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Dallas-based artist manager Lorenzo Zenteno wants to shine a light on Latin and Hispanic artists. He’s off to a good start: Next Saturday, July 31, will mark the launch of the inaugural Centro Popular festival in Fort Worth.
Named after a now closed Fort Worth record shop owned by Zenteno’s mother, Centro Popular boasts a lineup of several Latin singers and rappers and local Latin-owned vendors. The performers include Frankie J, Baby Bash, Twista and King Lil G.
“On the surface, it’s the first all-Latin festival to hit Fort Worth in 12 years,” Zenteno says. “But to me, it’s so much more meaningful. This event pays homage to the legacy of my mother. … It truly is an event for us, by us.”
When choosing headliners, Zenteno wanted to pick artists who best represent Latin music culture and those with whom the community most identifies. He specifically is having Selena’s former guitarist and widow Chris Perez do a meet and greet, as he “felt he embodies so much to our people.”
Centro Popular will also highlight rising Texas Latin artists. When putting together the bill, Zenteno made a conscious decision to pick artists representing various regions in the state; Krystall Poppin from El Paso, AJ Hernz from San Antonio, Castro Escobar from Houston, Austin-born, Dallas-based xBvalentine, Renizance from Fort Worth and High Rollaz from Dallas.
“A lot of these acts have never played a festival,” Zenteno says, “so I factored in sweat equity and who I felt truly deserved this opportunity.”
Centro Popular comes as a partnership between Premier Live, of which Zenteno is president, and Fort Worth-based event production company Fortress Presents. It also marks the grand opening of Wild Acre Live, a new outdoor, two-stage venue where the artists will perform.
“It’s an honor for the Fortress team to have the trust in my vision to consider this their grand opening,” Zenteno says. “They have had two soft opening events, but it’s exciting to know that we are all in, and they believe in this event as much as I do.”
Fortress co-founder Ramtin Nikzad hopes Centro Popular, as well as other upcoming Wild Acre events, will fill the void of Fortress Festival, which, due to COVID, was canceled for two consecutive years. Despite restrictions loosening up, the crew behind these festivals still encourages guests to remain courteous and cautious.
“It’s something that we’re keeping close tabs on,” Nikzad said in an interview with Fort Worth Magazine. “As of now, I think we could have it at an open-air space and allow people to move around freely while still taking reasonable measures like encouraging masking.”
Vendors at Centro Popular include Fort Worth’s Trinity River Distillery and the Latin-owned Frezko Taco Spot, Chicano Style, Sweets and Berries by Janelle and AB Tapitas. As Latinx and Hispanic representation is growing, both in mainstream media and Dallas’ creative scene, Zenteno wants to prioritize these communities and give them a platform..
“We have always existed and there has always been a scene within our scene, but we have never been universally acknowledged, despite our credentials,” Zenteno says. “Events like this truly put our people and our movement [at the] forefront to show that we have so much strength in numbers. [Centro Popular] will the lay the groundwork of something that I intend to continue to move forward. Our buying power will not be denied.”
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