For those who want to get straight to the music, here’s the playlist. We hope you enjoy these tunes as much as we do. We included every song from the movie in here and the end result is over 50 tracks. This article serves as the extended liner notes with lots of links to follow the songs and artists you dig.
The movie covers 4 decades (60s — 00s) of underground music from the Rio Grande Valley. This soundtrack is a sort of musical bonanza with a plethora of styles. Genres include: Garage Rock, Chicano Funk, Psych Rock, Norteno, Chicano, Tejano, Experimental Tejano, Tejano-Country, Country, Classic Rock, New Wave Punk, Prog Rock, Hardcore, Death Metal, Black Metal, Alternative, Funk, Pop Punk, Grindcore, Emo, Tex-Mex Punk & Experimental.
A soundtrack has been the #1 request from those who have seen the film so we made this to serve as a companion piece to the movie providing some reference points and a little more texture. For those that haven’t seen it, we hope this can serve as an introduction to the documentary and the Valley itself. We hope you enjoy the music, it has been our pleasure to bring you this collection.
OK. You got it! Take it away!
The 60’s era of the Valley produced some of the most beautiful music on this soundtrack. Some of the rarest of collector’s items are the famed Pharaoh Records 45s recorded at Jimmy Nicholls’ studio in McAllen. This was a generation steeped in change, complexity and modernity. Life along the border was peaceful but it was grappling with the same racial and economic issues that plagued the deep south elsewhere.
The Valley saw three distinct musical scenes emerge. On the American side of the border cities were usually divided racially and economically by the railroad tracks. McAllen saw a distinct Northside sound emerge that was more influenced by the British Invasion. Bands such as The Headstones, Christopher and the Souls & The Playboys of Edinburg played church dances, street dances and the Civic Center. Motown influenced kids from the Southside would cycle through the same venues brining a distinctly different sound. The Inkeeper Band, Our Generation & SCAM provide a window into a different scene and a different world happening in McAllen at the same time.
At the same time the Mexican side of the border had the actual venues for local musicians to ply their trade. Bands such as Los Johnny Jets, Los Yaki, Las Hermanas Jimenez & La Division Del Norte could be found all along the border towns playing a mixture of originals along with many rock and roll refritos. This dynamic created a vibrant north Mexico border scene who’s artists served as musical ambassadors to the rest of Mexico, oftentimes going on to bigger success in Mexico nationally.
The Cruisers — An Angel Like You (1962)
The Cruisers are one of the older Valley bands from the garage rock era. The band formed in Harlingen around 1961 after Ralph Escobedo got back from the Army. The doo-wop sounds of “An Angel Like You” illustrate a transitional moment from the classic rock of the 50s to the wilder sounds to come. Like many musicians of the region, The Cruisers catered to multiple audiences to make a living. We feature their Spanish language border ballad “El Barrio” at the opening of the film. The song laments how empty their neighborhood in Harlingen Tx felt when all the families would leave to do migrant work. It also pays tribute to their bass player who was killed in Vietnam. EJ Ledesma, who wrote the song, went on to pen hits for Selena and La Mafia. Ralph Escobedo still performs with Ralph and The Cruisers all over the Valley.
The Playboys of Edinburg — Look at Me Girl (1966)
The Playboys of Edinburg were one of the most highly regarded and successful bands to come out of the garage rock era in the RGV. Unparalleled vocal harmonies were paired with James Williams’ masterful songwriting to create an irresistible sound. Their catchy tunes were ever-present at the Mcallen Civic Center, street dances and on KRIO radio’s weekly top 40. When Bobby Vee covered “Look At Me Girl” in 1966 the band got the attention of Columbia Records. Right after high school they signed a record deal and became overnight rock stars on tour. In 1971 The Playboys took a psychedelic turn, shortened their name to POE and released their most ambitious and far-out record to date. “Up Through the Spiral,” was recorded in McAllen by Jimmy Nicholls and drew heavily on psychedelia as well as the life story of American mystic Edgar Casey.
