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More live Chicano soul to the Westside in 2023

Rob Martinez / Texas Public Radio
Jaime and Rambo planning for the upcoming show over breakfast tacos

This story is about Thee Sinseers and The Altons live at The historic Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center on February 4, 2023.We dive into how the show came to be and learn more about the promoters, Rambo Salinas and Jamie Macias. 

Rambo Salinas and Jaime Macias are at it again. Early next year they’re bringing down Thee Sinseers and The Altons from California - two Chicano soul bands whose sound will surely connect to the people and culture of the Westside.

Posters designed by Gemini Vato will be available for purchase at the show

This next one is a most special occasion. The show on February 4, 2023 will be held at the historic Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

Rambo’s pulse on the culture and Jaime’s passion for bringing people to the Westside have made for some magical nights on Commerce street. Earlier this year, they sold out three shows with Thee Sacred Souls - another notable sweet soul band on the rise.

Here’s Rambo -

Rob Martinez / Texas Public Radio
Rambo talking with Jaime at the table

“Yeah, I'm Rambo Salinas. I am the manager here at Friends of sound records in San Antonio, Texas 700 'Fred road.' I'm also a promoter, booker and archivist for all music San Antonio, South Texas, conjunto, tejano, cumbia, soul, funk, garage [rock]. You name it, I'm usually looking for it or trying to find it and discover the artists that created a lot of the music.”

Friends of Sound is a local record store on Fredericksburg Road. He’s been a part of that venture for 7 years now. This past year, the shop has been home to in-store shows, record signings, and meet and greets.

For Rambo, these recent shows have been a long time in the making. His connection to the artists and their labels goes back several years, before he made his way down to San Antonio. He was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 15 years, among a community of musicians and music collectors.

“That's where I kind of, you know, started to cut my teeth in the music and theater scene, and in the collector scene,” Rambo says. “I started a rare funk and soul night called Hot Pants, that's been going on for about 14 years. That was with a group of other other guys who put it together, and we would just do these dance nights. And from there that kind of turned into, you know, booking other DJ's to come from other states to come play with us. And then that led to the bands...the first kind of introduction to kind of really starting to work with the bands is we had a Sharon Jones after party. It was a quarter party kind of like in Cooley high where you just played a quarter to get in. And all you know, the whole band came through after the show.”

This afterparty with Sharon Jones band is how he got connected with these independent record labels putting out new Soul music today. “That's kind of how I started getting introduced to Daptone Records. And a lot of the guys that were working there and then from there, you know, connections over the years with either DJ's record collectors.

Some of these individuals went on to start the labels he is connected to now.

"A lot of record collectors started turning into label owners, you know, they went from collecting records to starting their own labels, creating their own bands and kind of doing things independently, like Big Crown Records with Danny or Colemine Records with Terry, a lot of those places. So those connections of you know, I've had for a long time,” Rambo shares.

He brought those connections and the passion for collecting records down to San Antonio, the birthplace of the music he had been researching.

“Moving to San Antonio, starting Alamo City Soul Club with a couple guys here - We were doing kind of like the same framework of playing - unearthing rare funk, soul stuff and garage [rock] records from San Antonio in Texas. That turned into more promoting and bringing bands and I've always kind of been on trying to find what's coming out next."

Rambo started experimenting with booking newer artists in the soul revival sound, because of their connection to the iconic Chicano soul artists of the Westside and the Westside sound.

“When I first moved here, about 10 years ago, I really, you know, I want I knew what I wanted to do, like I knew what I was already passionate about. And I knew that coming down here like there wasn't a big enough platform for it yet even though the music is so engulfed here, like there's so much music from here and, and the roots of it is here. But I wasn't seeing a lot of new bands coming out here and playing. So I knew that that was going to happen eventually when I came down here to research more music."

He recalls the first time be brought Thee Sacred Souls to San Antonio, and then why he wanted to host them on the Westside, “I think was 100 people for Thee Sacred Souls the first time at Luna and that sold out and before I think we even got to announce it - it was just through word of mouth. We knew we're gonna bring them again and you know, for the longest time, I've always wanted to put it in our barrio. I always want it on the Westside. Like that's, that's where I feel like these bands connect more.

