Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos
9:15pm, Pavilion Stage
Roberto Pulido doesn't talk the way he sings. The Edinburg native, who's been performing Tejano music since "19 throw it away," speaks with a comforting cadence that's part Texas twang, part supple yawn of a wood floor, with a spark of pickled jalapeño. But when he sings – wow. He's been singing and performing for 37 years, but his self-described high-pitched voice is powerful and as bright as a brand-new penny.
He's uncomfortable being called the king of Tejano music, though his fans might disagree.
"It would be fair to say that we started the style that now a lot of musicians use también," he says cautiously in a phone interview. "Like the violins and keyboards and the horns. We did that in '74. We were experimenting. When people ask me to describe my music, I say we're like guacamole, with a little bit of this and a little bit of that."
Pulido's style has been called a hybrid, because he extends conjunto music (traditionally, bajo sexto, accordion, and sometimes an upright bass or an additional guitar or percussion) to include the aforementioned instruments but not – and this is important – with the synthesized sound or flashy theatrics that have come to characterize a lot of contemporary Tejano music. Pulido's use of electricity is to amplify, not electrify.
Because Tejano music is hard to find on mainstream radio, some lament its future. Pulido's not worried.
"It might be down, but it's not out," he says. – Belinda Acosta