Music For December in Texas

Music Travel Monday

Destination: Texas

Music:  From Texas for a Christmas Night with Tish Hinojosa

By Kerry Dexter

A blue norther sending a crisp edge of winter wind down the plains, a hint of country back roads, a taste of Mexico and the border lands, the wide starry skies of the west, a two step round the Christmas tree, and a scent of mesquite fires in the air: December in Texas weaves its own tapestry, as distinct as are the regions of the state,  and as welcoming. 

Tish Hinojosa

Tish Hinjosa, photo by Kerry Dexter

Tish Hinojosa knows about all that. She grew up in San Antonio as the daughter of parents who had come from Mexico, lived for many years in Austin herself, and has crisscrossed the state from dance halls to symphony halls as a touring musician. She holds all of that in her music on From Texas for a Christmas Night. There’s a waltz,  several carols, look at the Christmas story in a different way, and a song for Hanukah in Spanish among the gifts  she brings.

It is no easy thing to write a good original Christmas song. Think, for one thing, about all the well loved standards already out there.  Hinojosa has done it, though, and more than once. Arbolito, in which she details her annual chats with her Christmas trees across the years, became a part of Christmas for people in Ausitn almost since she first released on an earlier (and now long unavailable) project nearly twenty Christmas seasons ago. It’s good to have the gently funny story about how time changes us and we change and stay the same over the years of holidays back on record again. English and Spanish language versions are equally popular with listeners, and both are on From Texas for a Christmas Night.

Tish Hinojosa Christmas Album

Tish Hinojosa Christmas Album

Building #9 is a look at  how the Christmas story might have happened in a place and time closer to our own. Milagro is a lively anticipation and celebration of the joys of the season. The title track, From Texas on a Christmas Night, offers a quiet seasonal invitation that both evokes and recalls winter under lone star skies. Hanukia is a festive traditional song for Hanukah in Spanish, with Hinojosa’s daughter Nina and son Adam joning in on violin and trumpet, respectively.

A la Nanita Nana is a song which often accompanies Las Posadas, a tradition especially in Hispanic communities at the Christmas season in which the Holy Family’s travel from inn to inn seeking a place to stay is  enacted. It is a meditative song that recalls both the Biblical journey and the southwestern traditions which have come from it.

Hinojosa brings her own touch to another traditional song, too. She frames Silent Night with an upbeat rhythm which is well in the spirit of the song, and sings verses in English, in Spanish, and in a nod to the song’s original language and Hinojosa’s current home base, in German.

Neither Tish Hinojosa nor I live in Austin these days, but there were a good few years there when it just wasn’t the Christmas season until I’d  been to at least one of her holiday concerts and heard her sing Arbolito and Milagro and Building #9. Neither of us lives in the Boston area these days either, but by a twist of circumstance I was in Cambridge one day last December when she and long-time guitar player and major presence on From Texas for a Christmas Night , Marvin Dykhuis, were playing. For a while that night, Club Passim in Harvard Square turned into a little piece of Texas at Christmas.

A Traveler’s Library has visited Texas before.  Texas author Ruth Pennebaker gave insight into another part of the Lone Star state in a guest post during The Great American Road Trip.

Kerry Dexter is a regular contributor  to A Traveler’s Library.

As a policy of A Traveler’s Library, we tell you about affiliate links. The links included here may make it possible for you to listen to excerpts of the music, and the ones to Amazon in this post are affiliate links. If you buy anything through the affiliate links in this post, you will be supporting the site Music Road. Thank you. The  photo of Tish Hinojosa is by Kerry Dexter and is copyrighted. Thank you for respecting this. 

Kerry Dexter

Kerry Dexter is a regular contributor to A Traveler’s Library, bringing her knowledge of music and musicians who share a sense of place and travel. Her work also appears in Journey to Scotland and the Encyclopedia of Ireland and the Americas, among other places. Check out her bio on the contributor’s page to learn more and see her site at Music Road.

Kerry Dexter – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.


Kerry Dexter

About Kerry Dexter

Kerry Dexter is a regular contributor to A Traveler’s Library, bringing her knowledge of music and musicians who share a sense of place and travel. Her work also appears in Journey to Scotland and the Encyclopedia of Ireland and the Americas, among other places. Check out her bio on the contributor’s page to learn more and see her site at Music Road.

4 thoughts on “Music For December in Texas

  1. Great review, your use of descriptive language in the opening passage really brought the feeling of the music to life, even for someone who has never heard!

  2. I just wanted to pass on a comment sent to me directly from a friend who subscribes to A Traveler’s Library. She lives in Texas. Her husband passed away recently, so I think this post meant a lot to her. She said, “Tish was a favorite of Bob’s and mine while she was in Austin. We heard her sing live twice and always enjoyed her voice and the songs she wrote. I had not heard much of her in recent years, and did not know she remarried and lives part of the time in Germany. Her first husband was in her band as I recall.
    Thanks,
    Roz”

  3. Kerry’s review brought back the memory of a Tish Hinojosa concert I attended more than a dozen years ago. The sweetness of Hinojosa’s voice and heart-centered content of her songs left an indelible impression.

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