NARAS Latin Music Showcase
Reviewed by Belinda Acosta, Fri., March 14, 2003
NARAS Latin Music ShowcaseTown Lake Stage at Auditorium Shores, Thursday, March 13
Del Castillo may be this year's Austin Music Awards' Band of the Year. And David Lee Garza y los Musicales may have been what the black-hatted Tejano fans were waiting for. But it was Big Circo from Brownsville, Texas, (not Monterrey, Mexico, as has been reported) that got the throngs' attention at the now-annual free Latin Music Showcase at Auditorium Shores. When K-Eye anchor Fred Cantu introduced the band as doing a mix of Tejano and hip-hop, there was a noticeable "say what?" cock of black hats while others not in the know looked skeptical. But hey -- Austin's Walter Cronkite don't lie, right? The seven boys of Big Circo demand attention. Done up in black with clown-white payaso faces -- kind of like a cross between those Homies jester figures and KISS -- their rubbery, athletic energy did what is always a good sign at a show: It got the audience to surge forward and check them out. There was some kind of strange alchemy going on, the way Big Circo pulled off Tejano riffs, gliding effortlessly to hip-hop and back again. Cumbias seemed to be the favored musical foundation, though straight-ahead rancheras were present, both layered with a loping, faint reggae pulse or an occasional zydeco screech on the accordion as in "Yo No Fui" ("I Didn't Go"). And just when they got you all warmed up with that, a burst of hip-hop carnality got the young girls screaming. It was like foreplay, baby. Is there something in Brownsville's water that produces such extraordinary talent -- from the flamenco-y, guitar driven Del Castillo to the theatrical Big Circo? No se, but seeing such a broad array of talent at the Latin showcase -- which also included Dallas-based Tejano band Stampede -- is enough to convince anyone that Latino music of all hybrids is alive and well, kicking serious ass in Texas.