At 87, beloved Mexican-American singer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and composer, Manuel “Cowboy” Donley still performs weekly. It’s not at a fancy venue with a pricey cover charge, but instead at the Mexican restaurant El Gallo on South Congress Avenue, where he has a longtime residency. Checking out a Donley performance, which typically starts at 7 p.m., is one of those uniquely Austin must-see experiences.
Donley has blazed a trail in the Mexican-American community inspiring many musicians with his influential music that’s earned him the nickname the “Godfather of Tejano” music. Donley recently won the National Endowment for the Arts’ lifetime achievement award for folk and traditional arts. He will be honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in September.