The Cavaliers— Symbols of Sin (1966)
The Cavaliers AKA Thee Kavaliers were at the intersection of a scene and city divided brightly into north and south by the railroad tracks. A mixture of Southside and Northside McAllen band members, their origins are as symbolic as they are legendary. Singer Javier Rios recounts in the film about growing up as a migrant worker, having come over at the age of 7 in 1955. He talks about working in the fields thinking about the music he would hear at diner jukeboxes along the way. The Cavs were yet another band to cut classic tracks at Pharaoh records. “Symbols of Sin” was one of the first tracks we heard as we were doing research for the film. It is in our trailer and it also kicks off Cicadelic Records’ Congregation For Anti-Flirts Inc., a recent compilation of 60's era Valley bands.
Play Song: Symbols of Sin
Artist: Congregation For Anti-Flirts Inc. (Cicadelic Records)
La Division Del Norte— It’s a New Day (1971)
LDdN was a fixture in the Mcallen/Reynosa scene during the late 60s and early 70s. Wayo’s family owned and operated The Alaska nightclub, one of the border’s hottest nightspots. Blending psychedelic heavy guitar rock and Mexican revolutionary imagery, LDdN went on to play Avandaro, one of the largest music festivals in Mexican history, in 1971. Reynosa and the border towns of Mexico were arguably the real home of rock and roll in the 60's and 70's in the Valley. Border towns were advertised as entertainment getaways to Anglos from the states and as such had all the clubs. Bands on the Mexican side of the border played 10 hr sets in English and Spanish to entertain day trippers and local cantina patrons. A new sound began to creep into Mexico from American radio that could be heard in border towns like Reynosa. In Mexico this era is known as La Onda Chicana and it embraced the hippie and psychedelic elements of the global sixties.
More featured tracks from the 60s
Description: (1967) Brownsville Garage Rock
Play Song: Tell Her
Artist: The Foamy Brine
Description: (1965) McAllen Sunshine pop
Play Song: Oh Yes Tonight
Artist: Arturo & Pat w/ The Invaders
Play Song: My Twistin’ Mexicali Baby
Artist: Robert Burnie
The 1970s were an interesting moment in Valley music. The social movements of the late 60’s gave rise to an audience empowered and proud of their Mexican-American heritage but also influenced by Rock-n-Roll, Country, and American Pop. This mixture led to iconoclastic hybrids by a generation of artists creating music that straddled genre and geography as the pop music of The Valley took a decidedly different direction than what was going on elsewhere in the United States. This is also an era marked by some of the greatest success stories in Valley Music as bands like Toby Beau and Freddy Fender achieved national notoriety and crossover acclaim.
Esteban Jordan — Tun Tecato Run (1979)
Esteban Jordan AKA Steve Jordan stands right at the crossroads of Chicano identity and music in the Rio Grande Valley. Jordan grew up in a migrant family, but learned to play musical instruments early. He was partially blinded at birth and worked the fields less than the rest of the family but would spend his time practicing. As a child he was a musical prodigy and grew up to become a towering figure in Tejano music. Steve was an accordion player as highly regarded as Flaco Jimenez, Valerio Longoria and Narciso Martinez but restless. He thought of himself as a jazz musician playing at the edges of the emerging Chicano style. Run Tecato Run is a great, Curtis Mayfield-esque, example of this. An accordion based psych-funk that was made for a film by Efraín Gutiérrez of the same name that was penned by his brother and long-time bandmate Bonifacio. As an activist, he is best known for his composition, “La Marcha del Campesino”, which documents the 1977 Texas Farm Workers Union march from the Valley in San Juan to Washington DC. These days you can still here the music of Steve Jordan and new tunes played by his sons Esteban Jordan III and Ricardo Jordan of Rio Jordan.
