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San Antonio Tribute Bands Rock Hard To Give You The Feels

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Tribute bands reproduce another group’s music to keep it alive for an interested audience and San Antonio is definitely interested. What's behind the homage industry? What keeps fans coming back for more? The San Antonio Current's Sanford Nowlin, local musician Nathan Alvarado and the University of Rochester's John Covach speak on "The Source." 

If you missed your chance to see AC/DC, Journey or Pink Floyd in their heyday, you’re in luck: there’s a tribute band for that. Don't want to pay a hefty ticket price to see Tool or System of a Down? Don’t worry – there’s a tribute for that, too. 

Imitative entertainment plays a significant role in contemporary culture, especially in the Alamo City. From dive bars like Boozehounds to larger ticketed venues like the Aztec Theatre, a few dozen tribute bands regularly rock venues all over town.

Whether it's because of the communal experience of rocking out with people who like the same songs or a desire to keep the music of a beloved artist alive – who shows up for tribute shows and why? Is it pure nostalgia that keeps diehard fans coming back for more?

Are tribute bands glorified performance artists riding the wave of another’s success or are they consciously preserving the repertoire of iconic entertainers?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

*This interview aired on Wednesday, November 28. 

Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.
Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.