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This week’s episode features three generations of La Familia Longoria from Brownsville, Texas. Juan Longoria Sr. has performed for over 50 years throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas as the accordion player and leader of “Los Halcones Del Valle.” His son Juan Jr. continues the family tradition in his group Conteño and as founding director of the conjunto music program at Los Fresnos High School. One alumnus of the program is Juan III, who plays the accordion and bajo-quinto, and in 2018 participated in the Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program.
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(Together, Little Village Foundation & Arhoolie Foundation will match the first $500 donated)
Juan Longoria Sr.
Juan Longoria Sr. was born in “La Palangana,” a small ranch near Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, which is the sister city to Brownsville, Texas, on the Texas-Mexico border. He began playing accordion at the age of 14. The story is that as a ranch hand he would take the cows to pasture, pick a tree to sit under, and practice on the accordion until the sun began to set. Around 1968, about one year after taking up accordion, he began playing with a conjunto in the nearby town of Ramirez, Tamaulipas. In February 1969, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Brownsville, Texas, where in 1970 he formed the conjunto Los Halcones Del Valle, which has performed for over 50 years throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas.
Juan Longoria Jr.
Inspired by the musical influences of his father and uncles (Los Halcones del Valle), Juan Longoria, Jr. co-founded the musical groups Los Potrillos in 1998 and Conteño in 2008 with his brother Federico Longoria. Conteño is representative of the harmonious balance of styles distinctive to regional Texas-Mexican music, including the genres of Conjunto, Tejano, and Norteño. Grupo Conteño, hailing from the border town of Brownsville, TX, has a signature style that is an explosion of upbeat, modern rhythms rooted in traditional sounds. These unique characteristics have created a faithful fan base in the Rio Grande Valley and throughout the state of Texas. Juan has received various individual awards throughout his professional career. Juan was named the 1st place winner at The Big Squeeze accordion competition held by Texas Folklife in June 2007, and was subsequently featured in Hector Galan’s Documentary “The Big Squeeze” released in 2008. In the fall of 2012, Juan was given the opportunity to found a new conjunto music program at Los Fresnos High School in Los Fresnos, TX. This conjunto program has blossomed over the last eight years and now accounts for about 100 students receiving fine arts credit as part of the program. In May 2017, the Texas State Senate issued Senate Resolution 670 to the Los Fresnos High School Conjunto at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas in recognition of their preservation of Texas folk music. In 2016, Conteño was selected to participate in the National Folk Festival circuit including performances and workshops at Montana and Richmond Folk Festivals. In 2019, Juan participated in the Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program.
Juan Longoria III
Juan Longoria III was born into a musical family. He is a third generation musician who began his musical career as a small child following his father and grandfather to gigs just for the fun of it. Juan grew up learning various instruments under the instruction of various family members including his father, grandfather, uncles, and cousins. In 2012, at the age of 11, he qualified for the semi-finals in the Texas Folklife Big Squeeze Accordion Competition. His passion for performing really blossomed as a student at Los Fresnos High School. It is here that he began to play the bajo-quinto and became a member of the largest and most awarded high school conjunto in the state of Texas, Conjunto Halcón, which is directed by his father. As a bajo-quinto player in high school he earned many awards including bajo-player of the year in 2017, 2018, and 2019. He also participated in the Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program in 2018 where he gained training and instruction from his uncle, Federico Longoria, who is a professional bajo-quinto player. Juan continues performing the bajo-quinto professionally as he attends Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, Texas.
ABOUT WORKING FROM HOME
Just about everyone has been affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the music world, no one knows when the box office will open again, and even as many of us return to work in the coming weeks and months, working musicians will continue to be cut off from the clubs, dancehalls, theaters, and festivals that sustain them. And the rest of us will be cut off, too, from something we need now more than ever. So we’re bringing the gigs to the artists, and the artists to you — straight from their living room to yours.
“Working from Home,” a co-production of the Arhoolie Foundation and Little Village Foundation, will feature intimate mini house concerts recorded live by traditional musicians around the country trying to make it through this current public health crisis doing what they do best. For every installment, we will provide links where you can give tips directly to the performers, and we will match the first $500 raised for each.