Independent Tex-Mex Music
Tex-Mex or Tejano (Spanish for "Texan") music is the name given to various forms of folk and popular music originating among the Hispanic-descended Tejanos of Central and South Texas. In recent years artists such as La Mafia, Selena Quintanilla, Emilio Navaira, and Selena's brother A.B. Quintanilla's band, Los Kumbia Kings, have transformed Tejano music from primarily a local, ethnic form of music to a genre with wide appeal in North America, Latin America, Europe, and beyond.
Alice, Texas has long been recognized as "The Birthplace of Tejano" dating back to the mid 1940s when Armando Marroquin, Sr. of Alice and partner Paco Bentacourt of San Benito, Texas launched what was to be the first home based recording company to record Tejano artists exclusively. Ideal Records, which was based in Alice, under the direction of Marroquin became the perfect vehicle for Tejano groups and artists to get their music to the public. Marroquin, who also owned and operated a jukebox company, insured that Ideal recordings would be distributed throughout South Texas. The songs recorded, which were contributed by Tejano and Mexican composers, became very popular through jukeboxes placed in restaurants, cantinas or any other establishment that would have them, and the then very scarce Spanish language radio programs.
Central to the evolution of early Tejano music was the blend of traditional forms such as the Corrido and Mariachi, and Continental European styles, such as Polka, introduced by German and Czech settlers in the late 19th century. In particular, the accordion was adopted by Tejano folk musicians at the turn of the 20th century, and it became a popular instrument for amateur musicians in Texas and Northern Mexico. Small bands known as orquestas, featuring amateur musicians, became a staple at community dances.
In the 1950s and 1960s, rock and roll and country music made inroads, and electric guitars and drums were added to conjunto combos. Also, performers such as Little Joe added both nuances of jazz and R&B, and a Chicano political consciousness. The 1960s and '70s brought a new fusion of cultures. Popular Tejano musician and producer Paulino Bernal of the legendary Conjunto Bernal discovered and introduced to the Tejano music scene the norteno band Los Relampagos Del Norte with Ramon Ayala and Cornelio Reyna on his Bego Records. His Tejano infuence on their early recordings popularized this hot new act all the way until their breakup in the mid 1970s. Ramon Ayala still enjoys success on both sides of the border. Cornelio Reyna enjoyed a very successful career as an actor and singer and resurfaced in the Tejano scene with a major hit with his collaboration with Tejano artist La Mafia.
Tejano music has various categories of music and bands. Three major categories are Conjunto, Orchestra and Modern. A Conjunto band is comprised of accordion, bajo sexto, bass, and drum. Examples of Conjunto Bands are Esteban "Steve" Jordan, The Hometown Boys and Jaime de Anda y Los Chamacos. An Orchestra consists of bass, drum, electric guitar, synthesizer, and a brass section on which it relies heavily for its sound. It can also have an accordion in the band at times. An example of an Orchestra is Ruben Ramos and the Texas Revolution. A Modern Tejano band consists of synthesizers, drums, electric guitar, bass and at times an accordion. It relies heavily on the synthesizer for its sound. Modern bands are Selena and her band Selena Y Los Dinos, Shelly Lares, Jay Perez, and Jimmy Gonzalez Y Mazz. Other categories consist of Progressive, Pop and Urban Tejano music. All of these categories are classified as Tejano.
In the last few years or so there has been an increasing Mexican influence on Tejano music resulting in a sound more like Norteno. The Accordion, while a historically popular instrument in Tejano music, has gone from a secondary or specialty instrument to a "must have" instrument. Today, groups like Los Chamacos, Sunny Sauceda, Eddie Gonzalez, and La Tropa F emphasize the accordion.
The term Tex-Mex is also used in American rock and roll for Tejano-influenced performers such as the Sir Douglas Quintet; Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs; The Mars Volta; Sunny and the Sunliners; Louie and the Lovers; The Champs with "Tequila"; the Texas Tornados, featuring Flaco Jiménez, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyers, and Doug Sahm; Ceceilia with Viva Texas and Los Lonely Boys.