More than 30 years ago, Celso Piña introduced cumbia into Mexico and established his native Monterrey as the seat of the genre. In this millennium, the accordionist then revolutionized the popular Afro-Latin dance music and its cousin vallenato when he collaborated with acts like Mexican electro-rockers Cafe Tacuba to produce otherworldly fusions. “El Rebelde del Acordeón” remains in demand everywhere.
Much has changed over those decades. Piña’s made his mark on Europe, the U.S., and South America, but he can hardly play his hometown. After a stopover at South by Southwest (see “SXSW Live Shots,” March 18), he returns to Austin for Pachanga Fest. We spoke Spanish with the cumbia pioneer by phone to Monterrey.