Los Kolaches mixes Mexican, Bohemian cultures
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Fifth annual Gonzales Main Street Concert Series
• WHEN: 7-10 p.m. Friday
• WHERE: The Confederate Square in downtown Gonzales at the corner of St. Lawrence and St. Paul streets
• COST: Free
• MORE INFO: cityofgonzales.org
When Mexican and Bohemian cultures collide, out come Los Kolaches.
Founded about three years ago, band leader Howard Gloor, who owns Howard's in Shiner, says the band is authentic to South Central Texas' heritage.
Gloor caught up with Get Out to talk about the band's upcoming performance in Gonzales.
I have to ask. What's your favorite kind of kolache?
OK. Now that's settled, how did the band settle on its name?
The name is literally what the band consists of. We've gone through a little bit of personnel change. At the time we started, we had Ruben Torres, Eddie Briseno, Marty Shimek, Carlos Orosco and myself. It was half and half - half Hispanic and half people of Czech and German heritage.
We were talking about the mixture of Mexican and Anglo. ... 'Yeah, we've got kolaches and tamales. How about Los Kolaches?'
It was a true mixture of Hispanic and Anglo, and the music is the same. We play a lot of Tejano, polkas and Czech stuff and everything from James Brown to Ray Price.
Carlos is kind of outnumbered now. Some gigs we play at, and we'll do some Tejano stuff; others it's only rock and roll or country. You play for whatever the crowd is. Right now it's Carlos, myself, Marty and Marty's son, Dustin, and DJ Darilek.
This sounds like a perfect blend of South Central Texas heritage.
Marty grew up playing in his parents' polka band. We make jokes that he didn't really know what rock 'n' roll was until he became a teenager. It was almost forbidden to listen to.
I grew up in the 60s playing rock and roll. DJ did, too; he was from Moulton.
I get a lot of influence from Marty because we play these Czech songs. They're things that are part of his heritage, and I love playing them.
Carlos grew up playing lots of Hispanic music. His father played accordion. Then he got into country, and I just grew up playing rock 'n' roll. I wasn't interested in playing country until I was about 40 and picked up the steel guitar.
Most polka bands - I'm especially thinking of Brave Combo - have a signature tune. What's Los Kolaches' signature song?
We'll generally do the "Shiner Polka" and a song called "Kaidu" I think that has something to do with a vest. It's sung in Czech. Marty and Carlos speak Czech. Marty sings the harmonies with Carlos when we're doing the Hispanic songs.
Our trademark we play at the end of the night - Louie Armstrong's song, "What a Wonderful World." Marty does an imitation of Louie Armstrong.
Marty learned it one night at a New Year's Eve party. Someone made a bet that he couldn't learn it.
Ever since then, we picked it up and use it as our closing song.
We do it the way it was done, the way Louie did it.
Did Los Kolaches set out to unite these two cultures?
I don't know if it's any high goals like that. I've been in positions before where I've played some of this music that was not of my culture and with people who weren't of that culture. When I got with these guys, it was like the real thing. This is not faking it.
These are the real guys playing this, and they know how it's supposed to sound.
To play the true music with the music who grew up playing it and know the way it's supposed to sound ... I'd never played in a polka band, but Marty brought the songs forward, it's true to its roots.
I was so appreciative that we had people in our group who knew how to play the music and weren't just imitating what they thought it was supposed to sound like.
What's the plan for the Gonzales festival?
We'll just get a good set list together so we can make everybody happy. We've played it before. We've got a keyboard player now, and so we can play songs we couldn't play before. We're happy about that.
What's been your highlight playing in the band?
Here a while back, we were asked to play at the nursing home in Shiner for the residents. In a funny kind of way, like when I was 16 years old playing in a rock 'n' roll band, I said I'll never play in a rest home. That was a highlight.
There's one lady, she had her eyes closed, and she was tapping her foot. I just knew that in her mind she was young and she was dancing again.
It's kind of corny sounding, but to me it meant a lot. It took them back.
I think that's why I was meant to do what I do. There's a reason for me to do this, to share that joy with others.