Credit Texas Public Radio -Jack Morgan Arts and Culture Reporter- Click Here to View Article and Listen to Program
San Anto Cultural Arts founder Manny Castillo, had always envisioned iconic murals on W. Commerce St. and Guadalupe St., the gateways to the Westside. Designed to depict legendary San Antonio musicians from various generations in a fictional concert for community, La Musica de San Anto was the first of these gateway murals. Castillo passed away from illness at the age of 40 while this mural was still in process, he never had the opportunity to see the completed project. As a tribute to Manny and his contributions to the community, he was painted in the center of the mural, forever commemorating him as both the passionate punk-rock musician he was and the Westside community leader.
The South Texas region exists as a unique cultural hybridization, or “mestizaje”, with roots extending thousands of years deep from the indigenous peoples of this land and blended with Spanish, German, African and other cultural influences to become a uniquely rich musical landscape. This landscape is informed by a history of colonialism, immigration and transnational migration. Music has voice, spirit and vibrancy that communicates to us directly, providing aesthetic pleasure not only to our sense of sound but to our soul. While music transcends race, religion and social class, it simultaneously serves as a strong representation of the cultural identity or “soul” of a people. This mural has served to further activate and enhance our public space, it highlights the presence and vitality of our city's contributions to the music of South Texas.
Dimensions: 141' x 17'6"
Original date: November 2009
Original artist: David Blancas
Mural crew: Raul Castellanos, Blessed, Christopher Salinas, Adriana Garcia, Sevastian Ortega, Cardee Garcia, Gerry Garcia, Alex Villegas, Rico Salinas, Juan Gonzales, Priscilla Prather, Promod Goshai, Diana Farias, Norberto Trevino, Jackie Farias, Diego Martinez, Izzy Farias, Alejandro Gonzales, Bianca Farias, Ana Gutierrez, Christian Rodriguez, Joseph Charo, Mario Garza, Julio Estrada, Alexandra Salinas, Maricela Olguin, Deborah Rubenstein, James Avalos
La Musica de San Anto
Featured Musicians (left to right on the mural)
The Longoria family dynasty in Tex-Mex music begins in the 1920s in a Mississippi cotton field, with no one in the large family of Valerio Longoria Sr. aware that a master musician was growing up in their midst. He spent his childhood in the small towns of Ramondsville and Kenedy, TX, heading off as a child to work in the fields, grinding toil whether it be an Arkansas cotton field or a Texas orange grove. He first learned to play guitar and harmonica before picking up the accordion at the age of seven. He was largely influenced by the early-Tejano styles of Narciso Martinez but developed into the first of what would be collectively known as the nueva generación (new generation) responsible for the so-called classic stage of the Tex-Mex conjunto. Longoria got into the performing habit early and sustained a music career for more than 60 years.
Texas tenor saxman Clifford Scott was born June 21, 1928. Perhaps most famous for his classic solo in Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk, Pt. 2" Scott also played with Jay McShann, Amos Milburn, and Lionel Hampton before joining Doggett. Later, he worked with Ray Charles and recorded several albums as a leader on King and Pacific Jazz, none of which received much recognition. He moved to Los Angeles in 1962 and worked in the soul-jazz scene for a number of years, eventually returning to San Antonio in the early '70s. Later in his life, he made a few albums that also didn't generate much attention and a recording with Wild Bill Davis in 1986 in Zurich. Clifford Scott died April 19, 1993.
Morales is a member of one of San Antonio's legendary horn sections, the West Side Horns. This group was formed in the early 70's and christened by Sahm, with whom the group used to play regularly at venues such as the old Soap Creek Saloon. Sahm was something of a mentor to all of the horn players involved in this scene, an accomplished enough musician on several instruments to want to have a hand with developing different types of horn arrangements. Morales performed with Sahm at many important venues, including Carnegie Hall. The West Side Horns have traveled all over the world, including gigs in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Amsterdam, Japan, Switzerland, and Belgium. Other members of this group have included Al Gomez on trumpet, Spot Barnet on saxophone, Mike Zeal on bass, Moses Vasquez on drums, keyboardist Sauce Gonzalez, and last and perhaps least, vocalist Little Roger.
