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This Week in Texas Music History: Bruno Villareal

by Stephen Becker 15 Jun 2012 2:00 PM

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a wandering performer who left a lasting mark on Texas music.


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 introduces us to some musicians who really knew how to honk their horns.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. 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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On June 12, 1930, South Texas accordionist Bruno Villareal made the first known conjunto recordings on a major label, Okeh Records. Villareal was partially blind and worked as a street musician, traveling from the Rio Grande Valley up as far north as Amarillo. Along with pioneering accordion players Narcíso Martínez and Santiago Jiménez, Sr., Bruno Villareal blended Texas-Mexican folk music with German and Czech accordion polkas to help forge the modern conjunto sound.

By helping introduce conjunto to a broader regional audience, Bruno Villareal ensured that this unique style of Texas-Mexican music would remain widely popular today.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about a Dallas recording session that some believe involved a deal with the devil.