Freddy Fender — Wasted Days and Wasted Nights (1959/1975)
The shadow of Baldemar Garza Huerta looms large over his hometown of San Benito Texas. Better known in the country world as Freddy Fender (a stage name he took to “sell better with the Gringos”) he scored a series of hits in the rockabilly world as the “Bebop Kid” and later selling millions of records as a full country artist both solo and with Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, and Flaco Jimenez as The Texas Tornados. Even with his success, he continued to inject his culture into his music, frequently code-switching between English and Spanish and exposing southern audiences to his RGV-grown charm and charisma. Today you can see the water tower that bears his image and visit the Freddy Fender Museum curated by his brother Joe Mendez, both in San Benito. Here we are presenting the original Wasted Days he wrote when he was known as the Bebop Kid alongside the more famous Country version.
Country Roland— El Corrido de Kikker Daddy (2016)
Country Roland is regarded as “The Father of Tejano-Country”. He and his family band combined bilingualism, Tejano-style dancing and storytelling, as well as country instruments and twang. They were one of the largest drawing acts in The Valley for many years, and consistently packed large venues such as The Villa Real in Mission, Tx during the 70s and 80s. In fact they played the first show The Villa Real ever had on December 3rd 1977. Roland and the band would play on Urban Cowboy Nite, the Valley’s own tip of the hat to the Travolta classic and the era it inspired. The jump from Huapangos to Two-step didn’t take long and soon other acts followed such as the Texas Country Band and the Rawhide Band. This version of El Corrido de Kikker Daddy is performed by Roland’s children and grandchildren who continue his legacy of Tejano Country.
Toby Beau — My Angel Baby (1978)
A Group Called Air formed in Weslaco, TX in the early 70s. Featuring Danny McKenna and Balde Silva, the two went on to form Toby Beau. Named after a shrimping boat Danny liked out at South Padre Island, Toby Beau’s Southern Rock sound reflected that carefree era and setting. The band performed all over The Valley before leaving to San Antonio, where they scored a major record deal with RCA. After recording their first album, the band moved to New York, and would go on to tour with artists and bands such as KISS, The Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Seger, the Steve Miller Band and others. Their hit “My Angel Baby,” a pop ballad, was released in May of ’78 and knocked Barbara Streisand out of the number one spot on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. Classic rock lovers can still hear the band from time to time back at SPI where it all began.
More featured tracks from the 70s
Going from the 70s to the 80s the heights of Tejano music quickly overcame its humble Chicano origins. The Valley as a place was also changing rapidly. The region was growing and urbanizing and a new generation of kids wasn’t listening to what their parents danced to anymore. This new generation was plugged into the emerging underground of punk music. One of the true musical discoveries of this film was to find the Valley’s first punk band, The Steroids. The kids were listening to music coming out of DC and Austin and were ordering tapes from Thrasher Magazine to skate to. Eventually, MTV and Metallica dominated the airwaves opening up a new dark-age of metal worldwide. The new songs were distorted and angry but importantly, they where also in English. The loss of a language reflects that an important cultural shift is taking place at this time.
The Steroids—Hey Mr. President (1980)
In the era between the Punk movement of the late 70’s and the New Wave of the 80’s you’ll find The Steroids. The first RGV punk band. They combined angular guitar sounds with driving rhythms and a larger-than-life stage presence often to the bafflement of local audiences. Like many bands of this day, there was not yet a scene to sustain them and no venues willing to provide an incubator to grow. So they put on DIY shows on flatbed trailers, backyards, warehouses, and occasionally at The Starship (a local disco). Marty and Dale were also prolific home-recordists compiling a large library of Steroids tracks and even helping other bands like prog-rockers Masque get their records made. Hey Mr. President is a tongue-in-cheek recounting of the assassination attempt on Ronald Regan. The group ultimately disbanded when drummer Ray Sarabia passed away in the early 80's.
Confused — I Love Hardcore (1986)
Confused is one of the RGVs longest continually-running hardcore bands. In the late 1980s, they played along bands like Disgust and The Fart Blossoms From Uranus in rented halls like The Sun Palace in Edinburg and the Palmer Pavilion in McAllen as well as abandoned buildings and on the banks of the Rio Grande River at FUBAR parties. Their energetic sound and sarcastic, in-your-face lyrics made them a local favorite. Through decades and lineup changes Confused has kept the moshpits grinding and putting out new music. The anthem “I Love Hardcore” is undoubtedly one of their most iconic songs.
