By ROSARIO SALGADO HALPERN
The Marfa Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual festival, and this year the chamber is planning a great event.
This year’s event is co-presented by Ballroom Marfa. The arts and culture organization is partnering with the Marfa Chamber of Commerce to help fund and organize the concert, which takes place on the future site of the Ballroom Drive-In, an ambitious project that will reestablish the 21-acre Vizcaino Park as a state-of-the-art performance venue and community gathering space.
Three-time award winner AJ Castillo is known for his unique accordion sound and style, his energetic live performances, and his extraordinary custom accordions.
Having lent his musical talent to many artists through countless studio recordings and performances, in late 2008 he felt it was time to step to the front of the stage and introduce a fresh new sound that expands the boundaries of accordion music.
With the release of his debut CD, Who I Am, followed by, On My Way, and The MixTape (which is a power-cumbia CD), the DVD Up Close and Personal and the New Movement, AJ has embarked on a new journey as a well-known accordionist, singer, and performer.
AJ sings and plays the accordion and is joined on stage by his younger brother Sergio on vocals and his father Arturo on alto saxophone and vocals. Other band members are Alex Pulido on trumpet, keys and vocals; Leroy Esparza, bajo sexto and guitar; Pedro Rodriguez on bass; and Duran Bermea on drums and percussion.
In 2009 AJ kicked off the Tejano Music National Convention in Dallas and in 2010 became a three-time award winner, being named the Tejano Music Awards Best New Male Artist and the Tejano Academy’s Best Accordion Player and Best Emerging Artist.
“The first time I saw and heard AJ Castillo, competing in the inaugural Big Squeeze competition in Houston, he blew me away,” said Joe Nick Patoski, the Texas music and culture writer and Marfa Public Radio music show host. “A skilled accordionista descended from a storied musical family, an engaging singer, and an all-around entertainer, A.J.’s the real deal: he’s a solid conjunto player respectful of traditions, but constantly expanding his boundaries and redefining his music, while keeping the crowds moving on the dance floor. Twenty-first century Tejano music never sounded so good.”
Influenced by his grandfather, accordionist Lupe Moreno, and by his musician father, AJ began playing the accordion at the age of 10 and began his professional music career at 13. Today, this young talented musician is reaching Latin music fans all over the world and is being recognized by professionals in the Latin music industry. In a short period of time, he has accomplished many great things.
Hilary Rivera of Austin and formerly of Marfa had this to say about AJ Castillo and his band in an email to the Marfa Chamber of Commerce: “I want to recommend a Tejano group for the 2013 festival. AJ Castillo and his band are from Austin. He plays the accordion and his brother Sergio does some of the singing. They also have an awesome stage setup. I’ve been to several shows and every one is better than the last. What I love about them is they stay till every fan has been talked to, every autograph has been signed and every picture has been taken, both during intermission and after the show. They are very down to earth and I promise if you brought them you would not be disappointed.”