Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sam's Benefit July 30

In the aftermath of the June 24 shootings at Taco Land, there were hopes and prayers that bartender Denise "Sunshine" Koger and doorman "Gypsy" Doug Morgan would survive the attack that claimed the life of Ram Ayala, the storied owner of the storied place.

Musicians and fans sprang into action to put together benefits to pay tribute to Ram while raising money for Koger and Morgan. Sam's Burger Joint, up the street from Taco Land, had an opening July 30 and immediately that date was pegged for a Taco Land fundraiser.

Morgan died July 13; Koger is recovering. But the mourning continues and it's likely there'll be more good stories and more good will Saturday at Sam's when a bunch of artists, including Bone Machine, Satantonio, Double Clutch, Prepare to Defend It, Racing for Last, Claude "Butch" Morgan & H!X and Eric Geyer team to remember Ram and Doug and continue to send get-well wishes and give a monetary assist to Sunshine.

Jim Beal Jr


Saturday, July 23, 2005

"You wanna fucking beer?"

A Familiar Site, originally uploaded by H. Michael karshis.
Man, I'd love to be able to stop by Taco Land and have Ram serve me an ice cold Lone Star right now.

True - 1st time at Tocoland I went with my spouse Linda. In awe of the place. Sons of Hercules was setting up and starting to play. I went to the bar and there was Ram, sunglasses and all. I meekly asked "for a bud light and asked what kind of wine coolers do you have?" Ram answered "You wanna fucking beer?" He was talking to a waitress and not paying me any attention. I said "yes, I want a beer and a wine cooler" Ram said " No, do you want a fucking beer?" with a very slight grin on his face. So I said "Ya I want a fucking beer'. He handed me a miller lite, and I asked for a wine cooler and got whatever. I sat there at the small bar and had about 3 more beers(bud lites) and talked to Ram a little more that night and realized he was just a regular guy, loved the women, loved getting people to loosen up, and loved running Tocoland. These stories make sure his life becomes legend.

Kieth Briggs

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Jump Start Gathering for "Gypsy" Doug

"Gypsy" Doug Morgan passed away at 8:29 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2005 at University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. There will be a gathering in his honor at the Jump Start Theater in the Blue Star Complex on South Alamo Street on Monday, July 18th starting at 6:00 PM.

Thanks to Saxman Georgefor the update.

Rest In Peace Doug "Gypsy" Morgan

Taco Land shooting claims another life

Mary Moreno
Express-News Staff Writer

His mother had told him it was OK to let go. And Wednesday night, Doug "Gypsy" Morgan did just that.

After more than two weeks of trying to recover from a gunshot wound that pierced his intestines, Morgan, 53, became the second fatality of the June 25 shooting at Taco Land that also claimed the life of the iconic bar's owner, Ramiro "Ram" Ayala.

Police have said Ayala, Morgan and Denise "Sunshine" Koger were shot during a robbery at the Grayson Street bar. Ayala was shot first, then Morgan and finally Koger. Koger has told Morgan's family that he saved her life by shielding her from the gunfire.

An anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers led to the arrests of Joseph Gamboa, 22, and Jose Najera, 29. Each was charged with one count of capital murder and two counts of attempted capital murder and remained jailed.

It wasn't immediately known if Morgan's death would result in upgraded charges.

Morgan died at University Hospital at about 8:30 p.m. with his mother, stepfather, sister and a friend keeping him company.

Morgan had seemed to be recovering from his injuries after operations to repair his intestines, said his mother, Barbara Morgan Hecox. He sat up, talked a bit and even smiled. He asked about what had happened at the bar and when told his good friend Ayala had died, he cried.

But Morgan developed internal infections and his kidneys began to malfunction, and then so did his liver. And his intestines were leaking.

"He is considered septic right now," Hecox said minutes before Morgan died.

Doctors told his mother, who arrived here Saturday from Albuquerque, N.M., that any further treatment was futile, that Morgan likely wouldn't survive another surgery. She then made the difficult choice to have him removed from life support Monday morning, leaving his family with nothing to do but wait for him to die.

Hecox said that although her son was unconscious for the last few days of his life, she held his hand and talked to him, hoping that would provide him some comfort.

