He goes by many names: Esteban, Steve, “El Parche,” “accordion wizard,” or even “the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion.” No matter what you call him, though, there’s no denying that Esteban “Steve” Jordan is one of the most innovative and influential accordion players ever to pick up the instrument.
Born in Texas in 1939 as one of 15 children, Jordan was partially blinded as an infant and has worn his trademark eye patch (“el parche”) ever since. He made numerous conjunto records during the early 1960s, but by the end of the decade he started exploring and incorporating other musical styles into his work. He fused Latin jazz, salsa, rock, and blues with traditional rancheras and polkas, bringing new rhythms into the conjunto fold. Jordan also forged ahead with new technology, using electronic devices like phase shifters and fuzzboxes to shape his sound, and collaborating with Hohner on his custom Tex-Mex Rockordeon. In 1982, he was one of the first musicians inducted into the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame.
This Sunday afternoon, there’ll be a concert in Steve’s honor at the H&H Ballroom in Austin. The list of performers is like a “Who’s Who” of Conjunto/Tejano music — Little Joe, Max Baca and the Texmaniacs, Conjunto Los Pinkys, and a special performance by Steve Jordan himself. For those of us who can’t make it to the show, here’s a classic Steve Jordan track that was included on the Legends of the Accordion compilation: