San Antonio’s Hogwild Records celebrates 40th anniversary

This year, Hogwild Records, the old-school record store off Main Street and Dewey, quietly celebrated its 40th anniversary on March 1. It is one of the oldest standing records stores in San Antonio, and a lot can happen in four decades. The shop has weathered the heavy metal and punk scenes of the early 1980’s, a high-profile court case, the transition to CD’s and MP3’s, a global pandemic, and the hipster-era record store Renaissance (which has since invited vinyl back into the mainstream).

Miraculously, the inky purple building near San Antonio College is still going strong. Looking for an album or band T-shirt? Allow the grimacing hog logo to be your north star.

With the help of friends, 20-something-year-old Dave Risher first opened the store in 1982. A music enthusiast, Risher has seen the shop through every thinkable transition and still oversees operations today.

Longtime manager Steven Alejandro has been clocking in at the record store on-and-off since the 1980s. At 17, he joined the team a few years after the store’s opening. Risher and the other staff members, who were heavily involved in the local music scene, took Alejandro under their wings. Soon after, Alejandro began going to local shows. This includes Dead Kennedy’s defunct Villa Fontana and a Black Flag gig at a former amateur wrestling hangout on Blanco Street.

Try to find it now and you’ll only encounter an antique store, he tells me on a cloudy Thursday morning at the shop.

Hogwild Records at 40.

Camille Sauers / MySA

We talk about the San Antonio music scene, how it’s changing with the new outcrop of high-dollar venues and how it’s historically different than Austin’s. Alejandro affectionately touches on San Antonio’s working class spirit as a defining difference. This is not only a possible explanation for the city having a smaller scene than its neighbor to the north, “nobody has money to go to shows three nights a week,” he theorizes, but also why certain musical genres caught fire locally over the years .

Hogwild has always sold records from a variety of genres. All through the ’70s and the shop’s early days, punk rock and heavy metal were huge. At that time, the city sort of had a reputation for being the “Heavy Metal Capital of the World” due to the genre’s wild local popularity. This is canonically attributed to KMAC DJ Joe Anthony’s heavy radio play of Canadian metal bands.

“If you read interviews with a lot of these bands, like, ‘why did you start a band?’ It’s like ‘Well, it was either this or work in the factory,’ and that was San Antonio. You know, it’s either this or work on the River Walk in a restaurant, “Alejandro says.

Across the store hangs a poster of acclaimed San Antonio-based Conjunto musician Santiago Jimenez playing his signature squeeze box. The yellowing paper and younger face tells me it was printed in the late ’90s at least. I remark how surprising it is that the now 80-year-old Jimenez still seems to be booked and busy, playing shows seemingly every weekend. Internally, I recall a time he kindly bought me a beer at one of his shows.

“He’s a musician, but it’s still like a level of working class musician,” Alejandro says of Jimenez. “He’s got the work ethic. I think that’s part of, you know, longevity is just having a work ethic, right. He’s not going to give up, you know, he’s not going to take it easy.”

Signed poster of local musician Santiago Jimenez at Hogwild Records.

Signed poster of local musician Santiago Jimenez at Hogwild Records.

Camille Sauers / MySA

The same could be said of Hogwild itself, enduring multiple different shifts in the ways we consume music. Risher has navigated this by knowing when to expand inventory to collectors items and merchandise, Alejandro shares. In its 40-year tenure, the most precarious times for the shop was 2008 (in the post CD MP3 heyday right before the vinyl revival) and in 1990, when Risher was arrested.

The record vendor was and sent to court for insisting on selling the notoriously explicit album As Nasty as They Wanna Be by Florida rap group The 2 Live Crew. The album got swept up as a scapegoat during a particularly puritanical political wave happening across the country at the time.

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