East Levee Street & East 11th Street
Brownsville, TX 78520
The annual tribute to Conjunto Music Legend Alfredo “Freddie” Gomez, who died September 3, 2005, will be held this coming Labor Day weekend in his adopted hometown of Brownsville. The 5th Annual Freddie Gomez Memorial Conjunto Concert takes place Saturday, September 5, 2015. The Free Family Public event is scheduled from 5 pm to 12 mn in Brownsville’s Historic Downtown District at the corner of E. Levee and 11th Streets. It is being sponsored by the South Texas Conjunto Association, the Brownsville Society for the Performing Arts and the City of Brownsville. The program includes the Memorial Ceremony, Conjunto “Ambassador” Award presentations, Youth-Musician ensembles, a Dance Marathon and three Conjunto performances.
This year, the Rio Grande Valley’s legendary Conjunto, Los Laytons, from Elsa, Texas will be the featured artists for the memorial conjunto venue. Benny, Tony, and Rene, Los Hermanitos Layton, as they were first known as, began playing at parties, barbecues, quinceañeras, baptisms and cantinas in the Edcouch-Elsa area. These gigs helped support the family during the late 1950s and 1960s. The dynamic of the group changed in 1964 when sister, Norfy, joined her brothers. The group transitioned into Los Hermanos Layton and were rebranded as Los Layton (sometimes spelled Los Laytons) after Norfy’s introduction. The style of Los Layton stands out to many local observers, they present fresh, new ideas with their conjunto. One of their concepts is incorporatie alto and tenor saxophones into their distinct form of music. In 1981, Benny introduced the Edcouch-Elsa High School Estudiantina, which made a memorable appearance on The Johnny Canales Show in 1985, performing “La Palma” and “Aquellos Ojitos Verdes.” In 1990, Benny and Edcouch-Elsa High School launched a conjunto program, the first of its kind. On March 26, 2011, Benny was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in Leakey, Texas. Sadly, and the man that touched so many lives, passed away at the young age of 60. A few months later in August 2011, the Yellowjacket Stadium became Benny Layton, Sr. Memorial Stadium after an outpouring of support from fans, friends and family. In 2014, Los Laytons, The Next Generation, was their comeback year, their return took place at BorderFest in March in Hidalgo. The group that got together includes several generations of Layton family members, as well as friends of the family: Norfy on vocals; Paul on drums and vocals; Norfy’s grandson Oscar Gomez on accordion; Bobby Layton on guitar; Jimmy Cano on bass; Gabriel Cabrera on saxaphone; and Benny Layton Jr. as the booking agent. Los Laytons will perform at 8:30 pm and will be followed by the 2015 STCA Most Promising Conjunto Artist and a STCA 2015 Song of the Year nominee and Brownsville native, Katie Lee Ledesma y su Conjunto, and followed by a 2015 STCA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient and a 2015 Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame Inductee, Juan Antonio Tapia y su Conjunto, who also serves as a Co-Director of the STCA Freddie Gomez Brownsville Chapter, completing the 5th annual memorial event performances.
The Concert venue includes a 25-minute marathon dance competition with seven styles and rhythms of Conjunto dance music that starts with a slow Vals (waltz) then progresses to a Bolero, a Redova, a Shotiz, a Cumbia, a Polka and ends with the rapid beat of a Huapango.
Food and beverage concessions will be available and table and chair sitting will be provided. For information, call the STCA Brownsville Chapter, 956-545-8446 or visit conjunto.org.