Legends of conjunto: Five pioneers enter Hall of Fame

SAN BENITO — The beats and rhythms in June P. Garcia’s music are unmistakable.

It’s not just the beats of the accordion and bajo sexto that make the difference. It’s the counter beats and the complex melodies, said Rick Garcia, master of ceremonies at last night’s 15th Annual Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame Induction Awards. The event was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

June P. Garcia was one of five conjunto legends inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The other conjunto stars inducted were Juan Tejeda, David Farias, Juan Tovar and Julian Figueroa.

“I feel great and honored, very proud,” said Garcia, 70, who stood tall and solid in his dark maroon suit.

“He’s been with Hacienda Records since 1979,” said Rick Garcia, who also is executive vice president of the Corpus Christi-based company.

Tejeda, decked out in a black hat and thick beard, recalled his introduction to the button accordion.

“My father came from a musical family,” recalled the San Antonio native. “My father played guitar and sang along with my uncles.”

His father wanted him to learn how to play the accordion, and he asked Santiago Jimenez Jr. to teach him. Having the right connections definitely paid off in this case. Jimenez is the son of conjunto pioneer Santiago Jimenez Sr. And his brother Flaco Jimenez is considered by many to be the greatest Tejano accordion player of all time.

So at age 12 Tejeda began studying with the greats. From there his musical career spread into many arenas. He’s currently the accordionist and vocalist for Conjunto Aztlan. He has also served as the Zicano Music Program Director for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio.

And those are just a few reasons why he was at the event last night.

“It’s an honor and it’s humbling,” he said.

Conjunto great Juan Tovar, vocalist and front man for Los Padres, began singing when he was only 5 years old.

“I started playing bass in 1960,” said the Brownsville native. “And then I played with Los Dinos.”

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. was there to support his friend Tovar.

“We grew up together,” he said. “It’s an honor for me to have the chance to introduce Juan Tovar.”

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