"It's OK to go anytime you're ready," Hecox told her son. "Everybody here loves you."

While waiting at University during what would be her son's last hours, Hecox talked proudly of him, about his vast book collection and his immense love of music. Morgan had more than 100 boxes filled with books. He had always loved to read, absorbed much of it and used it to debate with anyone who would take him on.

"Although he just went through high school, he was so well read," she said.

And the music was why he worked as a doorman at Taco Land — a place Hecox thought was a pizza place. He loved the bands and being around musicians.

Hecox said there was a blessing in having to come here — she found out how many friends her son had.

Because they lived so far away from each other, Hecox worried constantly about the son she adopted when he was 3 months old.

She worried that he didn't have a bed to lie on because he was sometimes homeless. She worried about his health because he battled cancer and had hepatitis C. She also wondered if he was alone.

During her stay here, she found out he wasn't. A steady stream of musicians, artists and "even normal people," she said laughing, went by the hospital to visit her son.

"It's just been a revelation," she said. "There's this wonderful guy that half of San Antonio loves and that makes us feel welcome and proud."

Morgan's friends told her stories of his generosity and kindness, about how he babysat for friends and made sure the bands that played at Taco Land were taken care of. "It's been good for us to hear about it," she said.

Hecox said her son would be cremated, and although she would like to have his remains closer to her, she's not taking him with her.

"He belongs in Texas," she said sobbing. "So we'll leave him here."

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sad News For Gypsy Doug

Hello Friends of Doug Morgan. Dougs Mother and I met with his
surgeon today. The last 72 hours has seen Doug condition go steadily
down. His stomach wound has ruptured and another operation would be
necessary to repair it. That means they would have to perform the
whole operation again and do extensive exploratory work. His liver is
just about done as the Hepititus C and just the energy the liver had
to exert the last two weeks has greatly depleted it's strength. Now
his kidneys are really slowing down and he has had sever seizures.
His pulse is slowing as well. He is currently on life support. After
conferring with his surgeon, Dougs Mom, Barbara, and his sister
decided that it would serve Dougs best interest to stop all life
support, and simply let him rest comfortably, making sure he is not
in pain. The prognosis for recovery was very very slim, .05% at best
and that would be nursing home and dialysis. He would also still have
to have chemotherapy for his liver problems. His quality of life
would be very poor IF he even made it through the surgery to repair
the new rupture.

This is sad news for those of us who love Gypsy Doug, but in the
light of all the Dr. said the family believes it is the best for
Doug, and that it would be his wishes as well... So tomorrow at 9 a.m.
all assistance will stop. He will be treated for comfort only. The
Dr. says once the life support is removed it would not be very long
before he just goes to his eternal rest. At that point all of Dougs
problems will cease and he will be healed forever. To that we can all
say Hallelujah.

There will be a service, I will send out a notice and the newspaper
will have all the details. Thank you for your support and prayers,
they are needed now for the immediate family and close friends of
Gypsy Doug.

Claude "Butch" Morgan

Friday, July 08, 2005

Memorial & Fundraiser at Casbeers

Ram, Sunshine & Doug

Jim Beal
San Antonio Express News

Memorials for Taco Land's Ram Ayala, and benefits for bartender Denise "Sunshine" Koger and doorman "Gypsy" Doug Morgan, the two people wounded the night Ram was slain in his storied bar, continue.

Casbeers comes off of vacation tonight with a memorial/fundraiser featuring some of the bands whose members number their involvement at Taco Land in decades — Mitch Webb & the Swindles, The Infidels, True Stories, Butch Morgan & H!X and Los #3 Dinners. There'll likely be some guests.

With that bunch, patrons will hear rock 'n' roll galore plus stories that go back to the time when Taco Land was the performing home for conjuntos and West Side R&B bands as well as punk bands and those who stretch musical boundaries.

Other benefits/tributes are in the works. Word is there'll be one tonight at the Wiggle Room, though there are no details. Sam's Burger Joint will be the setting for a tribute/benefit July 30.

And there is good news from the medical front. Koger has been released from the hospital. Morgan is still in intensive care but is improving.

