Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman recalls two brothers whose musical skills helped take a popular genre of folk music to a whole new level.
NOTE: You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on SUNDAY at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio instead of its previous Saturday spot on the schedule. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Paulino Bernal was born on June 22, 1939, in Raymondville, Texas. Along with his brother, Eloy, Paulino formed El Conjunto Bernal, one of the most popular conjunto groups of the 1950s. At first, the Bernal brothers worked as a backup band for better-known artists. However, Paulino and Eloy quickly gained a reputation as two of the most gifted accordion players in the Southwest. The Bernal brothers’ unparalleled expertise on the accordion, along with the band’s intricate three-part harmonies, raised the folk genre known as conjunto to an unprecedented level of musical sophistication and helped pave the way for the emergence of Tejano music in the late 1970s.