“When everyone was listening to the Beatles and everything, I was still listening to Tejano. For me, that’s always been my music,” she said. “That’s how I got my Chicano history. at the very beginning, through music.” She would later work in music publishing and management, careers that inspired her to pursue her doctorate and document the experiences of women who worked behind the scenes of music. music industry.
Mendoza, whose father was a musician, grew up listening to his mother describe music.
“They didn’t know it as West Side Sound as they lived it,” she said. “She just knew it was the guys from the neighborhood, local musicians getting together and playing Motown songs.”
From the 1950s to the 1970s, San Antonio was the place to listen to new and exciting music. Highway 90 served as a corridor to New Orleans, bringing jazz, swamp pop and zydeco sounds from Louisiana. At the same time, San Antonio’s military tradition meant that the military, especially African Americans from places like Detroit, Chicago, and New York, mixed with San Antonio’s Latino population.
And they got mixed up, as Mendoza notes. “The Keyhole Club is considered one of the first desegregated clubs in San Antonio,” she said, “and so there was a confluence of blacks, Latinos, and whites showing up at the club.”
These clubs served as both cultural centers and musical melting pots, allowing for a diversity – musical or otherwise – rarely equaled elsewhere in the south. And while the West Side Sound never enjoyed the widespread popularity of genres like Motown, its legacy lives on with modern bands exploring and emulating older styles, and younger fans collecting and preserving this part of their history.
“My interpretation of that,” Mendoza said, “is that people want to learn more about their history, understand their identity, and appreciate that they come from people who have really contributed musically.”
This is where the “West Side Sound Oral History Project” comes in. Part interviews and oral history collection, part photo and recording archive, and part curated exhibit, the project aims to document and display the history of the community involved.
“It’s not just to document it,” Gonzáles explained, “[it’s] have it somewhere where people can go and have access to it, especially young people… so they can go and learn and see each other and also see that research is not just something you get from books, but it’s in our community.
To this end, Mendoza and Gonzáles are partnering with members of the community Jaime Macias and Norberto “Geremy” Landin. Macias is the owner of Jaime’s Place, a bar in the heart of the West Side that aims to “serve as a gathering place for the Barrio and beyond.” Jaime’s Place provides space for education, community and advocacy, serving as a community hub, music venue and recording space for local musicians. Jaime’s Place will also host the project’s culminating event and multimedia exhibits.
Scholars also partner with Landin, involved in local politics and passionate about San Antonio history.
He has been very invested in documenting the history of our community, listening to our community through his work as Director of Equity and Social Advocacy with Bexar County, but also finding ways to ‘explore San Antonio’s musical contributions,’ Mendoza said.
While Mendoza and Gonzáles are excited to have community partners on board, they also recognize the university’s place in a project like this.
“One of the reasons we have UTSA, [is] to serve the Latino community,” Gonzáles said. “So who better to do this, document this and put it in the archives for these students to access? It’s fair, and I’m proud to be part of it. This is very important, and we need to do this, and I am happy that UTSA is supporting us, by making these grants available for this type of research.
Mendoza also believes that she and Gonzáles can bring a unique perspective and direction to research.
“One observation I have from West Side Sound – and from research in general – is that there is a tendency to privilege men in the process of collecting and preserving history,” she said. declared.