Tag Archives: Alex LaRotta

When Tejano Found Its Soul Power

While African Americans did the brunt of heavy lifting when it came to soul music in Houston, it’s a common misconception that they were alone in their musical direction at the time. Houston had its share of multicultural groups in the sixties and seventies that played along the same lines like Soul Bros INC and Masters of Soul. But, it was largely the Chicano groups that found inspiration and then their own interpretation with the genre.

I’ve asked compatriot, I’m Shakin Blog Man and Bayou City Soul Assistant Extraordinaire, Alex LaRotta to contribute a moment of his time to expound on the subject. LaRotta sent me three MP3s for your downloading pleasure and the following story that explains what happened when Chicanos put down the Accordion and started listening to James Brown records. -BK

Tejano Got Soul

As La Onda Chicana (The Chicano Wave) musical movement spread wide in America’s southwest in the mid ’60s, Texas was a breeding ground for a young generation of Chicanos making soul music their own groovy thing. Adding R&B beat and rock instrumentation into their musical repertoire, Tex-Mex soul/rock music legends like Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs, ? and the Mysterians (though from Michigan, recorded/produced in San Antonio with a distinct Tex-Mex sensibility), Doug Sahm and Sir Douglas Quintet, and El Bebop Kid (known popularly as chicano country star Freddie Fender) rose to pop prominence and inspired leagues of young Latinos to cut their own American-styled rock and soul records. In a matter of speaking–move over bajo sexto and accordion, I’ll take my guitar with an electric pickup.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Bayou City Soul, Chicano Soul

We Dance Just As Good As We Want

Photo by Mark Roach


Archie Bell Tightens Up

Last Week, I went out with Photographer Mark Roach and Assistant Extraordinaire Alex LaRotta to finally meet Mr. Tighten Up, Archie Bell and his lovely wife Juanita in the flesh. If you want to write and record the history of Houston soul music, you’d be hard pressed to come up with someone else that played such a vital roll in the story to start with.

The two were nothing but a pleasure to spend the afternoon with and Archie loaded us up with stories about starting out in Houston, what it was like touring Africa and plenty of other nuggets. Most interesting were some facts I had never learned in my years of research like the different figures that filled rolls as members of his group The Drells through their career and how Archie may have got his start in one very, very, very infamous local high school band.

You’ll be able to read all about it when the Bayou City Soul Project finishes later this year. Until then, check out a few of these great photos Mr. Roach took to tide you over and watch this video of Archie Bell and the Drells doing a live version of “Tighten Up.”
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Bayou City Soul