to blend elements of traditional European folk music and Mexican Conjunto music.
Indeed, this would become the Tejano/Tex Mex style of the contemporary era. Baja said the left half of the accordion remains unused in Tex Mex music. However, the Baja Sexto guitar, which has six guitar strings and six bass strings, fills the gap. It helps to maintain a more traditional Mexican sound.
Moreover, Baca’s accordion provided a carnival-like soundscape. But the band’s rhythm section held down the groove quite well. The setlist included songs in both Spanish and English. And there were a few covers of famous rock and roll songs. Baja was the lead vocalist, and Hernandez and Baca were the backup vocalists.
Baca was the lead vocalist on a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” and on a cover of Fats Domino’s “Hello Josephine.”
Overall, Los Texmaniacs’ performance was exciting. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page.