Author Documents Roots Of Tejano

Ramiro Burr's guide describes border music in all its variations, from Little Joe y la Familia to Selena and beyond.

When Tejano star Selena was murdered in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1995, the outpouring of emotion over the young woman's fate shone a spotlight on what many had considered a regional music confined to the Texas/Mexico border area.

Billboard Books Senior Editor Bob Nirkind's interest was piqued, and he began plans to publish a guide to the music. A perfect fit to write it was San-Antonio Express News music critic Ramiro Burr, who'd been covering the regional musics of the border for 15 years.

The result was "The Billboard Guide to Tejano and Regional Mexican Music." Sales of the book, published last summer, have topped 10,000, according to the Associated Press, and a second printing of 3,000 is in the works.

Beginning with an article tracing the musical and marketing background of Tejano, Burr then offers an encyclopedia of biographical entries of artists in the genre, ranging from Los Tigres del Norte to Narciso Martinez, from

Shelley Lares to Mazz.

Each entry includes Burr's suggestions of the artist's best recordings. There's also a chronology of musical developments, a glossary of musical terms and styles and Burr's lists of his top 10 albums and songs in Tejano, conjunto, norteno, mariachi/ranchera and trio/bolero.

"This book is long overdue," Tex-Mex pioneer Little Joe, of Little Joe y La Familia, said.

Tejano, a simmering mixture of rock, country, conjunto, norteno and blues, along with a dash of big-band horns, first came to popularity in the 1950s with Little Joe y La Familia, and saw a resurgence with Selena — whose 1991 hit, "Ven Conmigo" (RealAudio excerpt), was the first Tejano record to go gold — and country and Tejano star Emilio Navaira in the 1990s.

Burr told the AP that he predicts another boom for Tejano, which he calls "one of the coolest music genres on the American landscape."

He'll appear at two San Antonio bookstores this weekend with musicians Mingo Sladivar, Valerio Longoria, Chalito Johnson and others to sign books and CDs. They will be at the Borders Books in Huebner Oaks Mall on Friday and Quarry Mall on Saturday. Burr also will appear at San Antonio's Westfall Library on May 17 to discuss the book-writing process.