“The Big Bang Salsa Fest” debuts at the Hilbert Kopplin Park in Three Rivers at noon on Saturday, July 5.
This festival will feature two stages of continuous music and miscellaneous acts, the prerequisite salsa tasting contest, kid rides, numerous food and craft vendors and a wonderful fireworks display in the evening.
Meanwhile, a variety of crackerjack performers will hit the stage to kick off the event—which is free to the public. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
Local Tejano musicians Grupo Moya join the array of talented performers during this year’s celebration.
There also will be such mainstays as the Chris Rybak Band (with Santiago Jimenez), and the Brush Country Music Jamboree (with guest performers Ricky Turpin playing twin fiddles with Joe Nixon).
South Texas performing legend Al Dean will be there, as will the gospel-based Rocky Roberts Family.
Also performing will be Cadeno y Sus Cojuento, Rob “Elvis” Carter, South of Heaven, Gary Glenn, 20X, the Pear Ratz, Sally Carlson, Debbie Reider, Curtis Richard and Rick Maguglin.
And, also gracing the local stage will be musician Conrad Gonzales Jr.
Salsa Fest began in 2000 under the direction of Murrell Foster, executive director of the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce. However, the chamber board voted to discontinue their support of the event because of a change in sponsors. Around the same time, First National Bank decided to end its seven-year run of operating the salsa competition.
The city of Three Rivers decided to take over, and event facilitator Barbara Dezell was hired to manage the event. Soon, the event was retooled to combine July 4 festivities with the tradition of Salsa Fest.
“We want to get everyone’s adrenaline up, so they’ll be really wanting to check this out,” Dezell has said.
Anyone who wishes to inquire about the Salsa Fest can contact Dezell at (361) 436-2069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, check out the participants:
Tony “Pistolero” Hinojosa, president of the Reguladores Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, Choke Canyon Chapter, said his group is sponsoring biker competitions and biker games with many contests and prizes. Proceeds go to benefit the Clovis Ray Scholarship Fund.
Grupo Moya recently released a new album titled On The Move and currently is working on a second album. The group started playing in the 1970s has been going on ever since—enjoying themselves as they go. The band plays together well because they are all related. The Three Rivers-based group includes Erasmo R. Moya, Roger Moya, Roy Moya, Gilbert Rodriguez, Manuel Tanguma, Johnny Rodriguez, Nick Ramirez and Nick Casarez.
Accordion Cowboy Chris Rybak is known for his unique mix of country, polka, Cajun, folk, gospel and classical music. Rybak, who performs both nationally and internationally, is one of the most popular such entertainers in Texas. He is known to play an average of 100 public shows a year and 40 or so private shows for birthdays, anniversaries and reunions, weddings and other special occasions.
Gary Glenn and the 20X Band
Gary Wayne Glenn was always the class clown in high school, according to his bio. He began an interest in music by rewriting lyrics to radio hits to include stories about his friends and family and to poke fun at some of his nemeses. After leaving Texas State University in San Marcos, he auditioned to be the lead singer of Wildcard—a high energy “show band” that performed all over Texas for over a decade. Between 1995 and 2008, Wildcard dominated the South Texas dancehall circuit and gained Glenn many fans who have followed him through the years. After he decided to put a original music cd together, Gary started his own group, “the 20x Band,” which has some former members of Wildcard as well as some new faces that have come together to put their own touch on Texas music.
Santiago Jimenez Jr.
Santiago Jimenez Jr. is a singer and accordionist whose father is credited with contributing significantly to the conjunto instrumental style. Conjunto is the accordion based social music of Mexico and South Texas and is greatly rooted in tradition. Jimenez is a three-time Grammy nominee. According to his biography, when his brother Flaco mixed his sound with modern influences like jazz and country, Jimenez upheld the traditions of his father, concentrating on the basic formula of two-button accordion with guitar and voice accompaniment.
Conrad M. Gonzales Jr.
