Los Pinkys, El Sol y la Luna, November 5
El Sol y la Luna, November 5 "It's polka time!" came the amplified introduction from Bradley Jaye Williams, one of two multi-instrumental vocalists in Los Pinkys. Together with Isidro Samilpa, the two form the frontline of this stalwart conjunto quartet, a South Austin band also familiar with conjunto's cousins: cumbia, ranchera, bolero, and Norteño. Still, Los Pinkys' primary target was conjunto, an indigenous music almost as old as Texas itself, a form featuring accordion, drums, bass, and bajo sexto, Mexico's answer to Leadbelly's 12-string. A mix of regional Mexican styles and European musical styles, which introduced the accordion to Texas, conjunto is dance music, a polka. The band was warmed up by the fourth tune, a floating number that sounded like "Cachito de mi Corazon," from Los Pinkys' 1994 Rounder debut, ¡Seguro Que Si! There are other suitable Latin establishments in town, but it'd be hard to imagine a better home for this music than El Sol y la Luna. In this South Austin food heaven, Spanish words waft in the air like the aroma of homemade food, while the establishment's luscious sangria is decidedly weekend-strength. Singers Samilpa and Williams got heads-ups from entering patrons, the rhythm section keeping it all crisp and tasty. Drummer Augie Arreola and bassist Chris Cruz made the quickest runs appear effortless, like the requested cumbia "Rose Maria." Cumbias, Selena's specialty, originate from the northern part of South America, and are distinguished by their relaxed rhythm and on-the-down-beat cowbell. The band played a determined path, locking into one tune and then another. In all, they performed a few dozen songs in their two-hourish set, including requests, tight instrumentals, and cuts from their second Rounder release, the 1996 Esta Pasion, and Williams' brand new Tex-Mex Gumbo. Bands with smaller cojones might have taken a set break, but Los Pinkys' idea of a break was the pause it took for Samilpa and Williams to exchange instruments. In a more bar-like setting, there would have been dancing; it's hard not to move when pumping accordion and duet singing meet snap-bean snare beats and a bass line so tight you could walk on it. Still, as the evening wore on, more folks came in and the applause became more spirited, thanks in part to former Bad Liver Ralph White and local troubadour Daniel Johnston, who added claps. You would have too.
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