August 2, 2023 819 PM
PRESIDIO — On Friday, Presidio celebrated an important milestone: its first year participating in Viva Big Bend, an annual music festival that draws big crowds to local venues. Local rock outfit Zauna started off the show, and veteran Viva act Bidi Bidi Banda, the original Selena tribute band, provided the soundtrack for the rest of the night.
Bidi Bidi Banda lead singer Stephanie Bergara said though her band travels around the country, they still felt the Presidio show was special. “We’re always going to places we’ve never been before, but we felt very much at home,” she said. “We were setting up the stage, and we could see Mexico in the distance. How cool is that?”
The band is the original Selena tribute in the state of Texas. They call themselves an “all-star” collective, but they’ve earned the title — all of the band’s members have extensive experience playing Tejano music and perform in other acts besides their Selena-centric performances.
Still, they felt pressure to give the Presidio crowd an extra-special performance. “We really pride ourselves on being a tribute band from Texas and understanding that music in a different way,” she said. “But it takes a really special kind of performer to be embraced by the folks way out west. For lack of better words, you can’t fake the funk in West Texas.”
For Bergara, performing Selena’s music in front of crowds like the one in Presidio was an especially powerful experience. “She was the first person I saw on television who looked like she could be related to me,” she said. “I’m only 37 years old — it’s strange to think that it wasn’t that long ago.”
Selena was Bergara’s idol growing up, and she was only eight years old when Selena was murdered by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, in 1995. Bergara felt that these tragic events were overshadowed by all the massive changes the country faced in the new millennium — leaving only the singer’s most die-hard fans to carry on her legacy. “I feel like it got hidden in history,” she said.
As a result, she has deeply-held beliefs about how to honor the singer, who was only 24 when she passed away — leaving a lot of questions about how she would have carried on her career and grown as an artist.
Bergara feels that her job is to interpret the music, not to imitate Selena and freeze her in time. Unlike many other tribute acts, she doesn’t dress in the singer’s iconic outfits — no purple bodysuit, no bejeweled bustiers. “I only ever wanted to make the music, and I feel like that’s what she would have wanted,” Bergara said. “She would have wanted young Latina women to make their own way.”
As a collective, Bidi Bidi Banda is crossing their fingers for an opportunity to return to Viva Big Bend next year. It’s all a part of their greater mission to share the singer’s singular music catalog and her fierce independent spirit with the world. “She was a person who impacted my universe,” Bergara said. “Selena was so special, and she was part of a moment in time where Tejano music was the center of everything.”