The West Side of San Antonio is where rock and roll met Mexican music courtesy of the Sir Douglas Quintet, whose legacy lives on today in another Alamo City band, the Krayolas. Houston-born brothers Hector and David Saldana formed the Krayolas in the mid-'70s, and the group's blend of catchy power-pop and West Side Tex-Mex rock and roll made them regional favorites until they petered out around 1988.
Most of the music on the two albums the Krayolas have made since re-forming, 2008's La Conquistadora and this year's Long Leaf Pine (no smack gum), is the same lighthearted, high-energy West Side boogie that once had San Antonio — and well beyond — screaming "Oh, yeah! What'd I say?" But not all of it — "Corrido (12 Heads in a Bag)," based on an article on the Mexican drug wars Hector Saldana read in the Los Angeles Times, earned the band a profile on NPR's All Things Considered earlier this year.
Chatter spoke with Hector Saldana, also a senior staff writer and music columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, last week.
Chatter: What's the most interesting bit of feedback you've gotten from "Corrido"?
Hector Saldana: Probably just that it was so timely. I think that's what struck [people] the most. I wrote the song just two days after the actual incident; it's based almost exactly on what I read in the Los Angeles Times story. It just struck a nerve. As a musician, there are some songs that you like, but you notice that there are some songs that people have a special connection to, and that one did.
My theory is that it's as much musical as it is subject matter. It's a song that starts in a major key and goes into a minor key, and goes from waltz time to 4/4 time and Spanish to English. There's that one little moment in the song where that happens, and I think that shakes you up as much as what the song attempts to be.
C: At your Cactus in-store back in June, you alluded to some past experience with various Harris County law enforcement agencies. Can you elaborate?
HS: (laughs) We used to play a lot of gigs there at nightclubs like Fitzgerald's and Rockefeller's and pack 'em in. We always did really well in Houston when we were really young. A lot of it had to do with those clubs, but also because — it was kinda strange — we had a big gay following in Houston.
We played a lot of hoity-toity parties early on, and we were really, really young in the middle of all these elaborate settings, and those same people came and supported us in the bars. A lot of those parties went too late and the cops would always get on our case. We didn't get arrested or anything like that, but it seems like we always had run-ins for playing too long and too loud. It wasn't like the Kinks — we weren't banned from Harris County (laughs).
C: What's your favorite song aboutSan Antonio?
HS: [Sings Doug Sahm's] "Is anybody going to San Antone..." I don't know how much it tells you about the city, but I just love that song. "Livin' Inside the Loop" by a group called Los #3 Dinners. It's a local group, and that's a really killer track. They've got sort of a Velvet Underground vibe, and they've been around a long time. It's not a well-known song, but it's a cool one.
C: How big of a shadow did Doug Sahmand the Sir Douglas Quintet cast overSan Antonio music?
HS: Huge is the answer. But the thing is, revisionism has kind of changed it. The band was in the complete tank by the early '70s, at least around here. When we were starting out in '74 and '75, we would play "She's About a Mover" and "Mendocino," and people would just stare at us — like, "Why are you playing that crap?" It was done. Luckily, what happened for their memory was the Texas Tornadoes. That was sort of their second lease on life, and then people came back to it.
One of the biggest hip-hop road shows of the year, Common and the Roots, comes to downtown event space The Corinthian (201 Main) Saturday night, but there's a catch. Sponsored by Hennessy, the show is part of the cognac maker's four-city "Artistry" tour and also features indie artists Makano and Elizabeth the Band; like they do on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Roots will also act as the house band. It's technically a private event, though, so register to win tickets on the "Contests" section of Hennessy's Web site.
2110 Portsmouth, 713-526-9272
1. listenlisten, Hymns from Rhodesia
2. Muse, The Resistance
3. John Arthur Martinez, Purgatory Road
4. Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs
5. Mark Knopfler, Get Lucky
6. Sunny Day Real Estate, LP2 (remaster)
7. Mickey Clark, Winding Highways
8. Chris Knight, Trailer II
9. Pearl Jam, Backspacer
10. Big Star, Keep an Eye on the Sky (box set)
Pe-Te's Cajun Bandstand
KPFT (90.1 FM), Saturdays 6-9 a.m.
Selections from Pe-Te's September 19 playlist
1. Steve Riley, "Between Eunice & Opelousas"
2. Walter Mouton, "Went to Dance Last Night"
3. Don Fontenot, "Ride the Donkey"
4. Bayou Roux, "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Zydeco"
5. Lafayette Rhythm Devils, "Hicks Wagon Wheel"
6. Jo-El Sonnier, "Life's Last Parade"
7. Geno Delafose, "Everybody Havin' Fun"
8. Doug Kershaw, "Diggy Liggy Lo"
9. Johnny Allen, "Let's Get Drunk"
10. Horace Trahan, "That Butt Thing"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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