Hispanic Heritage Month: Tejano music has roots in Alice

Robin Bradshaw
Alice Echo News Journal

As South Texas celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month one tradition that is unique to Texas roots is that of Tejano music. Tejano is part of the fabric of Alice as its been called  the birthplace of Tejano  and known for its wide array of local talent and a famous recording studio to match. Older generations can remember some of the early pioneers like Lolo Cavazos and Amando Flores. 

The LaVillita dance hall on Old Kingsville Road in Alice, Texas.

Alice native Ruben Cadena was in the local Tejano radio business for 32 years and remembers the good  old days when Ideal Records was in full swing and the LaVillita was the place to be. 

"I remember growing up and my mother had a radio in every room of the house," Cadena explains. "We would listen to all the greats Chano Cadena, Rene Joslin and the list goes on. This area had a lot of great local talent." 

Tejano Roots Museum Alice, Texas.

The Tejano R.O.O.T.S Museum in Alice highlights Alice's legacy of Tejano music and hosts annual events to honor the musicians that keep the music alive . 

R.O.O.T.S. stands for Remembering Our Own Tejano Stars. Each year, except 2020 due to Covid-19, Tejano stars gather in Alice to induct members to the Hall of Fame for their contributions to the genre.

Ruben Lopez is the museum's board president and takes pride in the music and memorabilia of the South Texas heritage.

More:Hispanic Heritage Month: Here's some of the best places for mollejas in Alice

"There is Tejano and then there is Conjunto," Lopez says. "Tejano has more instruments and has a bigger sound. Conjunto is more of a one-two beat and the dance style is a little different between the two sounds. Each area in Texas has a little different sound and style when comparing the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Alice," he said. "The accordion is a unique instrument because it expresses how you feel. Two different musicians can play the same song and it will sound completely different because the accordion expresses the feeling of the player of the instrument."

"Freddie Records in Corpus Christi recorded many of the greats musicians showcased in the museum and continue to record to this day," Lopez added. "People from all around the world listen to the music from our area."

The Laura Canales exhibit at the Tejano Roots Museum in Alice, Texas.

Following in the Alice tradition,  a young disc jockey has made a big name for himself on the Tejano music scene. Jason Guerra, also known as DJ Lucky J,  is a senior at Alice Independent School District and has recently been featured on the Texas County Reporter and "Domino Live," along with big time gigs in Vegas and throughout Texas.

DJ Lucky J  from Alice, Texas.

"I've been able to meet and perform with Lucky Joe and many of my favorite artists. I just want to stay humble and take each day as it comes," DJ Lucky J said. 

His mother, Renee, added that his success has continued to grow.

"My son is keeping the music alive in the younger generations,"  she said. "People know him throughout the state and he is followed around the world. It is crazy." 

Tejano artists and its fans continue to spread the music of its culture throughout the world. Tejano R.O.OT.S. annual induction ceremony in January will be held at the Jim Wells County Fairgrounds. You can find DJ Lucky J go live on his Facebook and check out his upcoming events scheduled throughout the state.