Happy In Bag

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Not So Frigid Flaco

When Flaco Jimenez launched into "Blues Eyes Crying In the Rain," the throng on the dance floor instantly evaporated. The party resumed when he and his small band followed the country standard with a traditional nortena.

It’s not easy being Flaco Jimenez. In his lengthy career as the preeminent border musician, Jimenez has enjoyed success in a variety of settings. Along with brother Santiago, he’s the successor to his famous accordionist father, has been a frequent sideman for rock acts including the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones, collaborated with folk artists like Peter Rowan, and was a celebrated member of Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornados.

While each of these constituencies were represented among the approximately 1,000 in attendance at his performance Saturday night at the Fiesta In the Heartland festival at Crown Center in Kansas City, the vast majority were ardent fans of Jimenez’s traditional corridos. Still, Jimenez insisted on playing a bit of everything during his first set, although selections like crossover hit "Who Were You Thinking Of" clearly displeased most.

The knowledge that the stage was on the former site of an ice skating rink only added to the night’s frigid temperature. Yet Jimenez was in great spirits, joking about his drinking and warmly addressing his fans. He closed his first set with a wacky polka reading of "La Felicidad." I left on that high note, realizing that while Jimenez has many talents, he wouldn’t be able keep the temperature above fifty degrees.


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