Rhythm & Roots

Ninigret Park / Charlestown, RI

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Photos by James St. Laurent

How do you say Yeeha! in Spanish? Los TexManiacs know. These five Texans rip through serious rock and roll in both Spanish and English, with equal musical references. Both their headgear and their instruments speak volumes about their roots: two straw Stetsons and three blues hats, and two frontmen, on guitar and accordion respectively. Rhythm & Roots has a long history of supporting not only New Orleans-roots music, but Spanish bands as well, from East-LA’s Los Lobos to the Mavericks, with Raul Malo representing Cuba. The Texmaniacs are not new—their album Borders Y Bailes (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) won them a 2010 Grammy for Best Tejano Album. With uncle Max Baca on bajo sexto guitar and nephew Josh Baca on accordion, one of the rockingest bands at Rhythm & Roots tore the place up. They provided a little educational tour of their conjunto music, and delivered German polka, Spanish folk, American rock and swampy blues with infectious joy. One highlight was a social-change call, “Down in the Barrio,” describing the barrio as “a prison of our own making,” and “a chain we must break.” Powerful stuff in any language.

—Suzanne Cadgène

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