Los Texmaniacs feat. La Marisoul

conjunto tejano San Antonio, Texas, and Los Angeles, California
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Photo Credit: Michael G. Stewart

Among the most exciting groups in conjunto tejano today, Los Texmaniacs meld lively traditional Mexican American music with rock, blues, and R&B, creating “hip music that everybody in the world can relate to,” according to bandleader Max Baca. Joining them at the 81st National Folk Festival is Grammy award-winning vocalist Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernández, whose playful verve and singular, soulful voice adds a fresh dimension to Los Texmaniacs’ already irresistible sound.

Conjunto emerged in the Rio Grande Valley around the late 19th century when German, Czech, and Polish immigrants introduced the button accordion into the spirited dance music of Mexican working-class communities in South Texas. By the early 1930s, modern conjunto emerged as a distinctive mixture of rancheras, polkas, waltzes, boleros, cumbias, huapangos, and schottisches, centered around the accordion and the bajo sexto, a 12-stringed guitar-like instrument. 

Los Texmaniacs founder Max Baca is considered one of the most dynamic bajo sexto players alive—capable of jaw-dropping lead runs as well as the rock-steady rhythmic punch that is the signature “bajo” sound. The longtime right-hand man of legendary accordionist Flaco Jiménez in the group the Texas Tornados, Max founded Los Texmaniacs in 1997. The group also features his nephew, Josh Baca, an accordion wizard who has toured regularly with Los Lobos; the talented Noel Hernandez on bass; and veteran drummer and guitarrón player Lorenzo Martinez—another former member of the Texas Tornados, and long-time student of legendary mariachi Nati Cano. Awarded a Grammy for Best Tejano Album in 2010, Los Texmaniacs earned another nomination in 2019 for Cruzando Borders. After a quarter century together, Los Texmaniacs are globally celebrated ambassadors of Tex-Mex conjunto music and culture. 

Hailing from East Los Angeles, La Marisoul was raised by a music-loving family of merchants along historic Olvera Street, aka Placita Olvera. Beginning at an early age, she sang in front of her family’s shop, interpreting traditional Mexican songs, romantic boleros, jazz standards, and rock, before founding her Grammy Award-winning group La Santa Cecilia. Ten years and seven albums later, in 2020 she released a debut solo album, entitled La Marisoul and The Love Notes Orchestra, Vol. 1. 

Los Texmaniacs’ and La Marisoul’s exciting collaboration is born out of a shared appreciation for a repertory of deeply felt, emotional, and enduring songs, many by celebrated Mexican songwriters, as well as expressing the complexities of Mexican American cultural identity in creative new ways while simultaneously honoring the past. This common artistic vision will come to fruition with their forthcoming album from Smithsonian Folkways, tentatively titled Corazones and Canciones [Hearts and Songs]. Inspired by the idea of “heart,” the album will feature a collection of beloved classics from a broad range of Mexican American traditions that have touched the hearts of listeners and absorbed meaning across generations. Together, Los Texmaniacs and La Marisoul breathe fresh energy into timeless songs, sharing the rich and varied legacy of Mexican American music—with a twist.

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