San Antonio's the Krayolas began in the mid-'70s as teenage pop/rockers and with time have matured into one of Texas' best-respected independent rock bands. The Krayolas were formed in 1975 by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Hector Saldana and his brother David Saldana, who handled vocals, percussion, and sometimes keyboards. While arena rock was dominating radio and the outlaw country scene was all the rage in Texas, the Saldana brothers (still in high school at the time) offered something different: upbeat pop tunes with ringing guitars, catchy hooks, and crisp harmonies. Also featuring guitarist Van Baines and bassist Barry Smith, the Krayolas began playing local clubs and soon earned a reputation in San Antonio as "the Tex-Mex Beatles" for their energetic retro-inspired sound.
In 1977, the Krayolas cut their debut single, "All I Do Is Try" b/w "Sometime" and released a second 7", "Aw Tonight" b/w "Roadrunner," later the same year; both appeared on their own label, Box Records. The Krayolas released a steady stream of singles over the next several years while playing throughout the Southwest, and Sir Douglas Quintet keyboardist Augie Meyers and local legends the West Side Horns made guest appearances on their sessions. The Krayolas released their first full-length album, Kolored Music, in 1982, with Dead End Life following in 1987. However, despite positive reviews and a loyal local following, the Krayolas were unable to expand their fan base beyond Texas and Oklahoma, and in 1988 the band split up.
In 2007, Hector Saldana assembled Best Riffs Only, a compilation of the Krayolas' out of print singles and some rare tracks; the band reunited to play some shows in support of the release (with Joe Sarli taking over on bass), and Augie Meyers approached the band with a recently rediscovered demo for a tune he'd written for the Sir Douglas Quintet in 1967. Meyers urged the Krayolas to record "Little Fox," and the band quickly cut an EP featuring the song. "Little Fox" earned enough local airplay and positive reviews that the Krayolas began work on a full-length album, La Conquistadora, which was released in 2008.
The reunited Krayolas became unexpectedly prolific, playing frequent shows and releasing another full-length album, Long Leaf Pine (No Smack Gum) in 2009. Long Leaf Pine included the song "Corrido Twelve Heads in a Bag," a powerful song about the Mexican drug wars written in the style of a traditional folk song; the tune earned the group plenty of press coverage, including a feature story on National Public Radio. Another new album from the Krayolas, Americano, arrived in 2010; the disc was the group's first bilingual release and featured guest performances by Flaco Jiménez and Augie Meyers. ~ Mark Deming