Los Texmaniacs, Cruzando Borders – Review
Los Texmaniacs is a conjunto band created by Max Baca in 1997. Baca wanted to create a band that incorporated elements from genres such as Rock & Roll and Jazz while still honoring the roots of conjunto Tejano. In 2010 Los Texmaniacs won a Grammy Award for Tejano Album of The Year Borders y Bailes. Members of Los Texmaniacs have changed over the years, but current members include Max Baca on bajo sexto, Josh Baca on accordion, Noel Hernandez on electric bass, and Lorenzo Martínez on the drums. Los Texmaniacs have collaborated with various artists from different genres including Rick Trevino (country music), Flaco Jimenez (Tejano), Los Lobos (Latin) and even Hip-Hop recording artist/songwriter King Montana. King Montana aka Aztek Astronaut is first cousins with Max Baca.
Their latest endeavor, Cruzando Borders is a collection of tunes that connect the traditional roots of Tejano polkas, redovas, chotises(schottisches), waltzes and huapangos, while pushing forward with a flavorful melding of country, Tejano and Texmex sounds.
“Deportee,” a Woody Guthrie song is performed eloquently by vocalist Lyle Lovett, it speaks of the hard-working Mexican worker and the struggle to make a life, and the disrespectful connotation of the deportee. Lovett has the type of voice that is honest and heartfelt, and this tune is a befitting song for him to perform. The group supports him with sensitive and meaningful accompaniment.
“I Am a Mexican” weaves a touch of country yet with a traditional beat, and features lead vocals by Rick Treviño, who also wrote the tune. The song is a stripped down acoustic sound that speaks of the Mexican experience of discrimination, the hard-working field worker who is lonely and longs to have the understanding of his fellow humans. Treviño explains “she says my back is wet, I say its honest sweat.” Trevino is the son of Ricardo Trevino, Sr., a Tejano musician, and Linda Chavez, who has been steadily releasing albums since 1993 on (Columbia Nashville, Sony, Vanguard Records, Self-Released, Warner Bros).
The Spanglish title certainly lends itself to the mood of Cruzando Borders, the Tex-Mex conjunto genre has made a lasting impact, culturally on Latino community in the United States, and Los Texmaniacs is leading the distinction of Spanish lyrics over the oompah of polkas and Bavarian waltzes, that is firmly recognized as Tejano flavoring. A wonderful listen in the heritage of an ever-growing genre.