Conrad M. Gonzales, Jr. is a retired San Antonio firefighter and paramedic who has been performing for just under three years. He was inspired to become a performer when his fiance told him he had a great voice and should be a country western artist. Gonzales, a fan of such greats as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb and others, eventually played at Leon Springs Dance Hall in San Antonio, as well as in Boerne, New Braunfels, Luckenbach, Seguin, and, most recently, Branson Missouri. He has composed several songs and recorded two that were produced and mixed by Kenny Penny, a former lead guitarist for Jerry Reed.
South Of Heaven
According to their Facebook profile, South of Heaven is an acoustic-electric band that consists of musicians from Beeville. “The band plays a little bit of everything ranging from rock to country, a little old school and just about everything else,” according to the bio. Band members consist of Jeremiah Cruz on vocals; Mark Cruz on vocals and rhythm guitar; Marcos Montez on lead guitar; Jonathon Saenz on percussion; and Moises Manzano on bass.
In 2014, Chano Cadena celebrated 60 years of bringing the finest in Conjunto music to the public and his fans. Since 1954, he probably has the longest running working conjunto based mostly out of Alice. In the ’60s and ’70s, Chano’s conjunto toured all over Texas and even in states such as New Mexico, Colorado and Florida. It was on this circuit that the conjunto shared a stage with many legendary greats such as Tony De La Rosa and El Conjunto Bernal. Many successful musicians such as Juan Sifuentes, Manuel Solis and Ruben Naranjo began their careers as a member of Chano’s conjunto. In the late 1960s and ’70s, Chano’s conjunto assembled perhaps his most talented lineup featuring the vocal duo Tonio Vasquez and Fidel Cavazos. The ’80s and ’90s brought another great era as the conjunto recorded many successful albums with Beltran Garcia’s Canasta label out of Kingsville. Chano continues to play in and around South Texas with his conjunto till this day at bars, dances and private parties. Chano Cadena was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame in Alice in 2001. He was also inducted in 2007 to the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum in San Benito. In 2013, Chano was inducted into the Conjunto Hall of Fame in San Antonio.
Rob Carter is a tribute artist with exception voice and spirit. He competed at the 2006 Elvis Tribute Artist Festival in Collingwood, Canada. He toured all over Europe and Asia performing Elvis for thousands of enthusiastic fans and servicemen. He also does gospel shows @Cowboys for Jesus Church’s and his show is sponsored by the Brush Country Cowboy Church and Pastor Pat Traxler is also featured on the show. Rob will be hosting, emceeing and performing at the Big Bang Salsa Fest in Three Rivers on July 5th.
If you like screaming “Bull sh#$” while dancing to “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” you can thank Al Dean, country singer and bandleader of “The All-Stars.” He recorded an instrumental version of the song—which basically is the “national anthem of Texas.” It inspired a new round of dance polka for couples, which was adapted into a simplified version as a non-partner waist-hold, spoke line routine. Heel and toe polka steps were replaced with a cross-lift followed by a kick with two-steps. The lift and kick are sometimes accompanied by shouts of “whoops, whoops,” or “bull sh#$” — mimicking the act of kicking off barnyard muck.
From their bio: Once upon a time, in the 1980s in George West, there was a thrash-metal band that achieved a bit of success. Having started families, the members decided to take the ’90s off to raise their kids. It wasn’t long before these guys felt the itch again, that need to write and perform. But when they looked in the mirror, they realized they were just too old for the metal scene.
“But then,” as bandleader Bob Strause puts it, “we heard distorted guitars on Ragweeds’s Live and Loud at the Wormy Dog. And with Reckless Kelly putting fiddle on their rock songs, we knew we could find a home on the Texas music scene.”
And so out of the brush and prickly pear (hence the name) of Live Oak County, The Pear Ratz were born.
The Pear Ratz continue to keep a busy schedule, touring regionally, writing songs, and building their fan base. These former metalheads have definitely found a home on the Texas music scene.