Disgust — Brave New World (1988)
A bunch of little kids would get up on stage and tear it up every single time. Living in the after glow of Black Flag and Minor Threat, Disgust and Confused were the first wave of dominant hardcore punk bands in the Valley. They were skate-boarders and former breakdancers who were charting a new aesthetic. This short-lived band was uniquely heavy and uniquely political for their age. You can hear singer Brian Nueberg introduce their Hegel influenced “The Absolute Idea” at a live set played at the Palmer Pavilion in the documentary. Nueberg was a straight-A, straight-edge, anti-racist skinhead who put every cell of himself into his performance. Their live performance would circulate on VHS in the RGV underground for years after inspiring later bands like Victoria’s Secret and IPM. Here we present the Huxley influenced “Brave New World” from their 1988 demo recorded at a Tejano studio.
Severance — Decimation (1991)
Death Metal band “Rest In Pain” razed the ground around 1989 throughout the Valley. They would soon change their name Severance and build a reputation as one of the heaviest bands to ever come out of The Valley. Their sound came at a time when the nation was intermittently gripped with the “Satanic Panic” of the 80s and early 90s. Diligently tape trading and corresponding with fans from around the world, the band was able to build an international following. Severance still tours in their current incarnation and can be found playing some of the biggest metal festivals in the world. It is also worth noting that they, along with Confused, are one of the longest-running underground RGV bands still in existence.
More featured tracks from the 80s
Description: (1981) McAllen Prog-Rock
Play Song: Revelation
Description: (1989) Snotty McAllen Skate-punk
Play Song: I’m to Blame
Artist: The Phlegms
Description: (1987) Frenetic McAllen Punk-Rock
Play Song: Draw the Line
Artist: Fart Blossoms From Uranus
Description: (1987) Frenetic McAllen Punk-Rock
Play Song: Vietnam
Artist: Fart Blossoms From Uranus
The 90s into the early 2000s represent the high water mark for our documentary. This era has the most bands, the most musical variety and perhaps the most structure in regards to the Union. It’s in this stretch of time that the underground learns how to sustain itself in quinceañera halls and backyards. It was a time of manifestos and message boards. For whatever reason they told themselves, “If the kids can come together they can change the world forever.” Maybe they did and maybe they didn’t but it’s clear they set the tone and expectations for the Valley scene going forward.
Panteon — Beauty and the Priest (2014)
Brownsville metal icons Panteon have been bringing the darkness since ’91. The underground in Brownsville has always been more diabolical than it’s north-western companions in McAllen. Early adopters of the Black Metal sound, Pateon soon found a receptive crowd in their hometown. The stage at Chapa’s Bar which permanently bares their name along with the number of the beast. The legend goes that when the owner decided to change the venue from a cantina to a rock bar, Panteon were invited to come scare off the regulars with their evil riffs and corpse painted faces. The vengeful “Beauty and the Priest” alludes to a well known episode in the Rio Grande Valley’s past.
IPM — Spinal Tap (Slow Beginnings) (1991)
IPM was a life of ‘single digits’ in more ways than one, meaning they were young, ambitious, & resourceful. They made the best with what we had to create and play music their way. Influential Phecal Material symbolized the emerging alternative scene of the early 90s. Inspired by their parents’ 60s rebellion and DIY South Texas Hardcore they expressed a punk energy with a spirit to be unique. This generation of kids is responsible for finding and institutionalizing Trenton Point as a venue for the local scene. That venue would stay a focal point in the Valley for the next 20 years.