Organizers of the benefits and musicians who participate are being realistic. Everyone knows benefits will never raise enough money to pay off medical bills. But all are bound and determined to make sure Koger and Morgan don't have to struggle to do things such as pay rent and utilities while they recover.

San Antonio Express News Front Page

Read The Full Story

Joseph Gamboa & Jose Najera Charged In Slaying

Vianna Davila
Express-News Staff Writer

Two men were charged Thursday with capital murder and two counts of attempted capital murder in a shooting at the Taco Land music venue.

The attack in the early hours of June 24 claimed the life of the club's owner, Ramiro "Ram" Ayala, and sent two employees to the hospital.

Fingerprints found on a pool cue and the identification of the men in photo lineups earlier this week led officials to issue the charges, police Sgt. Gabe Trevino said.

Joseph Gamboa, 22, already was in Bexar County Jail on charges of attempted capital murder and attempted murder in connection with a South Side shooting spree that took place two days after the Taco Land slaying, Trevino said.

He was re-arrested and charged Thursday afternoon.

A police SWAT team arrested Jose Najera, 29, without incident at a house in the 500 block of Wilmington Avenue about 3:10 p.m. Thursday.

Najera's was held in lieu of posting combined bonds of $700,000. Gamboa's bond wasn't immediately known.

The slaying of Ayala, owner of the small, grisly nightclub in the 100 block of West Grayson Street, shocked the community. Both the venue itself and Ayala had become mainstays of the city's underground music scene since he converted the spot into a bar in 1969.

Witnesses said both men had spent part of that night drinking and playing pool inside Taco Land.

Trevino said detectives believe Gamboa fired the shots that hit the bar owner and wounded Denise Koger, 41, and Douglas Morgan, 53.

Morgan, the club doorman, remained in serious condition Thursday at University Hospital. Koger, a bartender, had been discharged.

The only known motive for the 1 a.m. shooting is robbery, the sergeant said. Money from the cash register was taken before the attackers fled in a silver sports car.

Music promoter and longtime Taco Land devotee Roland Fuentes wasn't there that night because the scheduled bands had canceled. But some time after the shooting, he talked to Koger, who told him the assailants never before had been inside the bar.

"They didn't look familiar," Koger reportedly told Fuentes. "They didn't know how much beer prices were. They didn't know a lot of little things like the regulars would know."

That night, Najera wore an old San Antonio Spurs championship T-shirt, according to an arrest affidavit. The shooting occurred a few hours after the team clinched the NBA Championship.

Najera first denied being at the club, saying he was at his girlfriend's house and then left for home after the Spurs' win.

He later admitted he got one beer at Taco Land and then left before the shooting took place, the affidavit stated.

A witness quoted in a June 25 San Antonio Express-News report said he saw one of the attackers strike up a conversation with Ayala and then stick a gun in his gut before he fired.

The affidavit said both Koger and Morgan then got down on the ground behind the bar. When Morgan got up to help Ayala, Gamboa asked him if he planned to help get the money. Then Gamboa shot him.

Najera commanded Gamboa to "make the bitch open the cash register," the affidavit continued. Gamboa grabbed Koger by the hair and forced her to open the register. She turned around to open another drawer filled with money when Gamboa shot her in the back.

The status of the case seemed static until Saturday, when a witness who played pool with Gamboa and then watched the shooting identified him from a photo lineup. Gamboa's fingerprints were found on a pool cue, Trevino added.

Detectives questioned Najera on Monday; and two days later, Koger picked out his image from another lineup, Trevino said.

How investigators narrowed their search to the men remains unclear.

Prior to their arrests Thursday, both Gamboa and Najera had a tower of other charges stacked against them.

Gamboa had been in jail since June 27, the day after he's accused of speeding through the South Side on a would-be killing spree and firing on four people, wounding two of them.

He was arrested just days before he was to appear in District Court on a December charge of felony possession of a firearm, according to Bexar County records.

He also had a list of other convictions against him, including burglary of a building and possession of a knife.

A July 26 court date was set for Gamboa on a marijuana possession charge.

Najera's criminal history is similarly varied: He pleaded no contest to burglary of a vehicle and two counts of vehicle theft in 2000; and again pleaded no contest to another charge of vehicle theft and evading arrest in 2003.

He pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a vehicle in 1997.

Hours after the pair were charged in the Taco Land slaying, Fuentes fielded phone calls as news of the arrests spread.

He was relieved but also felt more sadness knowing two suspects were behind bars.

"Now I know for sure that it's the end," Fuentes said.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Two Charged In Taco Land Slaying

Web Posted: 07/07/2005 05:36 PM CDT

Vianna Davila
Express-News Staff Writer

Two men were charged with capital murder and two counts of attempted capital murder today for a shooting last month at the legendary music venue Taco Land.

The incident claimed the life of the club’s owner, Ramiro “Ram” Ayala, and sent two employees to the hospital in critical condition.

Joseph Gamboa, 22, was already in Bexar County Jail on charges of attempted capital murder and attempted murder for a South Side shooting spree that took place two days after the June 24 homicide at Taco Land in the 100 block of West Grayson, said San Antonio Police Department Sgt. Gabe Trevino.

He was re-arrested and charged this afternoon.

Jose Najera, 29, was arrested without incident today by the San Antonio Police Department SWAT team around 3:10 p.m. at a near-downtown home in the 500 block of Wilmington Avenue, almost at the same time police sent out a media advisory asking for information leading to his whereabouts.

Their bond was not immediately available.

Both men had been drinking at the bar, playing pool and conversing with Ayala before detectives believe Gamboa fired the shots that hit Ayala and wounded 41-year-old Denise Koger and Douglas Morgan, 53, Trevino said.

The only known motive for the shooting is robbery, Trevino said. Money from the cash register was taken before the men fled in a silver sports car.

Investigators linked both Gamboa and Najera to the crime through photo lineups and Gamboa’s fingerprints on a pool cue from inside the bar, Trevino said.

A witness said he had played pool with Gamboa that June night. Then he watched his pool partner shoot Ayala, Trevino said.

On July 2, Gamboa was identified from a photo lineup. Detectives questioned Najera July 4; two days later, Koger picked out his image from another lineup, Trevino said.

“There was information specific to these suspects before they were put in those lineups,” Trevino said.

Police Charge Suspected Taco Land Murderers

From WOAI 4:50:45 PM

Joseph Gamboa and Jose Najera were charged today with the murder of Taco Land owner Ram Ayala. Gamboa was already in custody at the Bexar County Jail on unrelated charges. Najera was arrested today.

Seventy-two-year-old Ram Ayala was shot to death as he sat at his popular bar on Grayson Street near downtown on June 24th. Denise Koger and Douglas Morgan were also shot in the robbery, but they survived. They remain hospitalized in critical condition.

Crimestoppers was offering a $5,000 reward for information about the murder.

Ayala's family told News 4 WOAI Tacoland most likely close because of their father's death. “The business itself, without my father there is no Tacoland,” Ayala’s daughter Sylvia Navarro said. “Tacoland was reminiscent of Ram Ayala and it was all about my father. Without him, it is not the same.”

Ramiro “Ram” Ayala ran Taco Land, a bar known for helping develop and showcase countless musicians.

“It's a sad day in the music business,” explains booking agent Roland Fuentes. “Tacoland was Ram. His attitude. His style.”

Taco Land is known worldwide; legendary for live music and its unusual owner. Patrons knew Ayala as a gruff curmudgeon of a bartender – with a heart of gold. He opened his one of kind bar to everyone from the homeless to rich college kids. Everyone was welcome.

“He lived hard and he loved hard,” said Fuentes.

“I'm still in shock right now,” said Ayala's son, Mark Cruz. He can't believe his dad is gone. “My dad was kind, big-hearted. Anything that anyone needed, he would give if it would help.”

Friends describe Ram as a man who spent his entire life helping others. He gave many upstart bands their first shot on stage, and bands from across the country looked forward to the chance to play the famed Taco Land.

“Ram cared about all of his bands like they were his sons,” said Fuentes.

In 1969 when the nearby bottling plant shut down, Ram turned his taco joint into a world-renowned live music hotspot.

Jeff Smith played Taco Land in the early 90's. “Ram was a great guy,” said Smith. “He was an unusual individual. He had pretty salty language.”

