Esteban 'Steve' Jordan Tribute
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Aug. 15, 2008
Esteban 'Steve' Jordan TributeH&H Ballroom, Aug. 10
Esteban "Steve" Jordan and his remarkable accordion were the reason for the tribute, but the eye-popping lineup was a cultural, racial, and musical tour de force, a confluence found only in Texas. It was also a grand pairing of San Antonio and Austin Chicano musicians, who have virtually paved I-35 with years of touring. Sarah Fox & Joel Guzman pulled a surprise opening act, laying down their unconventional sound between Guzman's accordion pageantry and Fox's sultry vocals. Once known as Shorty & the Corvettes, the contemporary version of Mariachi Corbetas, resplendent in crimson and gold, serenaded many of the 40 or so tables throughout the gymlike ballroom before the Texana Dames' lovely harmonies. Johnny Degollado's old-school conjunto brought out the dancers, as did Los Pinkys, featuring Isidro Samilpa. Ernie Garibay's S.A. Chicano blues was as good as it gets, followed by an outstanding crowd-pleaser of a set by Max Baca's Los Texmaniacs that included an incendiary cover of Sir Doug's "She's About a Mover." Baca, once with Flaco Jimenez, unquestionably ranks with Nunie Rubio among the finest young Chicano talents. Former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos read a proclamation for Jordan from the governor, prompting the ailing Tejano legend's first visit to the stage. Garbed in a purple vest with matching shirt, he gave a quietly emotional thank you to the hundreds gathered, including Jerry Avila, the night's emcee and host of Primetime Tejano; members of the Austin Latino Music Association; Alex Gonzales of Eliseo Productions; Rose Reyes from the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Fiesta Musical host/man-about-town Isodoro Lopez. When co-organizer Larry Lange assembled the Chicano Soul Revue onstage, the evening shifted sweetly into nostalgia. Little Joe's heart-fluttering croon blended with Joanna Ramirez, and the set featured the velvet voice of the Royal Jesters' Dimas Garza. The music is so delicate that it's in constant danger of becoming schmaltz, but the sheer love between the performers and audience kept it visceral. The show was running late when Jordan appeared with his family band, Rio Jordan. He ripped on the accordion a bit before inviting Little Joe up to sing "El Gancho," then "Las Nubes," a Little Joe favorite. Jazzed by the palpable enthusiasm of the all-ages crowd, he played well past the allotted 20 minutes, laying down standards, including the bolero "El Jardinero." El Parche might have gone on forever; instead, he closed with "Ahora Ahora Ahora," an unreleased song, and a glimpse into the future still bright with Steve Jordan.