AUSTIN, Texas – Austin-based Selena tribute group Bidi Bidi Banda are returning to live performances in Austin for the first time in 15 months since the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many local musicians grapple with closures, Stephanie Bergara, the group’s director and lead singer, said her team lost around $ 50,000 in canceled shows in 2020.
Although the pandemic will temporarily silence their music, Bergara says they are back with a bigger voice for change.
âSo today we’re getting ready to announce a ton of shows, we’re playing at the House of Blues, where we’ve played it before,â Bergara says from a booth in the back corner of the Austin restaurant, Latina property, Taquero. Mucho.
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Bergara meets us between juggling a day job with the city of Austin, resending reservation emails, juggling press interviews, speaking engagements, group exercises, and being a single mom.
“It’s interesting not to do that anymore [band work] every day for six years and then stop altogether, âsays Bergara.
They started Bidi Bidi Banda over five years ago and Bergara says that since the day they first performed at an Austin music festival, things have snowballed in terms of the band’s success. .
“Thank you for spending your Sunday evening with us, we are Bidi Bidi Banda”, says Bergara in an Instagram post at the height of the pandemic. Like the rest of the world, they were forced to go online.
“It’s terrifying to think I sat home in quarantine eating chicken nuggets with my baby, I’m not singing, what’s that sound like?” Bergara said, thinking of the long list of upcoming shows, they’re already booked.
Bergara says the closures have opened her eyes to new possibilities to continue to use their voice for change.
âIn June of last year, I was sitting at home, another Saturday, with no show and for me, a native of Austin, I was watching people cross the freeway from East Austin to downtown where it is. find the hospital and where the police department is, I It was like I had never seen this before, âBergara recalls when the city of Austin, like other cities in the country, erupted in protests for social justice after the murder of George Floyd.
“It resonated with me and I was like, what can I do? How do we show that we are in solidarity, we are in solidarity with this group of people and how can we show that we are not going to let this happen more? “
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Taking the example of fellow Austin musician Jackie Venson, Bergara said things would change for Bidi Bidi Banda in the name of social justice.
âWe have a diversity clause in our contract that says we will review the booking practices of anyone who contacts us and if we feel we are being used to helping you meet a quota or to helping you book a Latin night once a year and you don’t have a large investment in hiring people of color, we’re going to cancel our own show, âsays Bergara.
Their show has its origins in diversity. The group pays tribute to Selena Quintanilla, a woman who, 25 years after her death, still helps break down barriers.
âIt’s no secret that the music industry is largely run by white males and I think we can turn that around,â says Bergara.
In 208, Bidi Bidi Banda became the first latin group play Austin’s Blues on the Green during their nearly 30-year festival existence.
âSelena meant so much to so many people including myself and I just feel like she hasn’t lost any momentum. She was the first person I saw on TV who looked like she could be. linked to me, âsays Bergara.
Initially, Bergara admits it was a heavy burden, trying to be like Selena, until she claims her own place in the scene.
âI’ve spent my whole life trying to look like Selena by doing makeup, I’ve spent my whole life trying to be like Selena, but I think there’s a beauty and an inspiration in the way that she sent me on my own trip, âBergara said, adding that she had no intention of being the next Selena. She describes the group as the Stephanie and Bidi Bidi Banda show playing Selena music.
As the world returns together in 2021, Stephanie and Bidi Bidi Banda are back on their way with a refocused vision on change in the music industry in Austin and beyond.
She says the change starts off being very intentional on the group’s first show in Austin after 40s.
The show is in a restaurant owned by a Latin woman, Gabriela’s South Austin, not by chance, says Bergara.
As she finishes putting on her bright red lipstick from the Mac Selena collection, Bergara says this show means a lot, knowing that her family and friends from the Dove Springs area are in the crowd.
“I finished it all here, ok we are all ready!” Bergara said walking towards the stage.
“Alright Austin! Help us!” Bergara then says that the group’s speakers make a rumble from a car engine for their opening show, La Carcaha.
“The most special moment I think about watching the shows is when someone hears their favorite Selena song and closes their eyes and sings on it and it’s carried away, so no matter where in his mind, it reminds him of the beauty of this music “
A reminder that all voices of all colors deserve a place in Austin.
Bergara says she is working on recording her own music in English and plans to release her first single Summer of 2021.
The band’s next concert in Austin, not yet officially announced, will take place on July 13 at 3ten ACL live.
For more information, follow them online.