More Good S.A. Pop
The Krayolas color outside the lines
By Margaret Moser,
1:30PM, Mon. Jul. 21, 2008
Just to sweep the obvious off the table: Yes, the Krayolas are from San Antonio and bear the city’s definitive musical imprint but they’re much, much more. Yes, they were a New Wave-ier product of S.A.’s first punk scene, the one that was anointed by the Sex Pistols’ appearance there. No, the Krayolas are not the Red Krayola that featured Mayo Thompson.
(What many people don’t realize is that the 1978 Sex Pistols show was a major victory in the ongoing, uncampaigned battle between musical rivals Austin and San Antonio that gets refueled every generation, usually with no understanding whatsoever of what came before. For example, a 1969 poster for a Sunday afternoon concert at Sunken Gardens Theatre pictured the state of Texas as a beaming, doting mother and her two sons Austin and San Antonio, the former dressed in hippie glory and the latter duded up a la Doug Sahm on the Rolling Stone cover. Austin always had the cool but San Antonio had the dark heart. Maybe I’m rambling. I was all of 15, torched on acid at that show, and bouncing through a largely unmonitored life, so new and fresh that three hours of music imprinted it forever. It seems remarkable now that a concert could be a life-changing step from one level of understanding to the next. I swear I will find that poster.)
Never mind the Sex Pistols, the Krayolas’ oeuvre swung from 1977-88. Brothers Hector and David Saldana fronted the San Antonio concoction of smart Costello-like Texas power pop primed with Sir Douglas muscle and the punch of Tex-Mex keyboards, Augie Meyers-style. Hector is bemused. "They’re calling us Chicano garage rockers. I don’t even know what that means.”
I know what it means. When Ruben Molina updates his fabulous Chicano Soul book, the Krayolas will stand as the 1980s S.A. link between the royal Jesters, Rudy & the Reno-Bops, and Doug Sahm in the 1960s and 70s, and the emergence of bands like Los Lonely Boys and the Tex-Mex Experience in the Ks. Last year’s Best Riffs Only shimmered with that 1980s greatest hits glow but this year’s La Conquistador is likely to appear in select Top 10 lists.
La Conquistadora is the unexpected letter from the past, a small gift of multifaceted delights. The West Side Horns and Meyers both make appearances on the album, giving magical San Antonio-ness to songs like Meyers’ “Little Fox,” “Yakety Song,” and “Alex,” a memorable tribute to the Saldanas’ nephew killed in Iraq, fusing the urgent pulse of Dylan’s “Hurricane” with pumping organ.
“The Krayolas were dead," Hector explained. "The comeback, improbable, unlikely, and inept. It came out of an effort to save the analog tapes of our old 45s, which were disintegrating. But the Krayolas were always a good plug-in-and-play rock & roll band. We were often horrible, but when we vibrated just right you couldn’t touch us. That’s still true.”
The Krayolas will be around Austin this week, playing tunes from the past and present. Thursday they are live on KUT at 2pm, then head across the street to Antone's Record Shop for an in-store at 5:30pm. Augie Meyers is expected to appear at their Jovita’s gig on Friday, the perfect venue for the Krayolas. (I'm looking forward to seeing bassist Joe Sarli, who went to my high school and was like a rock star to me.)
I’ve been trying not to equate the break-up of Bret Michaels and Ambre Lake with my own sad breakup of a three-year romance, one that finds me mooning through old records and playing a lot of vinyl alone for comfort. I really was rooting for them through the last half of Rock of Love II because I thought she’d straighten out his lame ass. If nothing else, she was hands-down the best choice over the skanky silicone parade of hopefuls.
Dear VH1, if you really are considering a Rock of Love III (and you MUST be because the temptation to try to win love for Bret Michaels until he’s wearing Depends is too rich to ignore), let’s get together and talk. Go ahead and do your little show but hire me go along with Bret on dates and help him choose the right girl. We’ll dispense with the meth-freak titty dancers and collagened tan booth twatties immediately and look for a woman with real substance who’ll his make his rock of love rock hard.
Dear Bret, I’m serious. I’m not interested in you – never liked blond men – and not really a fan of Poison, so I’ve nothing to gain or lose. If you don’t believe me, let’s have drinks with Heather. She’ll know just what I mean. Love, Margaret
P.S. First thing, the bandana goes.