Austin remembers Selena

Events honoring César Chávez; music festivals bring Latin/Tejano rhythms


On the way to a junior high school field trip, I snagged one of the window seats on our yellow school bus, put on my headphones and excitedly pressed play on my Walkman. I had recently saved enough cash to buy Selena’s “Amor Prohibido” cassette, and so when a classmate asked what I was listening to, I proudly flashed the tape cover featuring the Tejano star’s image.

It will have been 20 years since the death of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez on March 31, but her music and legacy live on in the hearts of fans who watched her rise to fame and hoped to see her reach superstardom as a crossover artist.

Growing up in the small border town of Eagle Pass, I remember seeing the signs for “Selena y Los Dinos” outside the ballrooms where she played frequent weekend shows. Tejano music was hot at the time but dominated by mostly male artists. Quintanilla-Pérez infused the Tejano music scene with energy, invigorating the music with a contemporary edge that spoke to a new generation.

But most importantly to me, she offered hope to young Mexican-American girls. Here was someone who looked like the women around me, who spoke like people I knew, who was also from South Texas and was proving that she could be successful and accepted beyond the region. So when one of my schoolmates rushed into class to alert us of the shocking news of her death, it stunned us all.

As the nation remembers Quintanilla-Pérez’s life, fans are honoring her legacy in different ways. On March 14, the Austin360 Rock the Lot two-day free festival will feature music by the Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda, among others. Singer Stephanie Bergara, who also serves as a music programs specialist with the city of Austin’s music division, leads the local group. Bidi Bidi Banda’s performance begins at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Austin American-Statesman’s west parking lot. For more details, visit rockthelot.austin360.com.

In April, Quintanilla-Pérez would have celebrated her 44th birthday, and some fans are honoring the cultural icon then. On April 10, local art group Puro Chingón Collective will present an interactive screening of the film “Selena” as part of Fusebox Festival’s 2015 ThinkEast series. Guests who attend the 8 p.m. screening at 1036 Jain Lane will receive a bag of props to be used at key moments throughout the movie. Visit fuseboxfestival.com/festival/selena for more information.

Celebrating César Chávez

As we become more aware of where our food comes from and how it’s grown, let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands of migrant farmworkers who call Texas home and help nourish you and your family by laboring in the fields and canneries across the United States.

Every meal has a story, and when labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez advocated for migrant farmworker rights, he was also trying to ensure that all Americans have a safe food supply.

In March, Chávez’s efforts will be honored across the country with everything from marches to film screenings. In Austin, community members are invited to gather on March 28 for the annual “Sí Se Puede” March. Attendees will assemble at Terrazas Library (1105 E. Cesar Chavez St.) at 10 a.m. and march to City Hall Plaza, where there will be music, speakers and entertainment. Paul Chávez, the son of the late labor leader, will be this year’s guest speaker.

Learn more about Cesar Chávez and the Mexican-American/Latino civil rights movement with free documentary screenings at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center at 7 p.m. March 12-13 at the Black Box Theatre. Visit austintexas.gov/esbmacc for more details.

Free music during SXSW

While the crowds descend on downtown during South by Southwest, there are two festivals 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 18-21, where music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the Mexican American Experience festival. Sunny and the Sunliners, which was the first Tejano music group to appear on “American Bandstand,” headlines on Wednesday night. Other featured artists that evening include Mariachi Amor, Cañonazo, Street People and Latin Express.

On Thursday, San Antonio native and Tejano music star Chente Barrera wraps up the fest after performances by Tejano Idol contest winner Erica Rangel, Beyond Therapy, Llueve and Baraja de Oro.

The hip-shaking music continues after the Mexican American Experience festival ends and the Pan Americana Festival begins on March 20. Master accordionist and party instigator Celso Piña returns this year to headline Friday night. Nicknamed “El Rebelde del Acordeón” (Accordion Rebel), Piña created a hybrid cumbia sound that incorporated reggae, hip-hop, ska and rock. Also bringing innovative genre-blending sounds will be San Antonio’s Piñata Protest, who play accordion-style punk music.

Monterrey electronic rockers Kinky return to the festival as well, this time headlining Saturday night. Los Masters Plus and Austin’s Cilantro Boombox will also energize the stage. For a complete listing of bands, check out facebook.com/PanAmericanaFestival.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360

Making turkey soup this weekend? Here’s our family’s favorite homemade noodle recipe
Making turkey soup this weekend? Here’s our family’s favorite homemade noodle recipe

I can think of few comfort foods I love more than my family’s chicken and noodles. Homemade noodles can become the star of any soup, but they particularly shine with leftover turkey and homemade stock. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman My mom learned how to make handmade noodles from one of my dad’s co-workers in the 1990s...
Here are 10 Texas whiskeys you might want on your holiday wish list
Here are 10 Texas whiskeys you might want on your holiday wish list

Kentucky isn’t the only state in the U.S. making top-of-the-line whiskey. Texas may not have been doing it for as long as America’s bourbon bastion, but our proud state has proven that we can still hold our own against legacy producers — perhaps in part because the whiskey industry here is still so young and willing to be adventurous...
2017 Beaujolais Nouveau wine label is created by a St. Petersburg artist
2017 Beaujolais Nouveau wine label is created by a St. Petersburg artist

Every year, there are bad things we can count on: taxes and death. And good things: Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November and on the Thursday before, the Beaujolais nouveau arrives. What is less predictable is just how this vin de l'annee ("this year's wine") stacks up. Every now and then the young gamay from the Beaujolais...
Holiday gift guide: Food
Holiday gift guide: Food

These gifts will satisfy the appetites of the food and drink lovers on your list. The nubby handles take a little getting used to, but they encourage a proper knife grip by directing the hand into the proper position and enabling fingers to lock in the front and back. The forged steel eight-inch chef's knife and 3.5-inch paring knife slice cleanly...
Of pints and predators: inside the U.K. Parliament’s boozy hangouts
Of pints and predators: inside the U.K. Parliament’s boozy hangouts

LONDON — A plaque on a wall at the Sports and Social Club, a dingy and stuffy bar located next to garbage cans in the basement of the Houses of Parliament in London, reads: “The Code of the Man Cave. What happens here stays here! Violators will be shot — survivors will be shot again.” That jokey warning took on serious undertones...
More Stories