The Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum in San Benito will re-open on Saturday, Feb. 18, after years of closure due to the pandemic.
The museum commemorates the music and people of conjunto, a style that comes from South Texas and northern Mexico. It’s a mashup of instruments and genres that were popular there in the late 19th century. The accordion and bajo sexto – a twelve-string bass guitar – are two of its hallmarks. It was the music of working-class folks – a joyful soundtrack for day-to-day life.
The museum is the brainchild of Rey Avila. Now it’s operated by his daughter, Patricia Avila. She spoke to the Texas Standard about the history of conjunto, and what it means to move the museum into a new space. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: Congratulations on the new digs. It’s a big deal for the museum and for San Benito itself, which I understand has a close relationship with conjunto music, to say the least. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Patricia Avila: Yes, you’re correct. Yes, we are known as the birthplace of conjunto music here in San Benito, Texas. And the reason we feel we’ve got that right is because Narciso Martínez is considered the father of conjunto music. He grew up in a little small community outside of San Benito called La Paloma. And that’s why we claim Narciso Martínez as our own.