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The Rio Grande Music Fest is already a much-awaited tradition for the Valley. Talent, music, fun and a great time is what Winter Texans have come to expect at Music Fest 2011. Music Fest, in its 14th edition, will feature top performers, like Red Johnson, John Rex Reeves, the Redhead Express, Betty Rydell and Noel Cortez.
And if that weren’t enough, Grupo Folklórico Ozomatli and The Mariachis Los Lobos from La Joya ISD will also perform, putting on a high-quality, award-winning performance that has become a La Joya tradition.
The best part about the Rio Grande Children’s Home Music Fest is this is an annual fundraiser for the Children’s Home, providing much-needed services for 36 abused and neglected children housed at the home.
As it has become a well-received tradition, Music Fest is welcoming back Rich Bellert as producer, entertainer and master of ceremonies.
Rich Bellert began producing country music shows in the Rio Grande Valley in the winter of 2000. This year, in addition to acting as master of ceremonies, Rich Bellert will entertain with cowboy poetry. His unique style of delivery is entertaining, and while the poetry isn’t his own, the pieces he selects to share with his audiences are often based on the writer’s true-life experiences, or vivid imagination in describing the “cowboy life”.
Noel Cortez is a member of the choir at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church who started singing in the second grade at Castro Elementary when he asked to take part in the school’s choir. He continued through sixth grade as part of the elementary choir.
In junior high he added UIL activities and band, drama, and one act play activities to his choir participation. In eighth grade he was selected for All State Choir. As a high school freshman he participated in the Men’s Varsity Choir and earned a Division I in solo/ensemble. As a junior he made the All State Choir.
He enjoys acting and has taken part in several school plays and Theatre with McAllen Parks and Recreation.
Music Fest welcomes back Red Johnson. He has been singing and writing his own music for over 50 years. While playing with friends during his military service, Red was known as the "Minnesota Hillbilly.” After his discharge from the Air Force he began playing professionally and still does.
Johnson is best known for his song written with Bud Auge, “There’s a Grand Ol’ Opry Show Playing Somewhere.” Johnson also co-wrote another hit, “Taxi Cab Driver,” with Dave Dudley and Bud Auge.
Red is a charter member of the Country Music Association, the Rock & Country Hall of Fame, The National Traditional Hall of Fame and was listed in Country Music’s Book of Who’s Who in 1966 and 1970.
The Redhead Express
Those who enjoy bluegrass and family bands will love the Redhead Express, a high-energy, family band featuring the Walker family from Alaska, who took the Valley by storm last year. In addition to bluegrass, they perform gospel, traditional music, Irish country and old-time music. They throw in a bit of clogging and family humor to produce winning shows.
The Redhead Express was nominated for Best Family Show and Best Instrumental Show while performing in Branson. Daughter Alyssa was nominated for Best Female Entertainer, while Megan was nominated for Best Fiddle Artist. La Rae was nominated for Best Banjo Artist while Kendra received the Female Committee Chair Award.
In 2010 the Midwest Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music nominated the Walkers for Entertaining Group of the Year. Father, Brett Walker, was named Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year. The family was also awarded “CD of the Year” for their CD “Paintin’ the Town Red.”
John Rex Reeves
John Rex Reeves was born and reared in Panola County, Texas, and grew up listening to country music on the famous Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was first inspired by Hank Williams and later by his uncle, the late Jim Reeves. The John Rex Reeves Show presents an array of country and country classic tunes. He also enjoys doing a Jim Reeves tribute consisting of songs made famous by his uncle.
New to the Rio Grande Valley Betty Rydell is well-known and popular with Winter Texans from the Midwest. She learned to yodel by the age of eight. Three years later, she made her debut on Alexandria’ KXRA radio playing guitar and singing “I Love You Because.” Music and entertainment have been her life since then.
She sings a variety of songs, plays many musical instruments, and has appeared with stars such as Barbara Mandrell, Charlie Pride, Conway Twitty, Ernest Tubb, Tex Ritter, Carl Perkins, Marvin Rainwater and LeRoy Van Dyke, to name a few.
She won the coveted Entertainer of the Year Award presented by the Country Entertainers Association of the Upper Midwest and has been inducted into the Minnesota Rock and Country Hall of Fame in Minneapolis.
Grupo Folklorico Ozomatli and Mariachis Los Lobos
Grupo Folklorico Ozomatli and Mariachis Los Lobos, the folkloric dance and mariachi troupes from Palmview High School in the La Joya Independent School District will perform as part of the Rio Grande Children’s Fest. Part of a program that was started in the La Joya ISD many years ago as a way to keep at risk students in school, the program has mushroomed into one that is found in many school districts across the state of Texas and the Southwest to teach Hispanic students of their rich cultural heritage.
In their short three-year trajectory, the Palmview High School mariachi and folklorico groups have made a name for themselves as they have excelled and participated in various performances and competitions around the Rio Grande Valley and Texas.
Mariachi “Los Lobos” received a first place trophy at the Zapata Mariachi festival along with “Best Vocals”, “Best Armonia” and “Best Violins” awards in 2010. A third place trophy was awarded to the group at the University of Texas Pan American FESTIBA Mariachi Competition, and recently Mariachi Los Lobos have made the finals in the All State Mariachi Competition. Members of the mariachi have also received top ranking chairs in the Region 15 All-Valley Mariachi in 2010.
Grupo Folklorico “Ozomatli” has participated in various concerts and national folklorico festivals. Various members of the dance group have received scholarship awards to The University of New Mexico and some graduating members are part of professional dance ensembles around the United States. Two members of the dance group were finalists for the National Foundation for the Achievement of the Arts.
Music Fest 2011 will take place on Saturday, Jan. 29, in the La Joya Performing Arts Center, 604 N. Coyote Drive, at 1 p.m. Tickets will be available for $12 at the Rio Grande Children’s Home at 3780 N. Bentsen Palm Drive, Mission; Buckner offices in Harlingen at 1713 E. Tyler Ave.; Alamo Chamber of Commerce; and the Winter Texan Times office at 1217 N. Conway, Mission. For more information, call the Children’s Home at 585-4847.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.