You sacred souls on sacred ground

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For Jaime Macias, the 1500 block of West Commerce is a sacred place in the heart of San Antonio’s Westside.

On June 14, Thee Sacred Souls – a soul group from San Diego – gathered nearly 400 people to see them perform at Jaime’s Place. Only their second tour, the band ended a string of shows with Glasgow pop group Belle and Sebastian, then played Antone’s in Austin before their show in San Antonio.

Thee Sacred Souls and Rob Martinez, TPR Music at Malú Theater & Carlos Alvarez

Prior to soundcheck, the band stopped by TPR Studios for an interview and conversation about the history of Westside and Westside Sound. We talked about the artists who inspired their sound and how they relate to where they were due to play in just a few hours.

Many viewers, including Jaime, felt that Thee Sacred Souls show was history – it was kind of a continuation of a tradition where so many people from all walks of life came together to have a good time and enjoy live soul music.

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Your sacred souls live at Jaime’s Place

This was happening just 100 feet from where Jaime’s Place is now. The Patio Andaluz was once a venue and gathering space for those who wanted to see The Royal Jesters or Sunny and the Sunliners play live. If you are on the block of Colorado and W. Commerce, you will see the yellow building that is now Don Juan’s restaurant.

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The Royal Jesters live at Patio Andaluz in San Antonio

In the 50s through the 60s, it was ground zero for the genre of music we know as Westside Sound or Chicano Soul. For many young people at the time, like my grandmother, it was described as something of a rite of passage and a cornerstone of teenage nightlife.

San Antonio bands like Rudy T. and the Reno Bops, Little Joe and the Harlems, Danny and the Dreamers, and the Commands have all drawn large crowds to this yard. In 1965 Barbara Lynn performed her hit song “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” at Patio Andaluz and shared the stage with local artist Jesse and the Tear-Drops.

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Excerpt from the untold story of Patio Andaluz by Henry Peña

These stories and sounds connect us to You, Sacred Souls. Founded by three members, Sal Samano, Alex Garcia and Josh Lane, the group first started by sharing influences and inspirations. Sal and Alex grew up hearing Sunny and the Sunliners at barbecues and family gatherings. It’s a sound they’re very familiar with and feel more comfortable carrying on.

Alex adds: “It could be culturally – we’re both Chicanos and grew up in San Diego. It’s always been part of our upbringing. You know every time you barbecue you’re going to put some old pieces. I fell back into that sound that was so familiar and wanted to recreate it in a way, like my way.”

For vocalist Josh Lane, his journey into sound came with a fitting introduction by Sal and Alex –

“Soul music was there but it wasn’t as prevalent as I would say guys talk about their experience. Being a black man – a black kid, I knew who all the great soul singers were, but we listened to a lot more of Christian music at home when I was young. Then as a young adult I ventured to discover soul on my own. I was influenced by many soul pop singers like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Smokey Robinson, it was only after meeting these guys [Sal and Alex] that I was really introduced to some of the deeper soul stuff – like Chicago Soul and Chicano Soul.

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Sal Samano, Alex Garcia and Josh Lane of Thee Sacred Souls

“Chicano Soul” for record collectors and music historians is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “Westside Sound” or “San Antonio Sound”. This phrase has now evolved into a term that captures the music and culture of the late 50s and 60s on the Westside of San Antonio.

Digging deeper into this history, one discovers that the soulful, R&B – Doo Wop sound of many black artists was reinterpreted by many Chicano singers and musicians in San Antonio – to later develop its own brand as “Westside Sound”.

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The Commands, 1960s San Antonio band

It’s also worth noting that San Antonio was one of the first places in the 50s and early 60s where you could find integrated house bands with blacks, whites, and Chicanos all playing together. The history of collaboration and collection of influences runs deep in San Antonio. Josh from Thee Sacred Souls shares his observation –

“Chicano Culture and Chicano Soul was a new adventure for me. I think what I’ve learned is that it’s such a social glue when it comes to cultures. It’s like a handshake as if this music speaks to everyone. we – and brown and black people coming together – learning from the black soul [music] and then make it their own, like the Royal Jesters and other bands like that.”

“It’s a testament to the power of connectedness and the love of music – and the power it has to heal many racial tensions. Similar to how jazz was before this with the integration of musicians whites and blacks. I feel like it’s a similar revival but later, blacks and browns realize that this music brings us together – that we have the same stories and the same love for the greats.”

Drawing those connections to the history of the people and places is what makes Jaime a proud San Antonio Westside business owner. His family has been doing it for years. They’ve owned several businesses on this particular trading block for decades, including a notable business called Spitfire Automotive – where Jaime’s Place is now.

