St. Jubilee was formed in the Spring of 1996 with the orginal members Bryan Contreras, Manny Flores and Jim Sollazzo. The trio quickly bonded and took their work to Bryan/College Station, Texas trying out their new two new tunes. The crowd and the bar owners loved them, and asked for more....
St. Jubilee stayed busy playing in and around Houston for the next three years (1996-1999) and picked up new members in the band, Brad Harper (Guitiar) and Will Minix (Saxophone). The sound of the band was taking on new forms weekly given all the infleunces that the guys brought to the sessions in the studio. The venues that served the folks that the band targeted in their stories often times attempted to call St. Jubilee blues or southern rock, but anyone that has heard the band live knows that this is not the best way to capture the sound....they can be blues and southern rock, but are much more. A key point in the band's history was the weekly gigs that they inherited at Rudyard's Pub. Every Monday between 9-2 am the boys were able to get up on stage and build on what they were cooking up in the studio and also continue what they left incomplete the previous Monday at Rudyard's. Those six months in the spring/summer of 1998 proved to be super important and the band's stage dynamics......the songs that they were writing throughout this stage of the band's work would later become their first full length album, Vagabond Mestizos.
In late 1998, Will Minix and Brad Harper formed a new project that left St. Jubilee a three piece once again. Bryan, Manny and Jim moved forward for the next year working the same show and shaping the songs into a manner they could play them with half their band gone. In 1999, Jim broke the news to St. Jubilee that he would be leaving Texas for work.....St. Jubilee needed to think about next steps.
Bryan and Manny started the search for a new band.....Bryan continued to write the stories and Manny remained true to those ideas by contributing his thoghts on tempo and arrangements. In late 1999, Bryan saw the last Sunset Heights show in Houston....his cousin Jason Youngblood was one of the founding members of Sunset Heights. Sunset Heights hit a stretch of tough luck and the members of the band did not want to continue the project. Frustrated with being on the road and not really able to express himself through the new music, Jason needed a change. Bryan and Jason talked at the Satellite Lounge in between the sets that night and Jason was extremely excited about the opportunity to play in St. Jubilee. Three months later Bryan, Manny and Jason would form the new iteration of the band that has remained core to the sound for the past 13 years.
They started rehearsals and mapping out shows across Houston, but needed a fourth member to truly convey the honest sounds that they were building in the studios. Jason reached out to the network of musicians that he had shared the stage during his touring days with Sunset Heights and quickly landed the next member of the band.....Marc Turner (lead guitar). Marc was a true blues guitarist at heart that understood St. Jubilee need a sound built around set arrangements/ attractive riffs. He and Bryan also agreed on the purpose of the stories- they were trying to tell the story of the weary Texans that all had a hard life.
Bryan Contreras, Manny Flores, Jason Youngblood, and Marc Turner would be the core of St. Jubilee that would write and record the album Vagabond Mestizos in March of 2001 at the Pedernales Studios in Austin, Texas. The album was produced by Greg Hampton and engineered by Larry Greenhill. Steve Werbelow (Asylum Sound Studio) in Canoga Park, California mixed the album during these sessions. The team combined St. Jubilee's fresh songwriting with veteran rock musicians Bill Payne and Carmine Appice to produce something new and exciting. The CD contains twelve original songs, and the music has a Americana pop sound that tells the story of the old south with danceable Latin rhythms and searing Texas guitar. The rich cultural history of Texas and the struggles of its people are illustrated through St. Jubilee's music.
The band's musical influences:
Manny Flores cut his teeth playing an upright bass and listening to the jazz greats....he is a drummer that brings the jazz swing to our Texas sound. Manny's timing is perfect for St. Jubilee and he sets the pace for the dynamics of the crushing rhythms that come from this band. If you like the lost bands of the 80's...it will remind you of the college album charts that we miss so much..
Jason Youngblood is a hard rocker by trade that converted to an amazing bassist for the great Texas blues trio Sunset Heights.....he can hold the rhythm with the best of them and never backs away from the magical arrangements of St. Jubilee. He brings the style to the stage that only a bassist can.....that is why we call him "Big Daddy"
Bryan Contreras is stuck in a song that the great Neil Young wrote and can't find his way out....he is all about stories and breathes life into the lyrics of St. Jubilee..lucky for him he still plays on the same Telecaster that his original band mates bought for him. (Thanks Jimbo, Manny, Brad and Will..and of course his beautiful wife Veronica)