Sunny & The Sunliners -
No One Else Will Do
Sunny Ozuna is the Elvis, Beatles and Sinatra of the Mexican-American music world. No singer in Tejano history has made as much of an impact or had such a long and fruitful career. He began with a group called the Sunglows, then decided to leave Sunglow records and join up with Huey Meaux's Tear Drop label, where he reformed his backing band and called them the Sunliners. After an early tweak in members, the band stayed the same line up for over 10 years. As did most Tejano groups of the time, they predominately recorded polkas and boleros, but as the doo-wop and r&b sounds became more popular, they would find ways to incorporate these sounds into their sets to please their audiences. Sunny (seen here, on the right) has made several outstanding Chicano Soul sides, but after my years of searching them out, this one still remains my personal favorite.
Henry & His Kasuals -
Henry & His Kasuals is another in the long list of San Antonio bands with little-to-no information about them. Their only recorded material was released on the Cobra label throughout 1965 and 1966. The record credits the producer as Abe Epstein, who owned and played a significant role in many other Tejano labels, including the successful Jox label. Henry Pena was the leader of the Kasuals, who consisted of Gordy Saldivar, Frank Lujan, and Richard Hernandez. Henry was a local DJ at KUKA, which also employed another successful Tejano artist, Jesse Vallado (aka Little Jr. Jesse) at the time.
Los Stardusters -
All Night Worker
Little is known about Los Stardusters. There were releases by a Houston group called The Stardusters on the Pic-1 label (also run by Huey Meaux), but it has not been confirmed that they are the same group. Here they cover the Rufus Thomas classic "All Night Worker" and work it out quite nicely. There is an LP with the same name, and thus far, I haven't been able to track one down. One day.
The Royal Jesters -
Take Me For A Little While
Take Me For A Little While
The Royal Jesters are one of the more successful groups to have come from the San Antonio Tejano scene. They changed members quite often, but always maintained a quality group sound. When Dimas Garza joined the group in 1962, he brought to Tejano a profound increase in the soul and harmony that was becoming widely popular in black musics. The Jesters continued to produce great Chicano Soul, while implementing the hip sounds of the times. They even have more disco influenced records that aren't too shabby. This song is a bit of an oddity, combining the beefy production of soul music with a more pop-psych edge to the writing and arrangement. It gets a little "out there" at times, but is always followed by the minimalist bass and drums that really draw me to the track.
Side Note: There is very little written trail of information about the history of Tejano soul and rock. It is quite hard to find out who the players were and what happened when. To date, the most informative resource (and pretty much, only resource!) i have found is a book that was put out about a year ago, called "Chicano Soul" by Ruben Molina. It is quite informative and has many great pictures and label scans. I recommend checking it out.