Pep Up Your Holiday Playlist with 8 South Texas Christmas Songs That Don’t Suck

Courtesy of the Texas Tornados
It sure drains the life out of any holiday get together when the soundtrack is populated by the same old well-tread Christmas classics. With that in mind, here’s a double handful of yuletide tunes from South Texas artists to liven up your playlist.

Of course, technology makes it possible to load any and all of these onto a digital playlist, but why not support the musicians by shelling out for some vinyl? You’ll have fun playing DJ for family and friends, and you’ll rest easy knowing you compensated someone for their art.

The Krayolas — “Christmas With My Dad”
Nostalgic without being sappy, San Antonio’s Saldaña brothers’ recently released single celebrates family with British Invasion-style hooks and harmonies plus a little Tex-Mex stirred in for good measure. Anyone who’s missing a relative around the holidays an relate to this one.

Girl in a Coma — “Blue Christmas”
This track by the defunct SA punk band led off the 2009 Christmas comp by Joan Jett’s Blackheart records — and with good reason. After starting out with a melancholy country feel, it builds into a fun rocker propelled by a snappy rhythm section and Nina Diaz’s distinctive vocals.

Sunny and the Sunliners — “I Want to Come Home for Christmas”
Even though this classic side by one of the deans of San Antonio’s Westside Sound clocks in at under two minutes, Sunny Ozuna’s sweet voice drips soul for every second. A great one to savor with your second Christmas-morning bloody Mary in hand.

Steve Earle — “Christmas in Washington”
San Antonio-raised Steve Earle no longer calls Texas home, but his “Christmas in Washington” deserves a place on this list for the power of its message — a timely lament about the sad and soulless state of our democracy. Plus, how can you not love a song with a refrain of “Come back, Woody Guthrie.”

Patsy Torres — “San Antonio Christmas”
Sure, the repeated callouts to San Antonio landmarks make this one a little chamber-of-commerce-y, but Tejano giant Torres’ jazzy remake of “Home for the Holidays” is a perfect showcase for the versatility of her voice.

Texas Tornados — “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
Once you hear the opening line “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, and Panchito and Juanito and Lupito and Flaquito,” you know your stocking is about to overflow with puro party. The combination of Augie’s box organ and Flaco’s accordion will have anyone dancing around the Christmas tree.

Jim Cullum Jazz Band — “We Three Kings”
This classic carol adapts well to a swinging arrangement, and it’s seldom possessed more authentic swing than it does on the late jazz purist’s Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule collection. By the time the whole band kicks in on the “star of wonder” part, you’ve got a Dixieland hop spinning on the turntable, daddy-o.

Hickoids — “We’ve Got the Eggnog if You’ve Got the Whiskey”
If the above selections just don’t bring enough weird to the party, this low-fi nugget should do the trick. The venerable San Antonio-Austin cowpunk ensemble recalls the time Ol’ Pappy pulled off his peg leg and decorated it like a Christmas tree to teach the young ’uns a lesson about the season. Yee-haw!

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