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Fronteras: San Antonio’s iconic West Side Sound is the focus of new oral history preservation project

A blend of doo-wop, early rock 'n’ roll and Tejano characterize the “puro San Antonio” sound of the 1950s — better known as the West Side Sound.

Two San Antonio professors are looking to preserve the stories of the city’s West Side through the West Side Sound Oral History Project.

Sylvia Mendoza is an assistant professor with the University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Gloria Vásquez Gonzáles, is a lecturer of Mexican American Studies at UTSA, and is co-director of its Mexican American Studies Teacher’s Academy.

They received a $5,000 grant from UTSA’s Westside Community Partnerships Initiative to develop the West Side Sound oral history project.

Mendoza says a lot has been written about the West Side Sound, but it’s the stories of the musicians and fans she’s looking to preserve.

Geremy Landin, a graduate student at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and director of equity and social advocacy for Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, is also a contributor to the project’s oral history interviews.

He spoke about the unique interviews of musicians and residents who have been impacted by the West Side Sound.

“Every single perspective has been different,” he said. “Every single conversation has been different. And to me, as someone who loves my community who’s there in the West Side, it's been a great opportunity to really dive into those shared experiences and those memories.”

Contact either Sylvia Mendoza or Gloria Vásquez Gonzáles with your West Side Sound memories and add your songs to the West Side Sound’s collaborative playlist.

Artifacts from the project will be displayed at the bar Jaime’s Place in May.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Marian Navarro produces for Texas Public Radio's Morning Edition and Fronteras.