“He expressed himself a lot with cuss words. I mean, he would cuss everybody out – but in a nice way,” said Frank Rodarte with a grin.

We interviewed Ram in 1999. “To me, it wasn't music at all. It was just a bunch of racket. That was the 'in' thing then,” Ram told WOAI about some of the famed punk bands that had played his bar.

In 1999 Ram was featured in a documentary by Laura Escamilla-Fouratt about Taco Land. “Not everybody can say that they had a movie about a bar - my bar - or a business they have,” Ram said proudly.

Police say Thursday night two newcomers to the bar decided to rob the place. Then shot Ram and two of his employees. Doorman Douglas Morgan, 53, and bartender Denise "Sunshine" Koger, 41, were injured in the shooting — Morgan critically.

“He was a person who helped others,” mourner Tony Sanchez told WOAI. “I don't know how anyone could do this. There's no reason for it.”

“It's very tragic,” said Cruz. “I can't believe someone could do this to him.”

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bike Ramble

Bike Ramble, originally uploaded by H. Michael karshis.

Missy sent in this tribute to Ram.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Taco Land Booths

Taco Land Booths, originally uploaded by H. Michael karshis.

Thanks to El Bart for submitting this shot of the best seats in the house.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Wah, Wah, Wah

A Boring True Taco Land Story

By Some Bay Area Pussy

Place: Tacoland
When: Sunday, April 21, 2002
Who's Playing: Sidney + Maxwell Horse
Ram Factor: Stupid Pussies

We had breakfast at Manita's for the second time, and saw Richard Linklater ("Rick" to Austinians - EJ pointed out a lot of "Slacker" sites around town) and Patricia Arquette dining there too. Afterward I had to be boring and worked in a coffeeshop for the rest of the afternoon - they played nothing but Concrete Blonde all day, which made it much more bearable. EJ and AT went to a river outside of Austin and canoed and swum - dammit, I really, really should have
left my work at home, I hate missing the opportunity to see what's outside of the cities we pop in and out of.

We stopped for yet another installment of great Mexican food - we thought we'd just get takeout and eat it on the road, but it took 30 minutes for the food, then we had to eat it while parked in the lot because there was so much of it in such big containers. Should have just sat down to eat. Duh.

Around sunset we pointed the van in the direction of home and drove an easy hour to San Antone (as immortalized in dozens of country songs - rhymes well with "alone", as in "you left me all…", a ubiquitous topic). Tacoland looks like a bomb shelter, and is located in the middle of what must be a very tolerant residential area. It has a concrete patio to match the concrete block walls, and offers absolutely no creature comforts except some battered red booths scattered around, and a single toilet which is accessible only from the patio. (When the owner informed us that, to go to the bathroom, we should just "go outside, walk around the tree, and pee", there was no doubt in my mind that we'd be urinating in the scrubby forest that bordered a creek outside. What he meant was that the door could be found hidden behind a tree that arched over the place…but I would have believed anything). Our hearts sank as we saw the lack of monitors, and it was an additional bummer to see no evidence of tacos, either.

Having spent four nights in Texas already, we believed our soundperson when he told us that people show up late, so the opener didn't start until 11. We all just hung out in the red booths, drinking our bottled water, writing in journals and listening to various tributes to Tacoland from the jukebox - at some point, someone was moved enough to put together a compilation of songs dedicated to this, um, modest venue.

The opening act was a fella named Sidney, and played a brilliant set of solo numbers with a heavy quotient of the bizarre. He broke strings on both of his acoustics so I loaned him my backup Strat - very interesting to hear one's own instrument played by someone else. I was actually glad for the opportunity to establish some semblance of rapport with him, if no one else, because the joint was populated only with a handful of what were obviously regulars, and fans of rocking-yet-sensitive indie rock they sure didn't seem to be. Sidney finished up to great applause - this is pretty much the only place he plays, he told us later, and he's kinda perfect for the environs - and I went through a nice mime routine of approaching the mic, getting a massive shock, retreating to flip a ground switch or change a plug, then repeating from step one. Finally I got the right combination to ensure my continued existence and we began the most trouble-plagued set ever. Halfway through our second tune, my sound suddently disappeared. I finished the tune acapella, switched guitars, and a few seconds into the next tune it happened again. I bypassed everything but a distortion pedal and launched into the tune again, and it held together just long enough to leave me stranded, mute and sweating, on the next tune. We took a break to try to resolve things, and after five minutes of established what I thought was a consistent sound, things died again. I finally ended up using my backup guitar straight into my second amp, my least favorite combination, all tinny and dry without any distortion whatsoever. On top of my sound problems, all the guitars were going out of tune instantly, and the glares from my bandmates indicated that they wished I'd fully electrocuted myself on the first note instead of putting them through this. All the regulars were playing pool or outside on the patio, except for Sidney and his girlfriend who had long ceased bothering to clap.

