The Krayolas Make Latin Music History
The Krayolas beat out Enrique Iglesias, plus dozens of other notable Latin bands and vocalists as the ‘Number One’ Amazon Top Digital Albums Chart for MP3 downloaded Latin music for 12 straight weeks and that’s as good as making the Guinness Book of World Records.
One must also consider that Amazon.com is world-wide. Therefore this attests to the earthly Krayolas’ staying power and now are the ‘most popular’ downloaded band on the entire planet, thanks to a free Amazon Exclusive sampler album. In 2008, Little Steven Van Zandt, best known for his work with Bruce Springsteen and the HBO series, “The Sopranos,” placed a pair of Krayolas tunes (“Catherine” and “Alex”) in heavy rotation on his syndicated FM radio show and New York-based satellite radio show. A feat no other San Antonio rock-n-roll band has yet to accomplish.
Hailed as the “Mexican Beatles” and “Tex-Mex Beatles” since their early ‘70s rock-n-roll beginnings, HéctorSaldaña, also a music columnist for the San Antonio Express-News; brother David Saldaña and Van Baines, the original guys from Lee High School are the core of this nearly 40-year-old band which once included Tom Swan, Mark Cotnam, Barry Smith, Patrick Wetmore, Doug “Tex” Courtney, Doug McFeggan, Scott Funk and Don Paul West.
Although they were first described as playing their music in a slam-bang style, their three-, four- and sometimes five-part harmonies are like listening to a heavenly choir. All this coupled with superb showmanship have left frenzied audiences in their wake all over the United States.
Onstage, they are also joined by Luvine Elias and Benny Harp; and sometimes Al Gómez and Louie Bustos from the West Side Horns.
The Krayolas established themselves as a brilliant creative force through shrewd marketing and excellent promotion. However, their forte and what sets them apart from others is Hector’s songwriting skills. Like Los Tigres Del Norte, their songs are a reflection of the times and the events and happening in each era. Perhaps their name and the song titles may sound like novelty tunes, but the lyrics reveal otherwise. As for their name, in a 1986 interview, Héctor told this writer that he and his brother chose that name “because we thought it was catchy and colorful; furthermore it matched our style of music,” which I can only describe as diverse as the kolors in the rainbow.
Also add to that, their style of clothing. “Check out our new suits,” Héctor said as he pointed to a slew of photographs taken by Todd V. Wolfson at this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival and Conference in Austin.
Two of the embroidered images on his left sleeve were those of Buddy Holly and Esteban Jordan. The back of his jacket read “Americano,” one of the song titles on their Amazon MP3 downloads.
“The image is that of our nephew Alex, who died in Iraq,” Héctor explained during the interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives. “Also note the cactus with the twelve painted skulls, all the emblems and embedded jewelry, the wide ‘Scarface-like’ lapels and the gigantic draped bell bottom pants.”
David’s left sleeve is an embroidered image of artist David Zamora Casas. The back reads “La Conquistadora” – another of the downloadable tunes — plus an image of La Virgen de Guadalupe, whom the brothers refer to as La Conquistadora. “All images are related to songs we recorded and we received much commentary on the suits, which I can say, were inspired by Porter Wagner, but in our case, it’s like Liberace slept with a mariachi and this is what he came up with,” Héctor said with a laugh. “But I also remember Sunny and the Sunliners wore a lot of colorful outfits back when I was going to high school.”
In regard to their latest compact disc, last year the Krayolas released “Tipsy TopsyTurvy” on Box Records, the label they created in 1982. It kicks off with “Genuine,” a song about the streets of San Antonio and Steve Jordan.
While “Smile Away,” “Front Page News” and the super catchy romantic “Love Is GonnaGetcha” all stand out, it’s tunes with a message, like “1070 (I’m Your Dirty Mexican)” and “The Working People” that turn Héctor into our own Bob Dylan.
“I can’t be lazy about the music,” Héctor said. “We can’t be stagnant. This is the first time we used strings, and to make it more romantic, we had Henry Gómez play guitarron and the vihuela, but the rest of our stuff is typical Krayolas.
“We’re happy Amazon created a sensation for us. For the time, we are actually connecting with the market. The Krayolas are unknown to 99.9 percent of the people in the world. Now, they can find us. Incidentally some of the songs feature Flaco Jiménez, as well as Augie Meyers, Max Baca and Michael Guerra. But the best part is that it’s absolutely FREE for a limited time.”
For more information on these genuine, Mexified San Antonio rock ’n’ roll stars, go to www.thekrayolas.com.