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The Source: The West Side Sound Revival

Call it San Antonio's West Side Sound, Chicano Soul, West Side Soul, doo-wop with horns, whatever you call it, San Antonio was the site of a musical mash up, a cultural clash and sound synthesis that is resonating decades after its 60s and mid-70s creation. 

Bands like "Sonny Ace & The Twisters," "Rudy Tee & The Reno Bops," "Little Henry & and The Laveers," are just a few of the bands that made up a very popular but highly localized scene. Jason Longoria, owner of El Westside Sound System says the music is still with us.

"The sound is still here the guys are still around and the records can still be dug up. They're just getting a little harder to find, I think."

Longoria, himself a sometimes club DJ can rattle off venues still hosting the players and DJs of today, himself included, who are playing the 45s as part of their sets and people love it, he says.  

Despite people like Doug Sahm talking about it and playing with it at its height, and some of the more popular bands playing American Bandstand, the sound didn't make it into the mainstream.

"It's a recent discovery for most people," says Fresh Air Rock Music Critic Ed Ward. "I liked the stuff and I was wondering how come nobody's picked up on this?" Ward admits he himself came to it late.

Ward recently penned a review of San Antonio's "horn-infused doo-wop" for NPR. 

Doug Sahm documentarian Joe Nick Patoski says that the San Antonio sound is very distinct.

"It has a sour-note twist to it that makes you think of mariachis, but it's based on rhythm and blues.  And it's Chicanos doing the music and it sounded like nowhere else."

The music of San Antonio's Westside is enjoying a revival of sorts.  Will it last?


  • Joe Nick Patoski, author, documentary filmmaker 
  • Ed Ward, Rock Critic for NPR's Fresh Air
  • Jason Longoria, owner of el Westside Sound System
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org