We finally called it quits and high-tailed it for an IHOP where we drowned our sorrows in well-fried breakfast specials.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Taco Tunes

Songs that feature Taco Land in some form or fashion:

Dead Milkmen, "Tacoland"
Kevin & the Black Tears, "Taco Land Shuffle"
Mitch Webb & The Swindles, "Let Her Dance"
Boxcar Satan, "Boxcardo's Hideaway"
Los #3 Dinners, "Party Animal"
Geronimo Treviño, "Macho Man From Taco Land"
Tiki Bongo, "Uh Huh, Oh Yeah"
Little Neesie, "Stop It, You're Killing Me"
Chapstik, "Hey, (expletive), Que Paso" (unreleased)
Suzy Bravo & Hammered, "Face Down, Ass Up"

Tiki Bongo

A Plate Full of Taco Land Memories

by: Jim Beal Jr. and Hector Saldaña
San Antonio Express News

Taco Land was a small bar with no shine and no sheen. But for many bands and fans, it was the biggest and best joint in the world. A week ago, in an apparent robbery, Taco Land owner Ram Ayala was shot and killed. Two employees, bartender Denise "Sunshine" Koger and doorman "Gypsy" Doug Morgan, were wounded.

Jim Beal
Musicians honor memory of Ram Ayala

Outpourings of grief, Taco Land tales and floods of memories have continued nonstop. It's unlikely Taco Land will ever reopen; without Ram there is no Taco Land. It's likely memories of Taco Land will continue to roll for decades.

"The man was a legend in this town. If there's a San Antonio rock 'n' roll hall of fame, he deserves to be right there at the entrance," said White Rabbit owner Rick Sciaraffa, noting the late-night danger that can lurk in the bar business. "He's somebody that you look at his heart and his intent. It was so pure what he was about. He didn't care about money. But he had a zero-tolerance policy with respect to anyone starting trouble."

A sampling of Taco Land memories, compiled by San Antonio Express News staff writers Jim Beal Jr. and Hector Saldaña:

Sanford Nowlin
Boxcar Satan leader and Express-News business writer lists his most memorable shows:

L7/Cat Butt (1992): Then-unknown female punk quartet L7 invaded Taco Land for a gloriously over-the-top performance that helped explain why they later went on to big things. Fire codes, liquor laws and God knows what else were broken that night.

Steel Pole Bathtub, El Santo, Boxcar Satan: Steel Pole, from San Francisco, let the feedback genie out of Ram's mystery bottle that night and held the crowd in a trance with its precision rhythm section and shimmering arcs of guitar noise. Another spectacular show that came to Taco Land thanks to the selfless efforts of legendary San Antonio punk band El Santo.

Thrall, Boxcar Satan, Two-Dollar Whore: Michigan's Thrall brought its brand of performance-art-meets-noise-rock to Taco Land with such fury, the show climaxed with audience members hanging from the rafters and figuring out ways to dive off a nonexistent stage. Singer Mike Hard wandered naked through the audience much of the night, dripping with sweat and danger.

Eugene Chadbourne/Paul Lovens: The mad scientist with the electric rake and the Fake Book that won't quit teamed up with the German avant-garde jazz drummer Lovens with stellarly warped results. At the end of the night, an inebriated Lovens declared, "In Europe the bars are nice but the owners hate the music; at Taco Land, the bar is not so nice but the owner LOVES THE MUSIC!" Pretty much summed up the Taco Land experience.

