Salsa del Rio honored by Downbeat Magazine


By Marc Speir

University News Service

Aug. 10, 2007

SAN MARCOS -- Salsa del Rio , an Afro-Cuban incarnation of the School of Music at Texas State University-San Marcos, was recently crowned best recording of the year for the blues, pop and rock category by Downbeat Magazine.

The band won the award for the ensemble’s work on “Lloraras y lloraras,” its fifth album release. Coordinator of multicultural music John Lopez says that the group has evolved since it started as a class in 1995 and is now making its mark nationally.

“We’ve grown from eight people into two full groups with two classes of 15 each,” Lopez said. “The quality is also so much higher.”

The Downbeat Magazine award is an honor because of its ties to the academic community. Calling itself the monthly bible of jazz, blues, and roots music,” the publication is highly regarded by industry insiders.

“The magazine celebrates the scholastic side of music,” Lopez said. “This is considered the Grammy award for student groups.”

Lopez pointed out that Salsa del Rio has won several awards, including best salsa band of the year the last three years in a row at the “Premios a la Musica Latina” ceremony hosted by Univision in San Antonio . The “Premios” pitted the ensemble against both school bands and professional groups across Texas .

Salsa del Rio recently returned from playing the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and is scheduled to play the prestigious Notre Dame Jazz Fest’s 50th anniversary in February.

“The Notre Dame festival hand-picked the best acts they’ve had over the years,” Lopez said. “This shows the quality of our performances and that people are really entertained when they see us.”

Texas State continues to build on its multicultural music program, attracting more and more students interested in international music.

“We’ve just started a master’s in Latin Music,” Lopez said. “We’re also in the process of getting a doctorate approved in multicultural music.”

Salsa del Rio will play Paws Preview at Strahan Coliseum on August 18 and at George’s on campus every other Friday starting in September.