Joshua Tehee

Deal will bring major Latin music acts to Fresno

A flier for Mariachi Festival 2015, which is Aug. 29 at Valdez Hall at the Fresno Convention Center.
A flier for Mariachi Festival 2015, which is Aug. 29 at Valdez Hall at the Fresno Convention Center. Special to The Bee

Anyone who doubts the draw of Latin music in Fresno has not been in attendance at one of the bigger events. They haven’t seen 1,800 people packed inside a sold-out Rainbow Ballroom or the 300 others left out on the street.

“People will show up,” says Jose Martinez, who runs Fresno-based Latin record label and promotions company Hyphy Music Inc. “There is a huge following for this kind of music.”

It is a fairly untapped market that Hyphy Music is looking to expand on as the official promoter of Latin music at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center. In July, the company signed to promote 10 shows over the next year.

It starts Saturday, Aug. 29, with the Mariachi Festival 2015, which brings together two legends of the form — Hector Montemayor and Chelo. The later has retired from music and is returning to the stage just for this show.

In addition, the festival features the young duet Las Azucenas, plus Graciela Ortiz, Mariache Alegre and Mariacho Juvenil Alma De Mexico.

A second concert is scheduled Sept. 26 and will be an “oldies” show that features major Latin artists from the ’70s and ’80s. The lineup includes Los Mier, Los Baron de Apodaca and the King of Cumbia, Fito Olivares. Some of these artists haven’t been in town for more than a decade, Martinez says.

The remaining concerts, scheduled into 2016, will take place at a rate of one a month at one of the convention center’s four buildings, depending on the size and type of show.

The flexibility of the convention center was a major selling point for Martinez. The Mariachi Festival, for example, will be hosted at Valdez Hall, while the Corrido VIP event, which happened in June and was the catalyst for the current contract, was at Selland Arena. At that show, the front half of the floor was configured with table close to the stage. The back half of the set up as a dance floor.

“It gives us the opportunity to place the show in the right venue,” Martinez says.

It has the added benefit of being open to all ages.

The Hyphy deal is part of a larger push by the convention center to fully utilize its facilities by co-promoting certain events, thus sharing its liabilities and the profits on things like food/beverage, ticketing commissions, rent and facility fees.

In the last year and half, the center has hosted about 30 of these co-promoted events, says general manager Bill Overfelt. Combined, the events have added $400,000 in additional net revue, he says.

More than that, they have provided the center a way back into the entertainment side of the business. Along with long-term deals with local promoters like Hyphy, Overfelt is once again dealing with industry giants like Live Nation, which booked the metal band Judas Priest for Oct. 23, and AIG.

“The promoters expect you to potentially share in the profits,” he says.

This deal marks a big shift for Hyphy Music, too.

In the past, the company promoted up to 35 events a year at a variety of venues in the area, from the Rainbow Ballroom to Aldo’s Nightclub. That number will drop to 15 show in 2016 — split between just the Convention Center and Tachi Palace. But these will be large-scale shows with multiple, major-level performers. At least a few of the show (the Mariachi Festival, for one) will become annual events, Martinez says.

It works out nicely then, that the contract can be extended into future years.

“We’ve been struggling for years to find this kind of promoter,” Overfelt says. “The Latin market has been under served. We’re trying to meet that demand now.”

Mariachi Festival 2015

Legends and Idols

  • 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29
  • Valdez Hall, 702 M. St.
  • Tickets: $35
  • (800) 745-300, (559) 355-9518,