Jim Beal Jr.
Express-News arts writer and bassist with the Ear Food Orchestra lists his favorite shows:

Tex & the Horseheads: Singer Texacala Jones, clad in a torn slip and cowboy boots, started the evening chatting with every member of the crowd as if she was the hostess at a family reunion. She ended the night fronting the band while screaming like a banshee and rolling on the floor.

Eugene Chadbourne, Country Giants, Big Drag:
In '92, long before his electric rake was a thing of rock 'n' etc. legend, Chadbourne did a midweek Taco Land show that held everyone, even hard-core regulars, in thrall with a mixture of blues and outer-space experimentation. Country Dick Hays of Country Giants and the Hickoids and guitarist/singer Milton Robichaux of Big Drag, Where the Action Is and Happy Dogs were among those who helped Ram Ayala make Taco Land a music landmark. In retrospect, this was a quintessential Taco Land night.

"Frankfest 2004":
This edition of the annual memorial for the late Frank Lugo, former manager of Hogwild Records, epitomized the best elements of Taco Land by being memorial, family reunion and full-on Taco Land music night featuring an array of bands including young punks Total 13, working with the veterans of Double Clutch and Suzy Bravo & Hammered.

Bell Solloa
Former manager of the SWC Club also spent a lot of time at Taco Land and booked shows there from '99 to '01:

Fleshtones, Sons of Hercules, Where the Action Is: July 2000 show brought out all the high-energy people. We were only allowed to act like that at Taco Land. Ram was so unfazed by the changes that went on around him.

Jeff Smith
Punk rock musician and promoter:

The Minutemen (1984): There weren't too many people there, recalled Smith, who booked the concert. "They were such a great band in such an unlikely venue," he said. "They weren't so happy about (playing Taco Land) when they walked in."

Miles Zuniga, Fastball
Not every concert at Taco Land was memorable. Of course, it depended on point of view.

"We were being shocked by the microphones over and over," Zuniga told the San Antonio Express-News in April 1999, calling the booking the gig from hell. "And there was some drunk weirdo guy there (no, it wasn't owner Ram). I had to get right in his face, and he started flipping me off. He left, and I thought he was going out to his truck to get his shotgun."

Janet Lease
Longtime punk-rock fan says her favorite Taco Land concert was Sons of Hercules. "A lot of times I would hold the door open to let out the smoke," Lease recalled. "Ram never made me pay for my beer. I've been crying about it a lot. I've been going there for 20 years."


Ramiro "Ram" Ayala passed on Friday June 24, 2005. He is survived by his wife of 49 years Agnes, their children Sylvia (Alfred) Navarro, Manuel (Linda) Ayala, Ramiro (Patricia) Ayala Jr., Ernest (Leticia) Ayala and Barbara (Damien) Lopez. His sisters Nena Morillos and Gloria Quintanilla. Grandchildren, Sara and Jared Navarro, Jake, Camille, Sienna, Justin, Miranda, Jeremy and Spencer Ayala, Evan Panagua and Sibonnet and Mereya Chavez. Numerous friends and family. A Private Service was held on Sunday June 26, 2005. Per Rams request He will be cremated and no other services will be held. We would like to thank all of Rams friends from Taco Land for the outpouring of love they have shown. Dad there are no words to express how much we loved you. Manito we will miss you.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A Last Minute Announcement

From Stickpony

Hey friends - a last minute announcement here regarding soemthing you can do to help out Tacoland doorman Gypsy Doug and bartender Denise (both still hospitalized after being shot in the robbery that took the life of owner Ram Ayala).

A benefit is being held to help them offset their medical bills at The Sanctuary (1812-18 Main St., San Antonio, TX 78212) this Sunday. The entire lineup of the scheduled Tacoland show, including Stickpony, has been moved to this event.

The details are still being worked out, but we've been told we're to play in the evening sometime. As it sounds like this is going to be an all day kind of thing, you can probably show up anytime. If you want specifics, call The Sanctuary at 210-732-0313.

For those in Austin and Houston, I know it's kind of a haul, but there is
literally no better cause I can think of - Gypsy Doug and Denise need your
help, so do what you can. Have a safe and enjoyable 4th weekend - we'll look for you in the river city.