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Fidencio is one of the extended Cantu family who sings and plays a mix of Tejano/Norteno/TexMex/Gospel/Original music in the group Nuevo Nacimiento. Photo by Phil Houseal

For bookings or to buy CDs of Nuevo Nacimiento, call 830-644-2373 or email nuevonacimiento@hotmail.com. Information available at www.myspace.com/nuevonacimiento. The group plays every Thursday evening for Calvary Temple Church's Spanish services starting at 7 p.m.

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Nuevo Nacimiento

by Phil Houseal
May 7, 2008

You never know where the road to redemption will lead.

It might be through Tivydale Business Park, where one evening I heard the muffled thumping of a bass guitar. At first I assumed it was a car with sub-woofers passing by. But when it did not fade, I stepped out of my green van and followed the sound to the back entrance of Calvary Temple church. Inside I found six young men playing a spirited cumbia.

"We are Nuevo Nacimiento," announced Fidencio Cantu, the button accordion player, when the song ended. In spite of my creaky Spanish they explained that meant "rebirth."

The name is appropriate because the group considers its musical mission is to encourage young people to make the right life choices.

Fidencio Cantu, Jeremiah Cantu, Jimmy Cantu, Leon Perez, Lazaro Woo, and A.J. Rosa were rehearsing on the night I stumbled in. Though the oldest does not look old enough, they have played together for 30 years, and nearly all graduated from Fredericksburg High School.

Apparently there is a Cantu family musical heritage, with various uncles and fathers performing as Los Manantiales, a word that means springs or fountains. These guys sprang from some genuine musical talent.

"Fidencio has been coming up with music since he was a kid," said Jimmy Cantu proudly. "We were all inspired by our uncles. Our families are all musicians."

They were also influenced by a menudo of musical styles. Asked to describe their sound, they threw out words like Tejano mix, Conjunto, and Norteno.

Fidencio had an epiphany. "You can say we invented our style, whatever you want to call it," he said. Much of it is original music. One of the tunes they were rehearsing they wrote while in high school.

For the extended Cantu family, music is not the message; music is the method to spread the message.

"Music won't save you," Jimmy said. "You could be the best musician, but music won't save you. Our focus is on the youth. There is so much stuff going on out there with drugs and bad influences. We want to put up a picture that there is a better life. We are Christians. We believe that God is the answer to everything."

Consequently, every song they sing carries a message to the younger generation, to turn them from any bad influence to something better.

"Most bands just promote their music, but our main focus is to put our message out there first, then the music," Fidencio said. "Music will always be music, but if you don't have a positive message, why even have that music? We just spread the good news."

For all that spreading, too few people even know this band exists. Perhaps that's because while they play joyous, danceable tunes, they refuse to play in dance halls and beer joints. But they are worth hearing, and their church always welcomes listeners.

Chances are Nuevo Nacimiento will continue to lead followers along its positive path for years to come. After all, this family band has a secret weapon.

Fidencio smiled. "We still have young Cantu kids coming up, too."