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Peter Santillano Rises Out of the Ashes
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combo that specialized on polkas, boleros and rancheras.
Three years later he joined the U.S. Army and served in Viet Nam. After military tours all over the West Pacific and Germany, he got stationed in Alaska and Lawton, Oklahoma where he and a few GI buddies performed at Raymond’s Bar.
From 1971 to 1998, Santillano went to college, worked for Gary Aircraft Corp., got married, fathered a daughter, Trevyln Odette, did a 15-year stint as a barber, got divorced, went into landscaping and became an advocate for several causes including a movement to save the Alameda Theater when the owners threated to raze the historical landmark in order to build a parking lot.
Then the Hondo-native leased the Valle Hermosa, cleaned it up, painted it and changed the venue’s name to the Crockett Bar. René García’s newly formed Five-Star Band – which consisted of Ralph Sáenz, guitar; Roy Paniagua, bass; Donald Garza, trumpet; Frank Pérez, trumpet; García, trombone; and Richard Solís, drums -- became the house band. 
“There were no saxes, except those that came and sat in with the band. They also didn’t do any Spanish-language tunes and that’s when I started singing again. This is also where Little Joe, Sunny and the Sunliners, Shelly Lares and Fama would rehearse so it became a very popular bar,” Santillano said.
“All that came to an end when in 2006, the owner raised my rent and I had no choice, but to close, otherwise I would still be doing very well.”
After five years of retirement, Santillano got serious and enlisted the crème de la crème and two childhood friends to produce a labor of love called “Vejes de Oro” (“Golden Oldies”), a collection of ten vintage tunes starting with Cuco Sánchez’s “Viejo El Viento ( y todavia sopla)” (“Old is the wind, yet it still blows”) to “No Tienes Perdon,” previously recorded by Johnny Canales.
The first cut has deep connotation al lyrics such as “Soy como llave que cualquier chapa se acopla,” which translates to “I am like a master key that can open any locked hole.”
Other standards include “Me Piden,” “Eres Casada,” “La Palma,” “La Malcornadora,” “Con Cartitas,” “Por Una Mujer Casada” and “Ya No Llores.”
“Some are classic conjunto tunes with lots of brass, but it’s not Latin Breed. So I would be me, I gave Frank Pérez an idea of what I wanted – to transpose conjunto to orchestra. He took that 


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