Tony Colunga, owner of NASA, formerly known as Studio B, threw a last hurrah to announce his departure from owner status.
Colunga passes the torch to his protégé and former DMC student, Joshua Miguel De Leon, who majored in Sound Recording Technology.
“I met Josh playing a show on the sidewalk downtown. He was playing bass with The Blind Owls covering a Led Zeppelin song … They were rocking out! They messaged me on MySpace about playing at our venue,” Colunga said.
Colunga’s plan for Studio B was to not only keep it low-key but also to book ‘strange original music’ that other venues wouldn’t book. He was looking to stand out from the norm.
Originally Colunga did not want De Leon to perform because he was against cover bands playing at his venue. Alas, he took a chance and booked their first show at Studio B.
De Leon made more appearances at NASA.
Colunga took notice of how “calm” he would appear under pressure.
“I like his demeanor and kindness with others. I think it rubs off and keeps the peace and produces a nice atmosphere with others,” said Colunga.
As time progressed De Leon would watch Colunga work the sounds for the bands, fix faulty equipment, buy new equipment, make sure the bands were happy and their sound was good.
“He used to do it all, which is why I reached out about running sound for him,” said De Leon.
The question of whether De Leon wanted to take over NASA came up while both Colunga and De Leon were assisting one another.
Colunga asked De Leon if he’d be interested in taking over the legacy that is NASA.
Without a second thought, De Leon accepted and sealed the deal with the price of a handshake.
“Josh is taking over completely. I gave him all the sound gear and lights to continue shows. It’s all for the love of live music and our community that we have built for years,” said Colunga.
HISTORY OF NASA
In 2008 Colunga was looking for a space to jam for his previous band Denim Hares.
Over time Studio B started becoming well known in the local community.
“It was first named Studio B because that’s the unit we are in. I changed the name ‘cause I felt like it was getting too well known and I always wanted to keep it a secret with an underground feel,” said Colunga.
The coming-of-age drama film “Kids” branded Colunga’s memory in a scene where the characters in the movie mentions going to a club called NASA.
It was then, the name NASA was born.
COLUNGA’S LAST HURRAH
With the announcement of Colunga’s departure and De Leon taking over, friends of friends began to spread the word of Colunga’s ‘last hurrah’ as owner.
NASA invited four bands perform, on his behalf, with a small cover charge for the special event, Highest Control, The Blind Owls, Dayeater, and Brindis.
Jesse Lee, guitarist from Dayeater, heard about Tony’s departure as owner.
“Carlos Garcia, from the Brindis and Blind Owls, invited us and told us it was Tony’s last hurrah. It’s good to see that it’s still going, and people are breathing life into this, it’s nice,” says Lee.
According to Garcia, the location of NASA is his stomping ground. NASA has kept the things going with all that is involved, musically. As small towns are, NASA is its own tribe.
Martin Riojas Jr, guitarist for Highest Control, heard from Blind Owls about Tony stepping down.
“Tony was always the legend, the O.G. NASA is the ‘weird jam’ of Corpus. This is the 13th floor Hotel Vegas of Corpus,” said Riojas.
Much of the attendees were of a wide variety of ages and styles from its locals to out of town visitors.
Robyn Valentine, social media manager and drag entertainer, attended the event in support of Tony’s last hurrah.
“This is the era of Tony were saying goodbye to. I’m here to support Tony because he supported me when no one else would,” said Valentine.
Valentine got their first shot in the spotlight with NASA in 2019 with an event called “Flesh and Blush.”
“Where no one else would promote, Tony would. Tony accepted me,” said Valentine.
Seleste Pena, patron of the music scene, heard about the event from a friend.
“Everyone has been welcoming. Everyone is having conversations all around you,” said Pena.
Another frequent visitor, Jennifer Asch, mentioned how the vibe is all around friendly and felt that with Josh taking over was a perfect choice.
“I have been coming to NASA for 10 years. The vibe is very welcoming. It’s got a community feel to it. I think Josh is a perfect choice. He’s played so many shows here. He’s a big part of the community, may not see much of a change with NASA,” said Asch.
When asked if he plans to make any new updates or changes, De Leon responded modestly,
“The thing I want to work on the most is not to change a thing. This has the potential of being more or something else … at its core, people who have been coming to NASA for years feel safe here. I want to keep that vibe,” said De Leon.
Valentine has this to say about what NASA should always stand for:
“NASA is a celebration of the underground scene, the weirdos, the people who don’t feel they don’t belong. All of us who found a home to belong to.”