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Jaime Macias on the phone at his desk

In 2020, Jaime had the chance to step in and turn a once vacant lot into what it is today.

“I asked my 96-year-old mother, ¿Me das chansa, verdad? and she says ‘Yeah, but remember the rent is due on the fifth of the month.'” He recalls.

I had the opportunity to visit Jaime in his office on the second floor of the yellow house in Jaime’s Place. We talked about the development in the area, how long overdue it was, but how aware it was of the impending changes to the Westside and its vision to be one piece of the puzzle.

“Jaime’s Place has just arrived – which is a community gathering space. Our slogan is Designed for the Barrio and beyond. In reality, we are probably three years ahead of schedule. Back when I opened on October 9, 2020, I was telling everyone that we were five years ahead of schedule because I knew this build was going to happen.”

He explains that his knowledge of the Westside changes came from his attendance at SA2020 committee meetings. He wanted to take the lead in development, but picked an interesting time to start his business.

“After the connection between the inner Westside and the western edge of downtown, that’s when you’ll see a lot more development happening at a rapid pace. So given that we own the properties, I got a bit of a head start. Beer brings people together. So that’s what I did, and once I opened the doors, I didn’t know if anyone was coming – that’s scary…and then open up in the middle of the pandemic?!”

And even during the pandemic, crowds of supporters, friends, tourists and live music fans have gathered at the West Commerce outdoor hangout.

“This is built for the neighborhood – and beyond! Beyond is across the bridge. It’s outside the 410 loop. It’s for those who have no idea the resilience, perseverance, beauty of this Westside gem.”

Jaime’s vision to be an integrated business owner in his community came from seeing his siblings do it before him.

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Cars parked in front of Jaime’s Place

“I’m just that person who’s in the right place, right time, right place – bottom line. And I’m grateful. I thank the universe for giving me the opportunity to connect the dots and see this… I don’t mean renaissance because it’s a European term… but rather a revival, a great revival where the people gathers.”

He explains his inspiration for what he wanted Jaime’s Place to be.

“You know, it’s run by Chicanos. It’s a house…kinda like Saluté was back then…kinda like even earlier times, Los Padrinos, owned by those sisters on West Avenue. It was a place to be, man. So I want this place to be one of those types of spaces. Patio Andaluz, right? Less than 30 meters from here. ..it’s fertile ground…it’s good vibes like the beach The boys would say.And it permeates everyone who comes and spends time here.

Jaime is sitting at his desk listening to my question about the connection between Westside Sound and modern soul music – and as he listens he brings up a playlist of “Oldies and Soul revival” artists. He explains the importance of sharing the history of Patio Andaluz with the artists who play in his room.

“They have to know that they’re going to be entering a neighborhood where what they’re growing is kind of like the breeding ground for all of this. I mean, Durand Jones and the Directions – you ask Durand Jones who his inspiration is and he’ll say Sunny Ozuna. Well, this cat just played here! He hung out here! All these cats… this is their home. You, Sacred Souls and all these other cats who imitate this sound, they need to know what Patio Andaluz did.”

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Crowd at Jaime’s Place for Thee Sacred Souls show

Josh of Thee Sacred Souls reflects on this history and the band’s contribution to the genre and culture of soul music.

“I feel like for me music as a whole is spiritual. I would say soul music in particular to the fabric of America. I feel like soul music has always been in our lives but to varying degrees diverse and she found me more deeply through this group.”

Josh explains further: “It called us all, but with them reaching out to me and us starting this band, it put me on the path to find out more about the story a little deeper. So to learn that story, like Sal said, it’s been inspiring. It’s cool to know that part of the story and to feel more love than we already have for soul music. that we’re a part of. The resurgence that people are talking about — and knowing that it’s the story getting connected to the story that’s already there is kind of cool.”

Asked about the future of Jaime’s Place – Jaime talks about the experience of hosting Thee Sacred Souls – the important connection with local promoter, Rambo Salinas of Friends of Sound Records – The ongoing story and the impact it is having left on the community… while adding to a promising vision of Westside culture.

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Thee Sacred Souls with Jaime and Gabriela Macias

“With Rambo securing us that band – you know, when he hooked us up with those people and then he stepped back and Gabriela and I had talked to those people, they freaked out that we sold 350 tickets in less than eight o’clock They were like, ‘What?’ They were blown away. I told them, ‘you don’t know what’s going on in that part of town.’ They are pumped up! So all of a sudden, calls start happening in this kind of genre… and what can happen? Stay tuned.”

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