Show Review: Jaime Wyatt Brings Style to Helotes Outside San Antonio

Show Reviews

It’s a bitter cold night on the banks of Los Reyes Creek. There’s hardly a street light to guide me down Old Bandera Road northwest of San Antonio.

A spotlight shines on a freshly hand-painted sign declaring the “world’s best home-made tamales,” a bold claim likely to cause a riot in these parts.

 

IMG_2593.jpgAdvertising in front of John T. Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, Texas. Photo by Andrew Blanton

John T. Floore’s Country Store sits on the edge of historic old-town Helotes. Just under 10,000 people populate the ranches in Bexar County, once a prairie outpost for revolutionists battling Santa Anna’s forces toward the Rio Grande. Comanches and Apaches have been traced back thousands of years in the area.

Floore cut the ribbon on his famous dance hall in 1942, bringing top acts like Ernest Tubb from Fort Worth and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Willie Nelson used to perform every Saturday night, warming up his act to become one of the most successful country music stars of a generation.

A souvenir penny machine sits in the corner, like an outpost museum or state park gimmick. I reminisce of old childhood camping trips as I watch the metal gears turn, pulverizing a copper disc into an oval stamped with cowboy boots.IMG_2594.jpg  

 

A Souvenir Penny Machine at John T. Floore’s Country Store. Photo by Andrew Blanton

The crowd is bustling as hundreds of couples chatter underneath forgotten leather boots and straw hats dangling from the rafters, items allegedly left behind by dizzy patrons throughout the years.

Jaime Wyatt is a perfect fit as she struts out onto the barricaded stage. Her vintage red polyester western suit and checkered pearl snap easily makes her the sharpest dressed person in the room. A tan suede cowboy hat rests atop her long brown hair, matching her Fender acoustic parlor guitar. IMG_2623

 

Jaime Wyatt Performs at John T. Floore’s Country Store. Photo by Andrew Blanton

“I’m so glad that country has had a resurgence, and even everyone dressing like Urban Cowboy that it’s hip now,” Wyatt said. “My mom is a seamstress and we’ve always been into vintage clothes since we were little. Suits are powerful, and for me it’s part of the show.”

For the past year and a half Wyatt has been promoting her album Felony Blues. The theme follows an eight month stint in a Los Angeles County jail.

“The L.A. County jail is not a nice jail at all,” Wyatt said. “It’s actually really rough, and where I was housed was pretty gnarly.”IMG_2656.jpg

 

Jaime Wyatt Performs at John T. Floore’s Country Store. Photo by Andrew Blanton

From bee-bop jazz artists in the 1950’s, to grunge artists in the 1990’s, addiction has taken hold of hundreds of musicians. An altercation with a drug dealer in Santa Monica found Wyatt fighting a prison sentence in her early twenties.

“It shaped my life. It made me be both want to quit doing music, but also realize I had nothing else going for me,” Wyatt said. “I’ve not been able to get a straight job my whole life since.”

Many convicted felons face a difficult road for a variety of reasons. Government restrictions on many industries make it impossible for employers to hire applicants with a criminal record, and housing discrimination makes it incredibly difficult for those without family support.

“A lot of people don’t have that, and they go back into the life because there’s no other opportunity,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt takes off her jacket and slings it over a nearby microphone stand, rolls up her sleeves and takes the mic to serenade the crowd. Her voice is incredibly powerful, taking influence from vintage country and soul. 

Jaime Wyatt Performs at John T. Floore’s Country Store. Photo by Andrew Blanton

The electric guitar is wailing, cutting through the chatter with classic Telecaster twang. His thumb pick technique keeps every song on track throughout the hour long set. Trouble when it needs to be, rhythmic and soulful in the quiet moments.

“I’m wishing on a wishin’ well, I can hear the mission bells,” Wyatt sings. Fitting for a city only a stone’s throw from the Alamo. With the ground work she’s put in, Wyatt won’t be wishing for long.

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