By Rae Jefferson
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Known for its upbeat rhythms and brass instruments, Tejano music has long been a staple of Texan culture.
Popular among Hispanic communities, the art form reflecting the fusion of Mexican and American cultures will be celebrated in Waco at the Pre-Labor Day Tejano Explosion Concert.
The event, hosted by Waco Missions Club, is scheduled from 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday at 3316 J J Flewellen Road and will feature popular Tejano musician Ruben Ramos. Musician Raulito Navaira will be featured as a special guest. Tickets are $12 each.
“It’s especially for people who love Tejano music and who love music made by Ruben,” Frank DeLeon, the club’s activity promotions chairman said.
The festival will be held on a 12-acre plot of land normally used by Waco Missions Club. The site, which borders the Brazos River, includes a stage for concerts, a playground area and baseball field.
DeLeon said the group was started in 1956 as part of a baseball team at Saint Francis on the Brazos, a local church in Waco.
“In ’57 we reorganized as an independent group and have been going ever since,” he said.
Waco Missions Club is a local organization focused on building up the community, DeLeon said. The “volunteer-driven” club has held events such as Easter-egg hunts, meals and fundraisers for members of the community, he said.
“We just had an event on memorial day to honor service men,” DeLeon said. “We do a lot for the community.”
The club also desires to celebrate Hispanic culture, DeLeon said.
“We’re trying to reach the Hispanic students here at Baylor,” he said.
DeLeon said Ramos’ performance is eagerly awaited.
“He’s a Tejano legend,” he said. “He’s a great entertainer, and he’s won a lot of Tejano music awards.”
DeLeon said Tejano music inspires him in a way other genres cannot.
“Tejano music hits me in the heart because of the rhythm and the sound and the words,” he said. “Ruben’s sound is unique because there aren’t many bands these days that have a horn section.”
Ramos, who lives in Austin, first performed at the age of 17. Growing up in a musical family inspired his 53-year-long career, he said.
“It’s in the blood,” he said. “My whole family is musicians. My sisters, my brothers, all my cousins – everyone.”
Although he performs Tejano music, Ramos said it is not necessarily his favorite genre.
“I wouldn’t say that I enjoy Tejano more than other genres,” he said. “My first language, as far as music, was English – rock ‘n’ roll, James Brown, Ray Charles. But I love both of them.”
Ramos does not perform rock ‘n’ roll because he does not think it would be received as eagerly as his Tejano performances.
“I’ve got to give the public what they want,” he said. “I cannot just go play the music that I want to play. I’ve got to play what the public wants. If I do, then I’ll have gigs – a place to play.”
Waco is not new territory for Ramos. His first performance in the city was in 1973.
Ramos said he decided to play at the Pre-Labor Day Tejano Explosion Concert because he has a strong following in the city.
“I have a lot of friends in Waco,” he said. “It’s always a great time and performance.”
Ramos said although he is getting older, he does not have intentions of putting his career behind him anytime soon.
“Thank God that I still have the energy and desire to keep on going,” he said. “I have a couple of friends I went to school with, and they tell me I’m too old to be on stage, but I’m enjoying myself. It’s still fun.”
DeLeon said he hopes attendees leave the festival happy and pleased with the performances.
“People are looking for an event they can go to,” he said. “They’re looking for a place where they can enjoy themselves with their families.”