Nicolas Valdez didn't choose to play the accordion. It chose him.
"It wasn't until later that I think I really learned to appreciate the value of that culture," Valdez said.
He started playing at the age of nine, and was strongly influenced by his father and grandfather.
"Throughout the years, that was the foundation for me to find my own voice, as a member of this community, specifically from San Antonio, as a young, you know, Mexican American male," he said.
Valdez found that voice as a performer. Not just with his music, but on the stage. He created a one-man play he stars in called "Conjunto Blues."
"Most of the stuff we see is fairly either stereotypical or very romanticized view of Mexican American culture," Valdez said. "I wanted to do something that was very honest. it was very important for me to create a show where, where people see themselves reflected in that."
Most of his show is inspired from his own upbringing and personal experiences. Growing up on the southside of San Antonio, and being introduced to the world of Conjunto music.
"In my opinion, Conjunto music really, is sort of the soundtrack to the Mexican American working class experience," he said. "The accordion itself is something that's found, you know, in almost every culture around the world. It's a very universal story, as specific and regional as it is to South Texas and San Antonio experience."
Because of the pandemic, Nicolas was unable to perform his show to a live audience, so this year he took "Conjunto Blues" to the silver screen. His goal is to entertain and to educate, but at the heart of it to tell an honest story.
"To remind people that, you know, we are a valuable part of this country, that we are an integral part of the cultural fabric of this country," Valdez said. "Ultimately, the show's about the preservation of culture, it's about passing on traditions, you know, from one generation to the next."
There will be a virtual screening of "Conjunto Blues" on May 21st as part of the 39th annual Tejano-Conjunto Festival. It will followed by a "Q and A" with Valdez. He will also be hosting a workshop on May 22nd as part of the festival as well.
For more information on Conjunto Blues, visit his website here.