Thee Sacred Souls live at Jaime's Place

"There's a lot of other venues here in San Antonio. But when it comes to music like that, I really want to put it in the spot where I feel it's where it's gonna get the most the most out of it, like the most feeling and emotion. And that's the Westside because that's obviously where a lot of Southside, Westside and a lot of this music was created, Chicano soul music.”

Jaime Macias, a small business owner and cultural steward of the westside, has been a perfect partner for Rambo throughout these musical introductions. They’ve been meeting up at Leticia's Restaurant on Zarzamora to plan for future events.

Rob Martinez / Texas Public Radio
Leticia's Mexican Restaurant on Zarzamora. A meeting spot for Jaime and Rambo to discuss their plans

Rambo shares how this show on February 4th, 2023 came to be, “Me and [Jaime] him sit down, we'll have breakfast tacos, you know, in the neighborhood. And we talk about these plans and like more ideas that are coming up because I love using his space as well. Jaime’s Place is perfect. But yeah, when it gets cold, it's a little bit tougher. He kind of had the same idea when they kind of when I hooked him up with Thee Sacred Souls, they kind of hit him up about looking, you know, playing the venue there for Thee Sinseers, and then I got a call from Thee Sinseers as well. So we were both looking for venues without even knowing it. We were both looking for a venue to put it because it was going to be too cold. And when we figured out that both of us were talking to the Guadalupe we're like, okay, ‘wise minds think alike…’

Those three sold out shows with Thee Sacred Souls was proof that this partnership could bring another successful night.

Rob Martinez / Texas Public Radio
Jaime talking with Rambo at the table

Here’s Jaime -

“You know let's work together on this, you know? I mean and I've never once shied away about making it known that because of Rambo, Jaime’s Place is now in that lane, right and I receive phone calls because it was the unselfishness from Rambo that that introduced their agencies, Thee Sacred Souls to Jaime’s Place and put me in contact with them. So as far as I'm concerned, and I told Rambo, 'we're joined at the hip, man.' From here on out, you know, whether we do one more show or we never do a show, or we do 100 shows, you're always a part of it.”

For Jaime, this partnership has been more than one show.

“It's providential, you know, it really is, you know? Along with this part of the cultura, which is a musical component of the cultura. It is also happening with the redevelopment of West Commerce street all the way to Frio street, with the new sidewalks, the new lampposts, the new paving of West commerce - with the infrastructure.

This development and the future of this part of town inspires Jaime’s mission for his business. “You know, it seems like the stars are aligning for the inner Westside, and Jaime’s Place wants to do its part in maintaining the fabric that's always been, you know, that Mexican American blue collar community. And again, like our tagline 'Built for the barrio' but it's also for beyond, right? It's for everyone and everyone to come in and enjoy what we've always known to be a jewel - the Westside.”

Here’s Rambo on partnering with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

“I've been trying to bring Joey Quiñones, The Sinseers, the Altons, all these groups…I've been trying to bring them for years. So we've been probably talking for almost four or five years back and forth until you know, the right moment has finally happened. Jaime reached out to the Guadalupe and we all kind of started talking and we we like okay like this is kind of the moment. February's cold so we couldn't do it outside at his venue. So we decided to kind of partner up with you know, someone else on the Westside.”

“Legendary shows have been there. I mean, some many amazing people who have passed through that door. And I feel like this is kind of the time to kind of bring these youthful groups to the Westside, you know, from California.

Rambo and Jaime are proud to be cultural ambassadors to these groups on tour who share the same passion for Chicano Soul. Especially those who are playing San Antonio for the first time.

“The Sinseers and the Altons have never been here before. I believe Joey has been here years ago at Luna but when I think maybe with his, his ska, his reggae band. So he's never been here with his soul stuff.”

“And if you, if you have, you know, if you have no idea who Joey Quiñones is, he's definitely someone to look out for. Chicano from Cali and just, you know, kind of like a Ritchie Valens of our time - an amazing producer, songwriter, vocalist - super talented. This will be I think this will be the first time putting those groups and him in the place where he should be playing, you know, in the center of the barrio.

Enjoy this Tiny Desk concert from NPR Music -

Roberto "Rob" Martinez is a Texas Public Radio writer and contributor. He produces TPR Music's Digging SA and host of the Lonesome Lounge Sessions.