San Antonio real estate magnate Abe Epstein took an omnivorous approach to recording and releasing records on his Cobra, Jox, Dynamic
, Soulsville USA, Suzuki, Vollado, Groovy, Beckingham, and Metro-Dome labels. Tape was running constantly at his 735 North General McMullen Drive studio, capturing Latin balladeers, soul crooners, country yodelers, garage rockers, and top 40 hopefuls alike. Epstein was chasing, above all else, hits. “Recording became like a disease to me,” Epstein said.
Claire Peralta, Sylvia Wilburn, Cecilia Silva came together in 1961 as the Royaltones in the choir room of South San Antonio High, harmonizing the latest hits while waiting for their parents to collect them. After changing their name to the Dreamliners—inspired by the San Antonio transit system—they began performing at VFW Halls and military bases in greater Bexar County, singing a set of McGuire Sisters-esque ditties for the ranking folks, and the Sound of Young America for the NFG privates. Epstein caught wind of the group in 1963 and signed them without hesitation. A split single with the Velvedeers appeared on Cobra later that year, featuring Wilburn’s original “Just You and Me” as the A-side. The 45 failed to find a footing locally, a by-product of his bloated release schedule and overshadowing by the duo that put Epstein and his ragtag group of labels on the map and in the black.
René Ornealas and René Herrera stormed out of Laredo and onto the national scene with their Spanish-English hybrid smash “Angelito,” issued on Jox in mid-1964. Flush with cash from his first, and arguably only hit artist, Epstein kept the studio open around the clock, recording artists from all over Texas at all hours of the night. The Dreamliners were called back for a series of follow ups, including a turn adding “yeah yeahs” and “ahhhhs” to Rene y Rene’s 1965 take on the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.” Two other Jox-labeled Dreamliners 45s emerged that year, “From One Fool To Another” b/w “Best Things In Life” and “A Shoulder To Cry On” b/w “The Lonely Fool.” The trio spent the next three years on and off the road, culminating in a residency at The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas backing brown-eyed soul masters Sunny & the Sunliners. The Dreamliners splintered in 1968, with Peralta and Silva choosing motherhood and Wilburn plying her craft in the jingle trade.