It’s not every day that you can check out a musical living legend for free, but tonight Little Joe y La Familia will headline the Pan Americana Festival at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (600 River St.).
Saturday’s concert, which starts at 5 p.m., will wrap up four days of free Tejano music at the cultural center presented by the Mexican American Experience Wednesday and Thursday and the Pan Americana Festival Friday and Saturday during South by Southwest week.
With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA, tied up in the court system and a murky outlook for a legislative fix, the lives of more than 120,000 young immigrants in Texas hangs in limbo.
Since President Donald Trump cancelled DACA in September, it’s been a tumultuous time for an estimated 800,000 youths across the country. Often called “Dreamers,” these young immigrants were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and have work permits that protect them from deportation.
At South by Southwest on Thursday, the nonprofit organization Voto Latino brought together activist musicians for a free “Dream Out Loud” concert at the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake hosted by actor and activist Wilmer Valderrama. Voto Latino announced at the concert that law firm King & Spalding will provide free legal counsel and cover filing fees for those facing deportation. They encouraged DACA recipients and people with temporary protected status to text DREAM to 73179 for more information.
The evening dedicated to Dreamers featured performers including Mexican electro-corrido band Centavrvs, Colombian DJ collective El Freaky, Tex-Mex greats Los Super Seven featuring artists such as Flaco Jimenez, Rick Treviño, Steve Berlin and Max Baca. Legendary musicians Los Lobos, minus David Hidalgo, headlined the show.
Latin American icon Rúben Blades stood alongside a group of DACA recipients who took the stage and shared their stories.
For 21-year-old student Berenice Gonzalez, who majors in biology at Texas A&M International University, the uncertainty over DACA’s future means having to be ready for anything. She lost a semester at school during a period when her DACA permit expired and she couldn’t renew.
Gonzalez said she began saving money at the time in order to move to Nuevo Laredo, where she says she doesn’t know anyone or have any relatives. “At first it was scary,” she said on Thursday. “Now I just try to prepare as much as possible for whatever may come.”
You don’t need a badge, wristband or even cash to check out some of Tejano music’s biggest stars like Little Joe y La Familia and AJ Castillo during South by Southwest this year. Just head to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center from March 14-17 for free music with a lakeside view.
For years the Mexican American Experience and Pan Americana Festivals, which take place during the week of South by Southwest but are not part of that festival, have offered music lovers the opportunity to check out diverse Latin music of all kinds. For the first time this year, the two back-to-back festivals are offering four days of Tejano music programming.
Aside from free admission, both festivals offer free parking at Sanchez Elementary, Martin Middle School and Fiesta Gardens. Free shuttles run from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. when the concerts end.
Tejano music legend Jay Perez will headline the Mexican American Experience, which is presented by the MACC and Crossroads Events, on March 14. Other performers include Grammy-nominated vocalist Stefani Montiel and rising artist Devin Banda.
Tejano music star A.J. Castillo returns to the Mexican American Experience festival this year to headline the March 15 showcase. Other performers include San Antonio-based group Jaime DeAnda Los Chamacos and Yayo Castillo y Rumores.
At the Pan Americana Festival, musical heavyweights Ricardo Castillon y La Diferenzia headline the March 16 concert. The Jorge Amayo Band, Angie Gonzalez and a mariachi group to be announced will round out the performers that evening.
Tejano music icon Little Joe y La Familia will headline the festivities on March 17. Veteran performer David Marez, past Tejano Idol winner Ashley Borrero and former Los Texas Wranglers vocalist Nikki Lopez will wrap up the festival.
While the South by Southwest crowds are worrying about wristbands, badges and lines, Latin music lovers can check out free music with a lakeside view during the Mexican American Experience and Pan Americana festivals March 15-18.
The two separate festivals at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center celebrate the diversity within the Latin music genre by showcasing everything from Tejano grooves to Latin alternative beats. It’s where you can discover new musical gems but also dance to your favorite songs.
Tejano Music Award winners Jaime y Los Chamacos, of San Antonio, will headline the March 15 showcase at the Mexican American Experience. Other featured performers at the showcase, which starts at 5 p.m., include Los García Brothers, Rumores, Lesly Reynaga and Austin Tejano Idol 2011 winner Ashley Borrero.
Tejano music star A.J. Castillo returns to the Mexican American Experience festival this year to headline the March 16 showcase at 10 p.m. Some acts performing earlier that evening include cumbia band Cañonazo, former frontman of Grupo Vida Art Tigerina, former David Lee Garza Y Los Musicales member Ben Ozuna and Austin-based singer Mia Garcia.
Still want more music? Don’t worry — after the Mexican American Experience ends, the Pan Americana Festival begins on March 17-18. Some of their Friday performers include all-female DJ group Chulita Vinyl Club and Rio Jordan (made up of the sons of legendary accordionist Esteban Jordan). Some of the Saturday night performers include Grammy Award winners David Lee Garza y Los Musicales and funk/soul group 80H Project. Check facebook.com/PanAmericanaFestival for schedule and lineup updates.
Here’s the full line-up for the Mexican American Experience:
Doors open at 5 p.m. Times subject to change.
Wed. March 15
5:30 p.m. Lesly Reynaga
6 p.m. Ashley Borrero
7:15 p.m. Rumores
8:30 p.m. Los Garcia Brothers
9:45 p.m Jaime y Los Chamacos
Thursday, March 16
5:30 p.m. Michel/Corpus Christi
6:30 p.m. Cañonazo
7:30 p.m. Ben Ozuna
8:30 p.m. Art Tigerina Band
9:15 p.m. Mia Garcia
10 p.m. AJ Castillo
Here’s the Pan Americana Festival Line-up (talent subject to change)