Tag Archives: mexican

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

 

The Keiki

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Gangstas v. Surfers

I have officially accepted a teaching job in Texas. You’d think I’d be ecstatic, right? A solid job to move back home to, back to the land of delicious Mexican food, sweet tea, and floating the river. I’ll finally get to be roommates with my best friend, I’ll finally keep a job for longer than two years…

But honestly, there’s something bothering me that I can’t quite shake. It’s not the fact that I’m leaving paradise—perfect weather, perfect tan (see I Heard This Place is Hard to Leave). It’s the keiki, man.

The kids.

I’ve been pampered for the last two years. My students might drive me crazy, but they freakin’ adore me. The biggest issue I’ve ever had is their lack of motivation…and I don’t blame them. I’d rather go to the beach than do homework too.

I remember what the kids were like in school back home. Also, I’m allowed to talk shit about the ghetto Mexicans and the white trash since I am both Mexican and white. Boom. Please remember that for the rest of this blog…

Those two types of people make up a LARGE percent of the population. Rednecks and gang members, knife fights at lunch, “pinche” being every other word out of most of their mouths, and a huge teen pregnancy problem. Ah, Tejas.

While this is an exaggeration, it’s only a slight exaggeration. So basically, I’m scared.

I spent 22 years in Texas, surrounded by a large Hispanic population, most of whom I was probably related to. But as for teaching experience? I’ve taught approximately two Hispanic kids in the past two years. Here in Central Oahu, the student population is comprised of SO many different ethnicities—Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino, Samoan, Micronesian, Chuukese, Tongan, Korean, Chinese, and more. They’re so mixed that most of them don’t even know what to check for race on surveys. They think it’s weird that I’m “only two things” and they don’t tease each other about being “too much” of something or “not enough” of something else.

Duh, there’s still racism and homophobia and bullying and drug abuse and all those other terrible things that happen everywhere.

But I swear, Hawaii’s kids are probably the most tolerant human beings in the U.S. It’s all aloha and shaka and howzit and bruddah and sistah and auntie… it’s kind of crazy how happy people are here. Oh wait, the sun shines every day. There are rainbows every day.

The kids I went to school with would beat these kids to a pulp and then tattoo something about it on their necks. Or they’d tie my kids to cows and pour Lonestar all over them. The white kids I went to school with would call my kids Mexicans and when my kids would try to explain that they’re actually a Hawaiian-Japanese-Filipino, they’d say, “Whatever, you’re brown, so you’re Mexican.” The Mexicans I went to school with would call my kids wannabe Mexicans.

I could go on and on, trashing and exaggerating about the kind of kids I went to school with (reminder: I’m allowed), but what I’m getting at is I DON’T WANT TO TEACH TEXAS KIDS, I WANT TO TEACH HAWAII KIDS…BUT IN TEXAS.

Sigh.

Will I be facing a major culture shock? It’s kind of ironic, I realize. I was born and raised in the area, I’m obviously super familiar with the Hispanic culture. But teaching is a different story. I’ve finally reached a point where I feel qualified to teach Hawaiian mythology and “local, Pidgin kine poetry”. I feel comfortable discussing and analyzing the differences and similarities of Asian cultures. I’ve finally mastered the stereotypes, resentments, and unspoken bonds between these groups here—it’s been incredibly hard.

So will my teaching suffer?

Will it be like my first year all over again?

What about my ELL kids? Will I know how to accommodate them? Is it the same?

I know that this entire blog is probably a huge freak-out, completely uncalled for and unnecessary. I’ll adapt, I’ll be fine, and my memory about how horrible all the kids were is probably extremely blurry and skewed. Let’s be real, I only remember one knife fight in my 13 years of schooling.

Every culture is unique, and I know how important it is to learn about my students’ cultures and incorporate them into my work, but does every culture require some sort of special, secret teaching skill? No, of course not. Teaching with love, passion, and curiosity is across the board—that’s all I need…which is good, because sometimes I feel like that’s all I have to offer as a teacher.

Hopefully, my Mexican kids will love me just as much as my little mixed plate loco mocos do here. Hopefully they won’t judge me based on the fact that my Spanish is only at an intermediate level (only when I’m drunk). At least I know all the bad words, that’ll be helpful.

I will adapt and I will do it FAST, just like I did here. I still remember the first time I tried poke and spam musubi, thinking they looked like the most disgusting things I’d ever seen. Look at me now—using chop sticks like a pro and giving directions like a local.

I still say flip-flops, not slippahs. Not budging on that one.

I’ll miss this place and I’ll miss these people so much. I don’t think I’ll ever love my students more than I love these, my Hawaii babies, my keiki. But you never know. All I can do is try.