Conjunto Los Pinkys: The Sound of Austin’s Eastside

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Originally an article I wrote for Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

CLP

Ever wondered what Austin’s East Sixth Street was like in the 1950’s? Isidro Samilpa and Chencho Flores are two musicians from Austin’s Chicano music scene whose careers started there—and are still thriving with weekly performances in the same area, at The White Horse!

Along with Javier Cruz (bass), Clemencia Zapata (drums), and Bradley Jaye Williams (bajo quinto, accordion, voz), these five make up Conjunto Los Pinkys, a traditional “conjunto” band founded in 1991. Conjunto is a Texas-Mexican style dance music which features the button accordion and bajo sexto. According to their Facebook page, “Many international and regional musical styles are represented in conjunto music, including the influence of the Spanish, German, Polish and Czech, American popular music, Mexican-Norteño ranchera, Colombian cumbia, waltz, redova, shotis, huapango, bolero, mambo and country two-step.”

Sounds like a lot all rolled into one sound, right? Well, that’s what makes the experience of seeing them live—and dancing to their music—so, so, so much fun. Don’t know how to dance? Neither do I. However, The White Horse does have a full service bar and there’s a high chance that an adorably wrinkled gentleman in a cowboy hat will ask you to dance and I dare you to say no. You won’t. Plus, just hanging out around the dance floor and watching other people dance (especially the older couples dressed in their Sunday bests) is a blast.

“The White Horse is one of the last places on 6th Street where this kind of culture now exists,” said bandleader Bradley Jaye Williams. “We are thankful to The White Horse for embracing this musical tradition and important aspect of the conjunto music scene—the community.”

Howdy Darrell, booking manager at The White Horse, said that although they are technically a honky-tonk bar, they wanted to include other genres and bands from the community. On the Sunday tardeada (which means afternoon party in Spanish), he said, “It’s a great get together and an important part of the diverse, eclectic musical community we have here in town.”

Conjunto Los Pinkys have recorded two CDs with Rounder Records and have performed at the Tejano-Conjunto Festival and Fiesta de las Flores in San Antonio, Accordion Kings in Houston, Del Rio Cinco De Mayo and Diez y Seis Celebration, The Johnstown Folk Festival in Pennsylvania, Day of the Dead in Birmingham as well as numerous clubs, dancehalls, weddings, anniversaries, quinceñera parties, and church bazaars.

Want more Los Pinkys? There’s a fantastic documentary that’s been made about them. They’re kind of a big deal. Two years ago, Austin’s local PBS-TV affiliate KLRU TV filmed the band at home, on the job, in the recording studio, and at their weekly Sunday dance at The White Horse for seven weeks. The 26-minute documentary “Tardeadas” has aired around the country and is available on KLRU’s website.

Stop into The White House this Sunday Funday for some live music, a cold beer, and a Bomb Taco from the food truck in their back patio area. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be brave enough to dance—the accordion starts at five!

About the author: Alysha Kaye is a high school English teacher in Kyle, TX and recent author—her debut novel The Waiting Room is available on Amazon and at BookPeople. When she’s not wrangling 9th graders, she’s blogging, reading, or exploring Austin.

For more, follow her on Twitter @alyshakaye7 or check out her website: http://www.alyshakaye.com

 

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