October 12, 2022

The inspiration for Tejas Got Soul

Sin duda, the heart and soul Tejanos put into everything is an inspiration for the Tejas Got Soul concert series that continues Sunday, Oct 23 from 5 – 7 pm. We take the rich traditions from both sides of the border, mix them together and make them our own. This concert series is about celebrating that heritage of innovation as a comunidad

In the mid 2000s, I began finding and playing this music as a DJ. Then, my friend Nick Gaitan and I organized events celebrating this period in Chicano music. We wanted to share not just the retro feel of the music, but the revolutionary realization of how this period in Chicano music developed. Our quest was rewarded by uncovering so many Houston groups and their stories – like Ricky Vee and the Stardusters, The Exiles, Marky Lee and the Swingers and many more.

The Tejas Got Soul team grew to include Roberto Rodriguez, Angel Quesada and Pat Jasper. We started to understand how little the story of Chicano music in Houston with all its many roots and branches, was known. As we worked, the connections between styles such as Chicano Soul and Orquesta, Conjunto and Tejano, Tejano and rock, and more, became clear.

In the first Tejas Got Soul Sundays concert, the headliners La Fiebre did their own thing – but that thing included serious nod to the horn-based sound of the early orquestas and the rock sounds of the 1980’s. 

Now, our second concert features a beloved family ensemble Los Monarcas de Pete and Mario Diaz and Grupo Fuerte, a straight-ahead homage to the Texas born-and-bred puro Conjunto sound. Combining the characteristic duo of the bajo sext (a 12 string guitar) with the accordion, conjunto is the ultimate dance music drawing on rhythms from near and far. 

The third concert with AVIZO on November 27 from 5 – 7 pm, is a full-on celebration of the Soul and Tejano sounds with tributes to three pioneers of the brown-eyed soul scene, Big Lu, Neto Perez and Rocky Gil. In the third blog for this series, we will go deep on these connections between Chicano sounds and black music. 

So join us at Tejas Got Soul Sundays. Andale!

Isaac “Simmer Down” Rodriguez, October 2022
Isaac is one of a team of five creatives that make up the Tejas Got Soul and Sonidos de Houston projects. The other team members are Nick Gaitan, Angel Quesada, Roberto Rodriguez and Pat Jasper. Follow Tejas Got Soul: Early Chicano Sounds of Houston