Play Song: Spinal Tap (Slow Beginnings)
Vestido — Clock, Clock (1997)
In the mid-90s an all-girl punk group from Reynosa called Vestido raged for punks on both sides of the border. Their shows were known for severed doll heads glued to the mic stand, and Cecy’s pogo-ball bass performances. She went on to help found Chicasrock, a rock-oriented youth-program for girls in Corpus Christi. One of their crazier shows, immortalized in the Inkbag song “Friday the 13th,” paints a picture of Reynosa when it was still fun and 100% rasquache. Today you can find Cecy, El Dusty and Master Blaster Sound System at the nexus of Cumbia Crunk, Roots Norteño and Deep Club tracks.
Inkbag — 10 Minutes Love (2001)
Inkbag was a pop-punk power trio from McAllen. The late 90s saw a huge influx of pop punk bands and Inkbag was one of the first to find a devoted following. The band could be found regularly at Trenton Point, the new focal point of the scene. Drummer Bob E Ink created the first local music message board, the Valley Punk Page. This AOL era tech eventually merged with the ascendant Union of Hardcore and Punk to create the Union Message Board. The scene wouldn’t have been the same without the Union Board, it cemented and encapsulated a nascent community of artists, poets and musicians. 10 Minutes Love was featured on the compilation: Desperately Famished Bands which was compiled and released by The Union.
Play Song: 10 Minutes Love
The Malcontent Party — Union (2002)
In the late 90s/early 00s We Suck and later The Malcontent Party dominated the underground scene in South Texas. With Andrew Villareal, Chris, Lucas and fronted by Marc Villareal AKA “Marc Hardcore.” His between-song-banter often took on the emotion of a rousing political speech or a punk-rock sermon in the cavernous Trenton Point inspiring many valley youth to choose action and creativity over apathy. Equal parts dancy and heavy, the call and response went: “I’m harcore what are you, too Hardcore For You!!” Their most political track is undoubtedly “Union” which embodied an ethos and whole generation of millennial Valley punks. The song was a call to unite Valley bands and to establish a scene that could last. The Union of Hardcore and Punk was formed in the late 90s/early 00s as a response to the lack of any kind of institutional support from the city for local original music. The group met regularly and established a democratized incubator for local musicians and artists. It’s purpose was to raise funds to rent halls to play music and to keep that going as long as possible. The experiment was incredibly successful to the point where the extra money was used to press a Union Compilation on CD (a big accomplishment in the late 90s.) Their DIY model showed the next generation of promoters how to throw their own shows. The influence of the Union is still ever present in the scene today.
Play Song: Union
Artist: The Malcontent Party
More featured tracks from the 90s
Description: (1993) McAllen Funk-Core
Play Song: Hit Me
Description: (199X) Brownsville Street-Punk
Play Song: Loudmouth
Artist: The Rejected
Description: (1996) McAllen Lo-fi punk
Play Song: Frustration
Artist: Big 33
Description: (1997) Mission Spicore Americana
Play Song: Racist’s Venom
Description: (2000) Brownsville Pop-Punk
Play Song: Die for a Cry
Artist: Happy Hour
Description: (2000) McAllen Pop-Punk
Play Song: Fuck Off!!!!
Artist: All Choked Up
Description: (2001) McAllen Power Violence
Play Song: Front Line 4
Artist: Deadhead Battlefield
Description: (2001) McAllen Experimental Post-Rock
Play Song: Knife Handles (Mercenary Song #1)
Artist: Charlie Daniels Deathwish
Description: (2002) McAllen Pop-Punk
Play Song: Mullet Song
Artist: Fhatt Chester
Opening, Closing & Credits
It was impossible for us to include all the music that should have been in the documentary. Each era contained multiple scenes in multiple cities so we truly only scratched the surface. But we hope that AIWTTV can serve as a brief glance at the mosaic web of life and music in the RGV.
Finally, we’d like to highlight the tracks that bookend the picture. These take us closer to the present and include two songs composed for the film by us, the filmmakers.
End Credits Tracks
Description: (1965) Weslaco Chicano R&B
Play Song: My Baby Hurts Me
Artist: Simon Reyes & The Outerlimits