Winner, Fred Whitehead Award for Best Design of a Trade Book, 2006
Conjunto has been called Chicano roots music. Born when South Texas Tejanos adopted the button accordion from German settlers in the 1800s, this vibrant folk music mixes the accordion, bajo sexto guitar, bass, and drums to play lively, danceable versions of German polkas, waltzes, and schottisches, as well as Mexican corridos, boleros, rancheras, huapangos, and cumbias. A living, still evolving art form, conjunto contains the history, stories, and poems in song of Texas Mexicans even as it spreads its influence around the world and into musical genres as diverse as blues, country, rock, rap, reggae, salsa, merengue, jazz, and more.
To celebrate and honor the musicians who keep conjunto alive and growing, this book presents an album of color photographs of the most important and influential performers, as well as the dance halls and other venues where people come to enjoy their music. John Dyer captures the dynamic spirit that animates conjunto musicians in his dramatic photographs, which are captioned with micro-biographies of the performers. Interspersed among the images are English and Spanish lyrics that exemplify the poetry and themes of conjunto music.
Introducing the photographs are personal essays by Joe Nick Patoski, who describes the origins of the music and its place in contemporary life, and Juan Tejeda, who pays tribute to the importance of conjunto and of musicians such as Valerio Longoria and Tony de la Rosa. Together, the photographs and essays clearly proclaim that conjunto is a true American roots music, as vital and significant as jazz, zydeco, and country bluegrass.
- 2006, Winner - Fred Whitehead Award for Best Design of a Trade Book
John Dyer's work is as beautiful and heartfelt as the wail of a Texas
Dyer has stopped time in these photos, capturing these amazing, trailblazing conjunto
musicians in intimate moments where they work, play, and live. This is a rare opportunity
for us to get to know them, at least a little. . . . Check out how they caress their
accordion, finger the bajo sexto, or delicately brandish their burning bass. Listen to the
music and feel the songs that pass through your fingertips as you turn these pages.
On the surface, conjunto music may appear to be a simple pleasure that serves as an
excuse for a people of a certain place and culture to get together and have a good time. But
look deep into the eyes of the people in John Dyer's pictures. They all tell you conjunto is
more than that. For them, conjunto is life.
Russell Lee and Garry Winogrand, he has spent a career documenting the people and culture of
San Antonio and South Texas, in addition to commercial work for national magazines and
corporate clients. JOE NICK PATOSKI is a writer based in Austin, Texas, whose previous books include
Selena: Como la Flor and Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire. JUAN TEJEDA, a leading expert on conjunto music and founder of the Tejano Conjunto
Festival, is an instructor at Palo Alto College in San Antonio. He coedited Puro Conjunto:
An Album in Words and Pictures.
- Preface (Juan Tejeda)
- Introduction (Joe Nick Patoski)
- Author's Statement (John Dyer)
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