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story.lead_photo.caption John Garza, on standup bass, and Dave Perez, accordion and vocals, are the two original members still playing after a dozen years with the Fort Worth-based Tejas Brothers.

Bass player John Garza says he coined the term the Tejas Brothers use to describe their music -- "Tex-Mex honky-tonk." What that means remains open to interpretation, based on the venue, the audience and the mood of the band's frontman, Dave Perez.

"We just go with it!"


Tejas Brothers

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18

WHERE — The Blue Lion at UAFS Downtown

COST — $25

INFO — 788-7000

Garza, who grew up in Irving, Texas, outside of Dallas, is the son of Mexican immigrants who introduced him to a wide range of music, from Buck Owens to Johnny Cash and Chuck Berry to Little Richard, but also to the music of their homeland.

"I heard a lot of the traditional Mexican music, but I never really listened to it," he says. "What I didn't realize was I was hearing the foundation of the Tejas Brothers."

Ironically, Garza was introduced to the other side of his heritage when he met and started playing with Dave Perez, vocalist and accordion player. Their musical relationship started during a weekly open mic jam session on the stage at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards and grew up to be a band.

"Dave is 10 years younger, but he was brought up in a very similar household," Garza says. "Like me, he didn't learn very much Spanish growing up. But unlike me -- because I had latched onto the blues and had toured with several bands in the mid-'90s during the blues heyday -- he was focusing on traditional Mexican music.

"I wish our fathers had met," he muses. "Their musical tastes were so similar, it's kind of uncanny."

Since then, Garza has become a student of music history, particularly in Texas. He doesn't want to sound "elitist or egotistical," he says, but "from a musical standpoint, I think it's very difficult for any other state to compete with Texas." He believes that in every musical genre, Texas has produced icons that have "changed the path of music in America" -- and he rattles off names like Western swing bandleader Bob Wills, rock legends ZZ Top, jazz artist Norah Jones, blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson and Stevie Ray Vaughan, architect of the modern blues revival, to prove his point.

"Then you add in the Mexican aspect of it," he says. "Texas produced icons in Mexican music who were trendsetters, like the late Doug Sahm," who formed the Texas Tornados and created music that was a fusion of conjunto with rock and country.

"All of the things he encompassed, and all of the things he revered, have been a direct influence on the Tejas Brothers," Garza says of Sahm.

That doesn't mean audiences should expect a lecture on the evolution of Texas music at a Tejas Brothers show -- or anything else serious, he hastens to add. The band doesn't even use a set list.

"We just like to have fun -- and part of the fun is playing what we think the crowd might want to hear," he says. "Dave is fantastic -- he's so good at reading the audience. We tried a set list a couple of times, but we just got derailed trying to stick to it. This way, audiences know they're not going to see the same show twice, so it's more fun for them, too."

Garza says the band is equally happy to play at dance halls, festivals and in more intimate settings like the Blue Lion where "we can get a little intimate, living-room aspect going on. Those, for us, are our best shows. That being said, we don't look at any show as 'worse.'"

But back to what kind of music the Tejas Brothers play. Tex-Mex honky-tonk, Garza says, is "roots based."

"If you go to a show, you'll hear some blues, some rock 'n' roll, some jazz. We play a lot of original material, but we also do tons of covers. It all goes back to connecting and having fun."

NAN What's Up on 09/16/2018

Print Headline: 'Tex-Mex Honky-Tonk'

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