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Sunday, October 12, 2008

International Accordion Festival: La Villita...

I am continually amazed when I hear of people in San Antonio whining that we have nothing to do when all that one needs is just a little opening of the mind and opening of the newspaper to find loads of fun and interesting activities - for free!

Saturday was a perfect example for my wife and I. After breakfast and a few garage sales, we opened up Friday's Weekender from the Express-News and decided that it was time for a little accordion music. We love to visit the small shops and art galleries in La Villita anyway, so why not do it accompanied by some interesting music?

Now if the first thing that comes to mind is a bunch of fat guys in lederhosen playing oompa music, then, I confess, I was sorta thinking the same thing. But as soon as we pulled into a parking lot off of South Presa Street, that whole idea was gone. We could hear really fantastic sounds bouncing off the rear exterior wall of a large hotel building at the edge of the lot which made for some kind of nice echo. But there was so much more to enjoy inside La Villita, so we headed in. We paid $7.00 for parking, but you can actually park for free if you are willing to walk a bit.
Our first stop was at the Juarez Workshops. I guess the idea was, they had performers from different countries playing their music, and then a moderator who would allow the audience to interact with the act, asking questions about the style and such. Interestingly enough, this one group called Hispano Traditions (I'm not quite sure if that was the group name or the topic) had somehow found themselves in San Antonio with no clothes (I trust this was an airline issue, and not so much a lifestyle choice). Folks from the Spanish Consulate in Houston provided them with the needed apparel and the performance was allowed to go on.La Villita is all about culture and art and that sort of thing, so whenever I walk through there, of course there are tourists enjoying the shopping opportunity, but you also find the local art crowd, or those locals who just enjoy the art crowd. Because we are curious observers of those around us (Okay - let's be honest - we like to look at people and imagine the story behind the appearance), my wife and I seem to always hone in on certain species at the same time.Case in point, who would have thought this nice lady was into the whole accordion thing? We can speculate all we want and that might be wrong, but I suspect she is a Flaco Jimenez groupie.*And this fine gentleman no doubt returned from a safari in Africa and was easing himself back into life in the States. Within a few weeks, he ought to be back into a Spur's shirt and some flip-flops.*These folks are still looking for their bikes.*We moved over to the Maverick Stage (note to readers outside of San Antonio - Maverick is the name of a very famous San Antonio family, not the slogan of a presidential candidate) where we found Curtis Poullard & the Creole Zydeco Band. We really enjoyed these guys.People were moved to spontaneously dance and we sat there and really enjoyed the show. As you sit on the couch watching re-runs of America's Funniest Home Movies and sipping a beer with a plate full of Nachos, there is an entire community of people enjoying life like everyday is the last festival they'll get to attend, and they plan to make the most of it. I'm sure some of these people were inebriated tourists, but as I looked through the crowd, I couldn't help but see the happiness that some people have for something as ordinary as a guy wearing a washboard thing on his chest and keeping rhythm to the music using what looked like the ends of spoons.

One couple in particular really got into it. I can only suspect they have done this before.Common to all San Antonio fiestas and events are the booths full of fried foods, fajitas, beer, margaritas and everything else that will take years off your longevity. Good stuff!We wandered around a bit, looking through some of the art galleries and enjoying fine things we can't afford (or more accurately, aren't willing to afford). San Antonio has several different art districts with galleries and I wonder how many of the people with the "There is never anything to do" crowd have bothered to expose themselves to.We walked out of one of the galleries and noticed a huge crowd of people walking down East Nueva Street and it turned out to be a Walk-a-thon for Juvenile Diabetes. Lots of teams walking, including someone with a huge dog! Hope they brought along a huge burlap sack - just in case they need to comply with the doggie-doo law.Next, we went over to the Cos House and took a few minutes to listen to Charles Thibodeaux & the Austin Cajun Aces. They were set up on what seemed like somebodies front porch and the people loved the music. There was no dance floor, but several folks stood up where they were and danced.Just outside of that venue, the Little Church of La Villita is across the street and there was a family all wishing a freshly married couple wishes as a photographer snapped away.

From there, it was back to the Juarez stage and we really enjoyed Osvaldo Ayala and his band. These folks come complete with dancers who went out into the crowd and pulled people to come up and dance with them. It was pretty neat to see how people just go with the flow and enjoy themselves.

We ended up staying for several hours, listening to the music, watching the people and doing some shopping within the shops. The shopkeepers in La Villita are so friendly and enjoyable. I guess they are used to dealing with tourists all the time but when they talk with a local, they are just as happy to find someone from San Antonio taking the time to enjoy the things we have here.

Won't you make some time to visit downtown San Antonio? There is just so much to do on any given weekend that you can't possibly do everything - and that makes it a challenge, doesn't it? You can see the rest of the pictures and video I took on the Flickr page here.

*Just kidding.


AlanDP said...

Is that one guy playing some kind of high-tech washboard? I've never seen one of those before.

Anonymous said...

Eva says:)

Omgosh I can't wait to go again next year .That was more fun than what I expected.Your right everyone seemed happy and just lively.

Albatross said...

Must be an electric (as opposed to "acoustic") washboard. I wonder if he uses humbuckers.

sid said...

Albatross, I think I ate a really tasty humbucker at Fuddrucker's last week...LOL! Just kidding!

Actually, I had to look that one up. I had never heard the term "humbucker" before. Very interesting!

Dave said...

And just to make life easier for everyone, you can find out what a "Humbucker" is here.

AlanDP said...

Yeah, that was a new word for me, too.

It would be really cool if he had a midi cable coming out of the back of that thing connected to a synth module.

About Your Host

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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