For some 39 years, RAMIRO "RAM" AYALA owned & operated a colorful neighborhood bar on the north end of downtown San Antonio. For the last 20+ years of itís run, that bar, TACO LAND, would become the hub of a fiery hot & fiercely independent underground music scene, with Ayala himself being looked upon as the "Godfather" of this vital scene. Over those years, Taco Land would play host, proving ground, and home base to virtually every South Texas band & musician of any significance, as well as being a San Anto tour stop for national acts on-the-rise like Southern Culture On The Skids, Gwar, L7, The Fleshtones, and too many more to list. To all who were fortunate enough to experience this defining period in San Antonioís music history, Taco Landís walls were hallowed, and Ram Ayala himself, a beloved & iconic symbol of what could be accomplished with a potent blend of music, soul, and attitude!
Tragically, in the early morning hours of June 24th, 2005, while most of the city was celebrating another Spurs NBA Championship, it was not fireworks, but gunfire that would shatter the collective world of Taco Landís extended musical "family". Armed assailants intent on robbery would shoot & kill Ram Ayala and doorman Doug Morgan, and critically wound bartender Denise Koger (who thankfully survived her injuries). In one brief instance, a night of celebration became a night of infamy, shock, and sadness. Some might have been content to consider this terrible event the end of the Taco Land era, but it would have been even more tragic to close the book on everything that the "House of Ram" built & stood for all those years....
Though any night that one walked through the doors of Taco Land held the potential for a party, there was always one weekend in particular that absolutely guaranteed puro party punch.... Those were Ramís Birthday Weekends, which rolled around the second week of April each year. When the time for Ramís birthday approached in 2006, myself (Jerry Clayworth) & Saustex Mediaís Jeff Smith knew that the best way that we could honor & celebrate our friend, as well as keep the spirit of Taco Land alive & well, was to continue the yearly bash.... I once jokingly asked Ram why so many bands vied to play his birthdays, to which he replied "Everybody wants to jam with the Ram"! So, it only seemed appropriate that we call this annual celebration the "RAM JAM".
The 2008 Ram Jam marked the third annual gathering of the Taco Land faithful, and every year along the way has attracted plenty of new attendees as well, who are just discovering the soul & spirit that was plentiful within the walls of our little West Grayson oasis. Putting together the Ram Jam every year has become a welcome duty of sorts... and a "Thank You". Ram Ayala put all of himself into Taco Land, and was the heart of what, over his bar's 39 years, grew into the biggest, craziest, most wonderful extended family the world has ever seen.
Sadly, there will never be another Ram Ayala, or another Taco Land. There will however, be more celebrations.... Watch for the Fourth Annual RAM JAM in 2009!