Norteño Music Booking, Conjunto Music Booking

Norteño, Conjunto or Tejano Music Booking: Which Is It?

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During its 44-year history, TSE Entertainment has done a lot of Tejano music booking for various events. Whether it’s Grito Festivals, weddings, public concerts, private parties and Quinceañeras, Tejano music booking is big in Texas. Most festivals and fairs in the Southwest will also have Tejano music as part of their entertainment program. Tejano music booking services extends beyond strictly Tejano music, to other local Latin and Mexican music genres as well. The more prominent music genre in Texas and the Southwest is Northern Mexico regional music (Música Norteño) which originated around the Texas-Mexico border.

Many people are often confused by the difference between Tejano music and Norteño music because both genres are popular both in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. We often find talent buyers unaware of the difference as they go about booking Tejano music. Another term associated with Norteño music is “conjunto” which refers to the ensemble that performs the music. This term is often used in Texas to refer to Norteño music.

norteno music bookingMúsica Norteño from which Tejano music is derived dates back to the late 1800’s. The word norteño (northern) refers to Norteño music’s roots in the northern part of Mexico.  It should be noted that Norteño music arose as dance music. It was much later that vocals became part of the music. Its birth was the result of the mixing of cultures when the Mexicans were exposed to the music and dancing of German and Czech immigrants who had immigrated to the area. This experience brought the accordion and European folk dances such as polkas, waltzes and others into the Northern Mexican culture and into their music as well. Eventually a unique genre of music was created as traditional Mexican music forms blended with their European counterparts.

Before long, this Norteño dance music became, and is still considered, the music of the working class. Its up-tempo style is famous for its celebratory excitement and raucous lyrical themes. Within the music you hear the European polka blended with corridos (long ballads) and rancheras (traditional songs).

By the 1920’s, two instruments had become associated with Norteño music; the “button” accordion and the bajo sexto. The latter is a 12-string, baritone-range, guitar that is tuned an octave lower than a guitar and functions as a bass instrument. The typical conjunto ensemble also adds drums and an electric bass. The latter allows the bajo sexto a lot more creative freedom. It was about 50 years after its birth before Valero Longoria began adding vocals, transforming what was instrumental music into the what we know today. In the 50’s and later decades, Norteño music was well-established as the most popular genre of music among the working classes of Mexicans both in northern Mexico and in Texas.

In Texas, these accordion-based Norteño music ensembles are known as conjuntos. Norteño music has many sub-genres, mostly related to regional styles. Its popularity has spread to Latinos all over Mexico as well as the other regions of the United States. It continues to have a traditional and less Americanized sound. Some of its most popular artists still performing include Ramón Ayala, Los Tigres del Norte and Flacco Jimenez.

Tejano Music: A Texas Adaptation of Norteño Music

The adjective “Tejano” actually means “Texan.” It refers to a Texas-Mexican. You can think of Tejano music as “Americanized” Norteño music that originated among Mexican-Americans in central and southern Texas. While both music genres are, at their heart, accordion-based bands, the more modern sounding Tejano or Tex-Mex music originated during the 1950’s and combined the traditional Norteño music sounds with other popular U.S. influences such as country, rock and roll, jazz and pop music. Tejano music may often include English words or lyrics. It’s a broad genre that includes many different forms with some sounding more like country or rock music. A modern Tejano band leans more on a synthesizer for its sound and includes drums, electric guitar, bass, and other instruments. The accordion, which was not emphasized in modern Tejano music, is making a comeback with Tejano bands as they compete with regional Mexican music bands.

Norteno music booking, conjunto music bookingTejano music reached its peak of success in the 1990’s with stars like Selena, Emilio and La Mafia. Since the late 90’s Tejano music radio stations with their bilingual format have steadily declined with many converting to Mexican regional music programming and an all-Spanish language format. There are several reasons for the decline of Tejano music’s popularity, including the competition with Norteño and other Mexican Regional music, the death of Selena and the retirement of established artists while not seeing the emergence of many new stars in the Tejano music world.

Despite the decline, Tejano music booking is still a significant portion of the bookings we do at TSE Entertainment. TSE does a lot of booking of today’s Tejano music stars, including such names as Michael Salgado, AJ Castillo, Los Texmaniacs, David Lee Garza and the great Flaco Jiménez. Tejano music fans’ longing for the heyday of Tejano music means that one of the most popular Tejano music bookings we do is for a Selena Tribute. It’s a testimony of her influence on Tejano music that we get so many Selena tribute booking requests.

Tejano Music Booking, Norteño Music Booking, or Conjunto Music Booking Often Depends on Where The Performance Takes Place

The confusion between these terms when booking extends to where the concert event takes place. A talent buyer in Texas may use the term “Conjunto” music to mean “Norteño” music. In Arizona, they use “Norteño” and not “Conjunto” Tejano music, as the name implies, is biggest in the Lonestar state, while in a place like Washington state, the Mexican-American community dates back to the 1940’s and Norteño is their music of choice.

The popularity of Música Norteño in America is most likely tied to Mexican-Americans and recent immigrants wanting to preserve a Mexican, working-class culture no matter where they reside in the United States.

Whether its Tejano music booking, Conjunto or Norteño music booking, TSE Entertainment can find the right artists for your event whether it be a Concert, Quinceañera, Wedding, Festival or Private Event.

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About the author

Picture of Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Doctor Bob brings a diverse background in production, marketing, and business management to his position as Managing Partner of TSE Entertainment. His responsibilities include overseeing TSE’s services other than talent booking. He also manages the marketing and business operations side of TSE.
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