Music and Comedy Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns
EPCC Fall Music Showcases — El Paso Community College hosts its student showcases at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4-5 at the Transmountain Theater, 6675 N. Desert. Admission: $3; available at the door. Information: 877-1700.
Thursday’s showcase features EPCC’s Guitar Ensemble and Jazz Combos, and Friday’s showcase feature Mariachi Real de El Paso, EPCC’s Chorus, Band and Orchestra.
Howling Coyote Coffeehouse — The open mic event is 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at Center for Spiritual Living, 575 N. Main, on Las Cruces Downtown Main Street. Signup begins at 6:30 p.m. This community event (with its stage, lighting, and sound system run by professional sound guy Skip Connelley) is on the First Fridays of the month. Information: Bob Burns, (575) 525-9333 or email@example.com.
The “Howling Coyote” is open to acoustic musicians, poets, storytellers, and singer/songwriters, and is free and open to the public for material that is family-friendly. Coffee, soft drinks and snacks available.
Lita Ford — The former lead guitarist for The Runaways performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, 125 S. Pueblo Rd. Live music nightly. The rock musician, vocalist and songwriter was a member of the famous all-female band in the late 1970s. Her solo career began in the 1980s, and included hits such as “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever.” She will perform with guests Stephen Pearcy and L.A. Guns. Admission is free. Information: 860-7777 or speakingrockentertainment.com.
The center hosts live music nightly, with tribute bands of various genres each Thursday. Age 18 and older welcome.
A Big Band Christmas Concert — Jazz Unlimited Big Band, with vocalist Jachin Ford, hosts its 10th annual holiday concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 5005 Love Road. Admission is free, donations welcome. Information: 637-4569.
Sarah Aroeste In Concert — The Anusim Center of El Paso and Congregation B’nai Zion present the “Sephardic Songstress” 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, at Congregation B’nai Zion, 805 Cherry Hill Lane. With roots in Spain and Macedonia, American-born Aroeste reinvents Ladino and Sephardic music for a new audience, combining traditional Sephardic music with contemporary influences such as rock, jazz, and blues. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Information: 203-0020 or anusimcenterep.org.
Aroeste writes and sings in Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish dialect spoken by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Those who left Spain, including Aroeste’s family, carried the medieval language with them to the various points where they later settled. In time, Ladino came to absorb many languages including Greek, Turkish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Hebrew, and Arabic. Trained in classical opera, Aroeste became drawn to her Sephardic musical past after spending the summer of 1997 performing at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv.
‘Every Other Tuesday’ — Doña Ana Arts Council hosts a variety of musical performances 6:30 p.m. every other Tuesday at the historic Rio Grande Theatre, 211 Downtown Mall, Las Cruces. Admission is free. Information: (575) 523-6403 or riograndetheatre.com.
• Dec. 9: Preview of Doña Ana Lyric Opera’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”
• Dec. 23: Singer/songwriter Sage Gentle-Wind, original jazz, blues, Americana, story-driven songs and “hot guitar.”
Steve Smith Trio — The bluegrass musicians perform with at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. Ticket information: (575) 523-1223.
Smith will also perform his annual house concert event with Trish Cutler at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, as part of the High Desert House Concerts series. Information, reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org.
La Tierra Cafe Dinner Shows — The restaurant, 1731 Montana, offers a three-course meal followed by performance. Call for time and ticket information: 533-8890 or on Facebook at latierracafe.
• Dec. 13: Yolanda, Latin, country and drums
• Dec. 20: Elvis tribute artist Bud Sanders, Christmas show.
Mariachi Fuego del Sol and Alamogordo Ballet Folklorico — The bilingual holiday program is 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21, at the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts, 1110 New York Ave., Alamogordo. Artistic director is Lina Guzman. Tickets are $15; a portion of the proceeds benefit the Alamogordo Downtown Lions Club charities. Sponsored by Twice Blessed Thrift Store and Si Senor Restaurant. Information: (575) 437-2202 or flickingercenter.com.
Music Under Stars/Dancing in City applications — The City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department is taking applications from local bands and musicians through Dec. 18 for the 2015 seasons of Music Under the Stars at the Chamizal National Memorial and Dancing in the City at Arts Festival Plaza. Information: 212-1777.
Guidelines and application form may be downloaded at elpasoartsandculture.org. Incomplete and/or late applications will not be considered. Applications can be submitted to MCADEvents@elpasotexas.gov. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.
The 32nd Music Under The Stars runs Sundays June through August, with a patriotic concert Thursday, July 4.
The 6th annual Dancing in the City is an outdoor dance concert series takes place Saturdays in June and July. The event offers attendees a live dance lesson taught by professional dancers, one hour prior to the live music performance. Local and touring musical talent are invited to apply.
