SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) — To celebrate the holiday season, Cameron County hosted a Christmas tree lighting festival with national music acts performing at the event.

Tommy DeCarlo, the lead singer of hard rock legends Boston, headlined the night at the Cameron County Amphitheater along with Hotel California, an Eagles tribute band, and Rudy Cardenas, a former American Idol contestant known for singing Journey songs.

The night began with the lighting of a Christmas tree near the amphitheater right off the shoreline.

The tree lit at the inaugural Cameron County Christmas Tree Lighting Festival (ValleyCentral/Nathaniel Puente)

Fireworks blasted into the sky as the tree was lit shortly after comments from Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., who expressed joy in the county’s ability to hold this event.

“It’s great to be able to do something like this with how crazy the last two years have been [because of the pandemic],” said Treviño.

Musicians carried the same sentiments on stage, with each band taking the time to thank the crowd for coming out and supporting live music.

“We missed being able to do this and it’s awesome that we get that chance again,” said Cardenas.

Hotel California opened the music for the night. The band is billed as “the original tribute to the Eagles” due to their 35-year commitment to giving an authentic performance of Eagles music.

Hotel California performs at the Cameron County Amphitheater (ValleyCentral photo/Nathaniel Puente)

The band uses three of their band members as singers to emulate the various vocalists that the Eagles have used across their 50 years as a group.

Whether your favorite Eagles song is sung by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, or even Timothy Schmit, Hotel California will have the means to deliver the goods.

Hotel California played a good mix of Eagles hits, with “Take It Easy,” “Desperado,” and, of course, “Hotel California” being some of the highlights.

The band mentioned some Eagles trivia about Joe Walsh’s talkbox, acknowledged how thankful they were to be away from their native Canada’s winter season, and made a truly memorable experience for those in attendance.

Rudy Cardenas performs at the Cameron County Amphitheater (ValleyCentral photo/Nathaniel Puente)

Following up Hotel California was Rudy Cardenas, who performed songs by Journey. Cardenas’s first claim to fame came in 2007, when he advanced to the Top 24 on Season 6 of American Idol after performing “Open Arms” by Journey.

Cardenas has shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, and Bruno Mars, among others and his vocals have been used on shows such as Family Guy, Modern Family, and Reel Steel.

Cardenas and his band performed some of Journey’s biggest hits, including “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Separate Ways,” and “Faithfully.”

Cardenas, left, and August Zadra, right, have released an album together in 2020 (ValleyCentral photo/Nathaniel Puente)

The band amped up the crowd as they witnessed Cardenas sing a flawlessly reminiscent performance of former Journey singers Steve Perry and Gregg Rolie.

DeCarlo then hit the stage and made his mark as the headlining act. Boston has toured across the globe with DeCarlo as their singer, a position he has held since 2007.

He was first discovered by the band shortly after the death of original Boston vocalist Brad Delp in 2007. DeCarlo posted a vocal performance dedicated to Delp on his MySpace page and later sent it to Boston management.

Tommy DeCarlo performs at the Cameron County Amphitheater (ValleyCentral photo/Nathaniel Puente)

The band then invited him to perform at a tribute show to Delp and later hired him on to become the Boston vocalist to complete a story similar to Journey’s Arnel Pineda being found on YouTube.

DeCarlo and his band performed Boston songs from three of their platinum-selling albums, Boston, Don’t Look Back, and Third Stage.

DeCarlo’s band members also performed with Cardenas for the Journey covers. August Zadra, guitarist, often tours with former Styx singer Dennis DeYoung and appears on Cardenas’s 2020 debut album Waiting for Monday.

Tommy Decarlo, left, Payton Velligan, center, and August Zadro, right perform at the Cameron County Amphitheater (ValleyCentral photo/Nathaniel Puente)

DeCarlo’s son, Tommy DeCarlo, Jr. tours as guitarist in the band along with bassist Payton Velligan.

The band’s performance of Boston songs “More Than a Feeling,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Amanda,” among others, were right on cue of what the actual band would perform.

Events like these signal a bright return of live music to the social sphere and hopefully 2022 will feature even more concerts to witness in the RGV.

The Rio Grande Valley is full of musical talent that deserves exposure. If you know a musician or band who should be featured on RGV Sounds, email