“I’m going to be 73,” contemplated Santiago Jiménez Jr. on Monday. “Conjunto music will be here long after I pass.”
For decades, San Antonio’s accordion king has guarded genre tradition like the crown jewels. While his brother Flaco Jiménez “can do it all,” lacing the squeeze box into jazz/country/rock, the younger instrumentalist preserves the legacy of their father, Santiago Jiménez Sr., a conjunto pioneer. Forcefully plucked strings and tight-walked bass anchor frothing, rippling accordion swirls. It’s a formula garnering him Grammy nominations and a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
“I always wanted to be like my dad,” proclaims the Sunday co-headliner. “I would stare at him playing, and then he’d get on me for breaking his accordion while I tried playing it.”
Since Santiago and Flaco’s 1961 collaboration El Rey y el Principe de la Musica Norteña, and the former’s solo work including 1989’s Familia y Tradición to Corazón de Piedra three years later, Jiménez prefers the simple, jovial conjunto lineage traced by his father that deviates from Norteño music and modern fusions.
“My grandfather would take my dad to New Braunfels where he heard polkas and German music, and that’s where it began,” explains Jiménez. “I didn’t like going to school because I just wanted to practice and play what my dad played.”
Growing up in the predominantly Latino Westside of San Antonio, Santiago witnessed conjunto’s mainstreaming.
“Amazing to see how conjunto music has grown from polkas in New Braunfels to younger people embracing it, dancing to it, and hearing it on radios like Austin’s KOOP to keep it alive,” he awes. “Like my father said, ‘You either play it right or don’t play at all.’”– Alejandra Ramirez
St. Vitus doom pioneer Scott “Wino” Weinrich revived 1980 power trio the Obsessed for April’s biker jam Sacred, its first LP since 1994 and fourth overall. Instrumental West Virginia threepiece Karma to Burn lends sympathetic stoner support alongside Ohio widescreen metalheads Lo-Pan. Locals Crimson Devils and Cactus Druid open.– Michael Toland
Composed by Foot Patrol’s T.J. Wade, Blind Sight is the funked-up soundtrack of a fictional video game for the visually impaired. Final Off Center show, Wade performs with wondrous multi-instrumentalist D-Madness and Opposite Day bassist Greg Yancey in total darkness. Avant-rock troupe Brown Whörnet (aka Dark Whörnet) and industrial spelunkers Toxic Water open.– Greg Beets
Levitation won’t return until next year, but some 20 acts over three nights ease the blow. Homegrown Sun Ra acolytes Golden Dawn Arkestra curate Thursday with Colombian funkers Superfónicos and swirling ATX psych from Annabelle Chairlegs. Seattle garage R&B trippers Night Beats host Friday with all-star locals Holy Wave, A Giant Dog, and American Sharks. Cali prog poppers Mr. Elevator top Saturday.– Alejandra Ramirez
Lili Blessing’s delicate vocals envelope a room. Following in mother Sara Hickman’s footsteps, the native Austin singer-songwriter’s debut LP Lifeline bows gorgeous heartbreak, anti-abuse activism, and even Salvador Dalí. Youthful innocence emotes strikingly. “Hear me out,” she whimpers on “Running in Space.”– Isabella Castro-Cota