Villarreal was known to many as the "Mayor of Culebra", and collaborated often with many artist in the local music scene. He was a part of Randy Garivay and The Cats Don't Sleep and performed frequently with his brother Ernie Garivay before his death in 2002. As one of the founding members of Felix Villarreal and The Blues Machine, the band could be heard jamming their Chicano Blues sound at legendary local spots like P&M Lounge in the 80's and 90's with hits like, "Chicken Shack" and "Fender Bender".
He left an artistic and musical legacy to the city of San Antonio. He was not an artist, but he was the best friend an artist could have. He championed their work and celebrated their murals. His beloved West Side is peppered with them. Manny Castillo died after a short battle with cancer in 2009. He played with San Antonio’s popular Snowbyrd (on Smith’s SausTex label) and served as Executive Director for San Anto Cultural Arts, initiating the Community Mural Public Art Program that tied together the Alamo City’s cultural and ethnic legacies in 30 murals. Manny was 40.
Born on November 6, 1941, in San Antonio, TX, Doug Sahm was a highly knowledgeable and superbly competent performer of Texan musical styles, whether they be blues, country, rock & roll, Western swing, Cajun, or polkas. A child prodigy, he appeared on radio at the age of five and became a featured player (steel guitar, fiddle, and mandolin) on the the Louisiana Hayride radio program, appearing with stars such as Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, and Hank Williams. He made his recording debut on the Sarg imprint in 1955 with A Real American Joe under the name of Little Doug Sahm, and within three years was fronting the Pharaohs, the first of several rough-hewn backing groups including the Dell- Kings and the Mar-Kays. Sahm recorded a succession of singles for local labels, including his Little Richard Pastiche "Crazy Daisy (1959);" Just a Moment; "Sapphire"(1961), and "Lucky Me" (1963). For several years, Sahm had been pestering producer Huey P. Meaux to record him. Meaux, having success with Barbara Lynn and Dale & Grace, was not interested.
Eva Garza recorded over 200 single recordings for such major record labels as Columbia Records, Seeco Records and Musart Records over the course of her career. Her discography includes recordings of such popular boleros as: Celosa, Cantando and Arrepentido. Critical reviewers in The Billboard took note of her warm, and expressive style of interpretation. [25} She was also cited for a deep, warm, rich and persuasive interpretations  and was the recipient of three María Grever Awards for Best Singer of the Year.  Hailed as one of the ten best singers in Mexico, Eva Garza is remembered as a versatile vocalist who was equally comfortable singing romantic boleros, corridos, tropical music and contemporary songs with ease. 
Dubbed "San Antonio's First Lady of Song" by Lady Bird Johnson, Rosita Fernandez was a pioneering force in the development of the Texas border music later dubbed tejano. In addition to her prodigious recording schedule, she also enjoyed a feature film career, and was one of the first Latin American performers to regularly appear on national television. Fernandez specialized in canciones románticas and boleros, favoring lush orchestral arrangements and urbane rhythms. She was nevertheless an enormous popular favorite within the Latino community, where her fame proved so enduring that she was known simply as "Rosita." When WOAI launched its television broadcasting division in 1949, Fernandez was the first live performer to appear on air, and in 1960 she made her motion picture debut opposite John Wayne in The Alamo.
Dubbed "La Alondra de la Frontera," singer Lydia Mendoza was an early legend of Tejano music. Born May 21, 1916, in Houston, TX, she was the product of a musical family; she performed with her parents and sister Francisca in a group, La Familia Mendoza, which found success in local variety shows, and her other sisters Maria and Juanita made up their own popular duet act, Las Hermanas Mendoza. In 1928 Mendoza's father spotted an advertisement in a Spanish-language newspaper calling for musical groups, and they soon traveled to San Antonio to record for the Okeh label; their profits from the session funded a move to Detroit, MI, in the pursuit of migrant labor. There the Mendozas earned a dedicated fan base among their fellow migrant workers and other Latin Americans who had journeyed north during the Mexican Revolution.