September 12, 2002 Mingo Saldivar to Perform at the Library of Congress

Press Contact: Craig D’Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-5510

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress presents 2002 NEA National Heritage fellow Mingo Saldivar on Thursday, Sept. 19, at noon on the Neptune Plaza of the Jefferson Building, First and Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C.

The outdoor concert is the seventh in the center’s new series, “Homegrown 2002: The Music of America,” presentations of traditional music and dance, from April to November, drawn from communities across the United States and arranged with the help of state folklorists. Co-sponsoring the concerts are the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. The American Folklife Center’s “Homegrown” series is part of “I Hear America Singing,” a Library of Congress project celebrating America’s music.

San Antonio native and “Tejano conjunto” accordionist Domingo “Mingo” Saldivar has been part of the Texas conjunto music scene since 1947. Tejano conjunto music is an original American creation. The first word, Tejano, refers to Texans of Mexican descent. Conjunto means “group” literally, but speaks of both the dances and instrument—the diatonic button accordion—brought to the Texan Rio Grande valley by German, Polish and Czech immigrants in the late 19th century. Tejanos quickly adopted the raucous instrument as their own and over time, built around it a musical style that came to be strongly identified with their regional culture. Simply called conjunto, its meaning is more of “combo” or “ensemble.”

In Saldivar’s music, country, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll are enthusiastically combined with traditional conjunto rhythms (such as polka, waltz, and “huapango”). A 1992 Grammy nominee for his Rounder recording, “I Love My Freedom, I Love My Texas,” Saldivar and his band have performed at such diverse venues as Wolf Trap, Carnegie Hall and the 1993 presidential inaugural celebration.

In 1995, Mingo Saldivar and his band, Los Tremendos Cuatro Espadas, mounted a tour of African and Middle Eastern nations sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency. By the late 1990s, Saldivar was enjoying great popularity in northern Mexico playing rodeo arenas where (his surprisingly youthful) fans created a dance craze called “Mingomania.” His success in Mexico was fueled by a radio and dance club hit of his rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”–a song that continues to be Mingo’s trademark ending to his high-energy performances.

In May, the Gualdalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Tex., inducted him into the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame, and several weeks later he was notified by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that he had been named a National Heritage Fellow, the nation’s highest honor for traditional artists.

The American Folklife Center’s presentation of Mingo Saldivar y sus Cuatro Espadas is free and open to the public. The inclement weather location for the concert is the Coolidge Auditorium, on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The Jefferson Building is located close to Metro stops at Capitol South (orange and blue lines) and Union Station (red line).

Subsequent concerts for the “Homegrown 2002” series include:

October 4
Santiago Jiminez Jr.

October 8
Bob McQuillan and Old New England – Contra dancing

November 7
Pinetop Perkins with the Bob Margolin Band

November 13
Cellicion Family – traditional Zuni music and dance

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival presentation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

Part of the Kennedy Center’s Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the Millennium Stage helps fulfill the center’s mission to make performing arts widely accessible. The Millennium Stage introduces the performing arts to the local community and to millions of people who visit the center each year. These free, 6:00 p.m. performances are offered 365 days a year. Tickets are never required. Daily broadcasts of Millennium Stage concerts are available on the Internet. For a schedule and information on how to access the broadcasts, visit the Kennedy Center Web site:


PR 02-123
ISSN 0731-3527