Bene Medina | Accordion Instructor
Born in Raymondville, Texas in 1939, Bene Medina began playing the accordion at the age of 13, and by the time he was 18, he had started his own conjunto. After serving in the US Army for 2 years, he returned to South Texas, and in 1964 moved to San Antonio, where he has lived since then. He worked at a local utility for 30 years and was the second Mexican American journeyman to become an electrician therein, but always continued his involvement in music. He formed Bene Medina y Conjunto Aguila in 1965, and still actively leads that band. Bene also taught accordion at a local music store for seven years before coming to teach at the Conjunto Heritage Taller almost 15 years ago. After a brief absence we are very happy to welcome Bene Medina back to the Taller, where he will once again be teaching accordion.
Richard Castillo | Bajo Sexto Instructor
Richard Castillo is a veteran musician, having learned to play the bajo sexto instrument at the age of 15. By the age of 19, he was playing professionally with local conjunto bands and recorded a number of single records. He later married, left the music world to focus on work, and to educate and raise his two children. However, his love of conjunto music never wavered and he occasionally continued to play with several local groups when his schedule allowed. Upon retirement, he returned to his beloved conjunto music. He now continues to play with several local conjunto groups, volunteers playing for senior citizens and other worthy causes, and is currently enjoying his role in helping to keep conjunto music alive as the bajo sexto instructor for the CHT!
Jesse Borrego Sr. | Bajo Sexto Assistant Instructor
Jesse Borrego started playing professionally in 1956 while still attending Harlandale High School. After winning a local radio contest, he went on to record several single 45 rpm’s. In the 50s and 60s, Jesse Sr. earned his stripes with his extremely fluid style of making his right-hand fingers dance on his three-row Hohner button accordion. He headed his own band, Los Cuatro Aces de Tejas, playing on the local and national scene through the early 70s. He performed with his son’s band, Los Muertos, throughout most of the 90s and was invited by the late Valerio Longoria to play bass for his band when Longoria was featured on a PBS special. Recently, he has played accordion and bass for the Rio Rami Band. Conjunto Los Borregos is Jesse Borrego Sr. and Jesse Borrego Jr.’s latest project.
Aaron Salinas | Assistant Instructor
Aaron is a native of San Antonio. He attended Baylor University in Waco, TX. Aaron began playing the accordion at a very young age here at Conjunto Heritage Taller and has since gained a strong repertoire in music. One of his most notable music accomplishments is his title of the Conjunto Grand Prize Winner in the 2014 edition of the Big Squeeze. He credits his grandfather for instilling a passion for Conjunto music. Aaron is well-versed on both the accordion and bajo sexto and serves as a CHT instructor and accompanist for our students.
Joey Villanueva | Music Theory Instructor
A graduate of Texas A&M University-Kingsville with a Bachelors degree in Music Education and a minor in Mathematics. Joey’s primary instrument at TAMUK was trumpet, but he has been playing accordion since the age of 10 years old. When he was younger, his parents would take him to the dances at Rosedale Park and Market Square to hear musicians such as Bernardo y Sus Compadres, Flaco Jimenez, Mingo Saldivar, Los Dos Gilbertos, and many more. Joey grew up around Conjunto and Tejano Music and grew a deep love for it. This was mainly influenced by his father, Joe Villanueva Sr. who played accordion in the 1980s with a couple bands in the Schertz-Cibolo area. When he turned 10 years old, his parents asked Joey if he wanted to take accordion lessons and he said yes. Joey started taking lessons at the Conjunto Heritage Taller under the instruction of Lorenzo Martinez in 2003. While a part of the taller, he had the opportunity to perform at a variety of events and work with many talented musicians. He also formed a conjunto group with my fellow musician from the taller, Aaron Salinas. The group performed at a variety of events including the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s Tejano Conjunto Festival and recorded a three-song demo in 2014. M”y love for Conjunto is a big reason why I decided to study music in college,” says Joey. While in college, he had the opportunity to be featured as an accordion soloist within a variety of ensembles including Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, and Symphonic Band.