Following the conclusion of the Mexican-American War and continuing through the first half of the twentieth century, the ethnically Mexican population in Texas suffered discrimination and ethno-racial segregation from the dominant, Anglo-Texan community. This systemic structure induced the Texas-Mexican community to create separate, Spanish-speaking social spaces. Tejano and conjunto music were influenced by these inequitable policies. Separate performance outlets, with distinct priorities and procedures, maintained a musical community outside of mainstream recording practices. This Texas-Mexican musical community—separate and distinctive from the hegemonic industry—has been maintained in contemporary practices, as demonstrated by the absence of Texas-Mexican artists at the annual South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. From its beginnings in 1987, SXSW has drawn a diverse assortment of record labels, booking agents, promoters, managers, artists, and audiences. Although the festival started with a regional focus, billed as a means to bring together Texas music and the rest of the world, Tejanx participation is sparse, indicating a continuing separation between these two communities. Yet, SXSW has strategically attracted international artists and historically Black American genres. This paper uses statistical and ethnographic evidence to examine this selective absence of Tejano musics at SXSW.
The Absence of Texas-Mexican Musics at the South by Southwest Festival
Erin E. Bauer is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her research examines musical relationships through systems of globalization. In particular, she explores the interconnection between genre and identity as an implication of global processes. Her current book, forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press, addresses the worldwide spread of Texas-Mexican conjunto music. Bauer previously served as Director of Instrumental Music at Laramie County Community College. She holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Claremont Graduate University.
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Erin E. Bauer; The Absence of Texas-Mexican Musics at the South by Southwest Festival. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 September 2022; 34 (3): 30–58. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2022.34.3.30
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