Sunland Park Racetrack live music — Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, 1200 Futurity Drive, hosts free music on selected weekends. Age 21 and older admitted. Information: sunland-park.com. Brittany Bexton performs Dec. 5-6.
Socorro Entertainment Center — Speaking Rock’s indoor concert venue is at 11200 Santos Sanchez (off Socorro Road, 4.5 miles southeast of Loop 375). Doors usually open at 6 p.m. Socorro Entertainment Center events are all ages; although under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is free ($10 17 and younger) unless otherwise listed. Tribute bands play each Thursday at 8 p.m. Information: 860-7777 or speakingrockentertainment.com.
• Conjunto Primavera is 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19.
• The New Year’s Eve Party with musical guest Kumbia King All Stars is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31.
Kings X Blues Jam — Blackjack and Full Circle hosts free blues-only jams 8 p.m. to midnight the first and third Wednesday of the month at Kings X, 4119 N. Mesa. Bring a guitar and small amp; drums, bass amp and PA provided. Admission is free. Information: 544-4795.
Ardovino’s Live Music — Ardovino’s Desert Crossing, One Ardovino Dr. in Sunland Park, hosts live music at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Information: (575) 589-0653.
Iron Horse Saloon jam sessions - 4930 Hondo Pass.
• BBQ Blues Band hosts free open blues jam sessions 7 to 10 p.m. every Thursday. Musicians should bring their own amps and musical instruments; PA provided. Information: 244-0758 or on Facebook at bbqblues.
• Full Circle and Blackjack hosts free jam sessions 8 to 11:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. All styles of music welcome. Small amp, bass amp and drums PA provided. Information: 751-6064 or on Facebook at Full Circle El Paso Texas.
Alfresco! Fridays applications – El Paso Live’s applications for the 2015 Alfresco! Fridays season will be accepted at alfrescofridays.com throughout December. The concert series takes place on Friday evenings in Downtown El Paso on Convention Center Plaza during the summer months. Patrons enjoy an informal opportunity to enjoy the best regional talent, featuring dozens of musical genres including Salsa, Cumbia, Reggae, Country, Rockabilly, Ska, Classic Rock, Blues, Pop, Funk and more. Information; 534-0609.
Railroad Blues — 504 W. Holland, Alpine, Texas. Most performances begin at 9 p.m. Admission varies Information: (432) 837-3103 or railroadblues.com.
part of Alpine’s Artwalk Weekend
• Friday, Dec. 5: Sol Track Mind
• Saturday, Dec. 6: Statesboro Revue.
• Wednesday, Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve party featuring The Shades
• Saturday, Jan. 17: Kevin Seale Band
• Saturday, Jan. 24: Drugstore Gypsies
• Friday, Feb. 6: No Dry Country
• Saturday, Feb. 7: Koltron Moore and the Clever Few.
Padre’s Marfa — 209 W. El Paso Street in Marfa, Texas. Admission is free, unless otherwise listed. Information/show times: 432-729-4425 or padresmarfa.com
Folk Fury — KTEP, 88.5 FM, features three hours of acoustic and folk music — with an emphasis on recordings by local musicians and occasional live appearances by them — from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturdays. Hosts are Dan Alloway and Gregg Carthy. Requests: 747-5153.
Mariachi Paso del Norte — The mariachi specializing in “Musica, Cultura y Tradicion” performs 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays at Rosa’s Cantina, 3454 Doniphan. Information: 777-0047.
El Paso Comic Strip — 1201 Airway. Shows are at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8:30 and 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $6 Wednesday and Thursday, $12 Friday and Saturday, $8 Sunday, unless listed otherwise; available at ticketweb.com. Closed Dec. 24-25. Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233) or laff2nite.com.
• Nov. 28-30: The Greg Wilson, with Jason Resler.
• Dec. 4-6: Carlos Mencia. Tickets: $27.05 Thursday; $32.50 Friday/Saturday early show; $22.50 Friday/Saturday late show.
• Dec. 10-14: David Garcia with co-headliner to be announced.
• Dec. 17-21: Willie Barcena
• Dec. 26-28: Elliott Threatt.
The 28th annual New Year’s Eve Party and Show is Wednesday, Dec. 31. Details to be announced.
Comedy Night at The Red Room — Refried Comedy EP host free standup comics 8:30 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday, at the Red Room Bar, 317 E Mills, with comics from El Paso and Las Cruces. Information: 532-0466 or on Facebook at RefriedElPaso.
