SAN BENITO — The Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame inducted five new members during the 15th annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday night in San Benito, Texas, the birthplace of Conjunto music.
Five Conjunto stars were part of the 2016 class, including singer and accordionist David Farias, musician, educator and co-founder of the Tejano Conjunto Festival Juan Tejeda, Conjunto Madrigal bandleader June P. Garcia, Los Fantasmas del Valle member Julian Figueroa, and Los Pobres vocalist and accordionist Juan Tovar.
All join other Conjunto pioneers who are credited with capturing the spirit and dedication to this classic genre of musical entertainment.
The Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum, founded in 2001, works to promote, preserve, archive, document, and display the history of regional conjunto music by honoring those who create it.
Learn more about the five inductees for 2016 below.
At age 8, he began playing professionally with the family band, Los Hermanos Farías.
Farías left La Tropa F in 2006, joining bajo sexto guitarist Max Baca as accordionist for Los Texmaniacs. Using jazz and blues licks to diversify their conjunto sound, the band toured the world playing for American troops abroad.
Juan Tejeda, an accordionist and vocalist for the Conjunto Aztlan, was born in 1953.
For 20 years, he was the Chicano music program director for San Antonio’s Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center where he created the internationally-recognized Tejano Conjunto Festival.
At the Guadalupe he also created and implemented community classes in Conjunto music and mariachi.
In 2002, as a professor at Palo Alto College in San Antonio he began directing the first college-level Conjunto program in the United States.
With Conjunto Aztlan, he traces his musical history to the Chicano Movement in 1977, when he took on the mission of heritage-based music education that has led him to write and lecture extensively on the history of Tejano and Conjunto music.
Julian Figueroa, a member of Los Fantasmas del Valle for 45 years, sang and played bajo sexto.
Born in 1945 in Mercedes, he dropped out of school in fifth grade to do migrant farm work with his parents. His lifelong friendship with Hector Barrón, also of Los Fantasmas, began in the mid-1950s.
In 1968 Figueroa and Barrón formed a band. Their name became Los Fantasmas del Valle during the recording of the song “Mis Pasos Andaran,” a ghostly tune about a man who dies and returns to haunt his girlfriend. Their most famous recording effort came in 1981, “Bellos Recuerdos,” a song that narrates the life of a farm worker during the 1940s.
JUNE P. GARCIA
June P. García, a bandleader for Conjunto Madrigal from Taft, Texas, Manuel P. García is better known as June P. García.
According to his parents, his love for music started at the age of 11 months when he began humming the tune to “Juan Charrasqueado.”
García joined El Conjunto Madrigal in 1964 when he was hired to sing songs in English. He progressed to duets in Spanish and in 1978, he took over the band.
A self-taught musician, he plays bajo sexto and sings. Many of the songs by Conjunto Madrigal are June P.’s originals. Along with performing Spanish classics like “Cruz de Olvido” and “La Mucura,” he still performs rock-and-roll oldies.
Juan Tovar, a vocalist and front man for Los Pobres, is from Brownsville.
At 15, he began singing professionally with the Conjunto band Los Falcones. Tovar says that he learned a lot of his musical discipline from listening to Freddy Gómez, who sang with Los Dinámicos, a band led by Tovar’s uncle.
One of his most successful recording efforts was “No Me Se Rajar” which he recorded in 1983 with Falcón Records.
Tovar served in the U.S. Army and did a tour of duty in Vietnam. From 1984 to 1994, he taught physical education at Canales Elementary School in Brownsville.
SOURCE: Valley Morning Star