Park Happenings: Juan Manuel Barco brings Tex-Mex to the park

<I>Photo provided</I><BR>Juan Manuel Barco and his Tex-Mex band will perform a free concert at Cape Disappointment State Park, Saturday Aug. 11, at 2 p.m.

You are invited to attend the fifth performance of the Waikiki Beach Concert Series at Cape Disappointment State Park. This Saturday, Mexican-American singer and songwriter Juan Manuel Barco and his Tex-Mex Band will be performing songs in English and Spanish from the Texas-Mexican border corrido tradition. This concert is free and open to the public.

Juan was born in Coal Mine, Texas (La Mina). Eventually this community became part of Lytle, Texas. His family began migrating within Texas and eventually to other states following the harvests in order to work. He taught himself to play guitar as a 6-year-old and was initially influenced by traditional Mexican music, Texas conjunto music and Texas orchestra music. In 1960 he began playing the bajo sexto (12 string guitar tuned an octave lower than the traditional guitar.)

Juan came to the Northwest when he was in the U.S. Army in 1966. He has lived in this area since and has played his music in a diverse number of venues. About 10 years ago, he joined with Northwest Folklife and played at the 1997 Follklife Festival and at the Norte y Sur Festival in 1998. Juan also produced a CD with Northwest Folklife titled, "Norte y Sur, Un Solo Pueblo," which means "North and South, One People." This album was a collaborative effort encompassing Mexican, Chicano and Tejano musical traditions.

Recently, he has played at several Washington State Parks as part of the Folk and Traditional Arts in the Park Program. This summer alone, Juan has already played at Deception Pass and Wenberg State Parks. For these concerts, Juan performs conjunto music; he plays the bajo sexto, while his bandmates join him on the accordion, bass guitar and drums.

According to Juan, his emphasis is on diversity and education for all children. He has performed in multiple universities, colleges and public high and elementary schools. Juan has a master's degree in social work from the University of Washington. According to Folklife, "Barco is an inspiration to the largely assimilated Chicano community who take pride in their Mexican-American heritage and language - he is known for his deeply moving and personal original corridas and baladas."

Please join me at the beach on Saturday afternoon for this special program hosted by Washington State Parks and funded in large part by the Folk and Traditional Arts Program. Other indispensable partners for the Waikiki Beach Concert Series include our local non-profit grups supporting our parks: the Friends of the Columbia River Gateway, the Washington State Parks Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Washington State Arts Commission.

Jon Schmidt is an Interpretive Specialist at Cape Disappointment State Park. To contact him, call the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at 642-3029 or e-mail lcic@parks.wa.gov.

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