Recently added to the El Paso playlist:
“Feel Your Love,” (Beyond Creativity). music video by Ellen M. Wilson. After the global success of vocalist Ellen Wilson’s 2012 album, “Destiny,” Wilson and her band’s live performances were supported by a CAP Grant from MCAD and TCA. She recently moved from El Paso due to a PCS (permanent change of station) move, but she and her producer/keyboardist T.J. Brown begin working on a second album when they came up with a new idea for an electronic pop single and music video. The song, “Feel Your Love,” is about “love across the miles” specifically geared toward military couples separated by wartime. Brown served as director, producer and editor for the project, as well as lending his voice to the song.
Wilson, a military spouse, knows what it is like for a wife enduring separation from her husband during deployments.
The video’s lead is played by Darrin Domko, a retired 1st Sgt.
Whether or not listener come from a military background, it will be hard to make it through this video without both tearing up and feeling appreciation for not only the sacrifices of the those in the military, but of their families as well. Like Wilson’s past video, it also highlights the beauty of the El Paso landscape, but also places Fort Bliss in the spotlight.
The song itself features Wilson’s signature jazzy, pop sound recognizable to fans of her past work.
A video and single release party is 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss, with video showing at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. and a live performance by Wilson.
“Feel You Love” is available on iTunes and Amazon.
Lisa Kay Tate
“Variations” by Peter Kolar A product of the Midwest, Peter Kolar has an impressive background in sacred music that includes both a career with a leading publisher of Catholic music and service as church music director and liturgical consultant. Kolar, who moved to El Paso in 2005 after marrying a native of the city, is also director of the El Paso Diocesan Choir.
His new CD “Variations” showcases his own performing skills as a pianist, arranger of classic hymns and his own original works.
Much of the music will be familiar to many lovers of classical and sacred music, but each track offers Kolar’s own stylings and arrangements. For example, his “Variations on Hymn to Joy” starts off with a very deliberate, somber recital of the classic choral finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, then moves into different moods and styles.
Nearly all the CD features Kolar as solo pianist, his original composition of “Piece in A Major for Piano and Three Woodwinds” serves as a counterpoint for the rest of the album, not only because of the other instruments but also for its lighter tone.
Kolar, who moved to El Paso in 2005 after marrying a native of the city, recorded the CD in collaboration with local music producer and jazz musician Billy Townes. For more information on the CD, go to wlpmusic.com. It’s also available through iTunes and amazon.com.
“Destiny,” Ellen Wilson El Paso vocalist/songwriter Ellen Wilson’s newest offering is another example of her ability to mesh segments of faith and inspiration with clean, clear vocals and flowing melody.
More pop/rock-infused than her earlier disc, “Songs of Ascent,” Wilson’s sound is still very familiar.
The album starts out strong with the world-uniting invitation, “Someday,” and it continues to flow smoothly throughout. A standout for me was “For You,” featuring a rock anthem-inspired intro and motivating rhythm. These two selections alone are worth giving the CD a listen, but that’s not to say Wilson doesn’t deliver a satisfying musical experience altogether. This is one of those rare albums with no “skip over” songs or low points.
Although “Destiny” demonstrates and Wilson’s ability to experiment and evolve as a musician, fans of her work won’t be disappointed with the results. Likewise, those just discovering her music should find this album enjoyable enough to want to delve back into her earlier work.
“Destiny” is simply a beautiful listen from beginning to end, and it’s refreshing to see a local talent who can not only grow as a performer, but also remain true to herself in the process.
Lisa Kay Tate
Cardo and Friends Richard Schwartz (Cardo) is a native El Pasoan whose music career crisscrossed the country and world before he returned to his hometown. As a concert promoter, he worked with such big names as Rush, Heart and the Eagles, establishing long-term friendships with the best in the music business.
Those connections are reflected in Cardo’s own singer-songwriter album “Cardo and Friends.” It’s a labor of love that draws from his own storytelling style and a mix of musical influences that span bluegrass to rock.
The 15 tracks mostly share an introspective tone of someone looking back at life and trying to make sense of both past and present. Even when he sings of “Chasin’ the Future,” it’s the future of someone who is trying “to make a deal with time.”
The ballads are sometimes bleak, such as “It Could Happen to Anyone” that references violence on “an afternoon in Juarez, across the Rio Grande.” A cross-country driver faces “Christmas Eve Alone.” He wrestles with trying to keep “faith, hope and love” in a “World Gone Wrong.”
The big surprises of this album are the credits. David Kersenbaum (producer, mixer and backing vocals) is a legendary music executive and producer with 75 gold and platinum records on his resume, having worked with the likes of Tracy Chapman, Janet Jackson, Bryan Adams, Duran Duran and Tori Amos. Mitch Perry (associate producer, musical director, backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars) is a guitarist whose work with such stars as Edgar Winters, Graham Nash and Cher go back three decades. John Payne (backing vocals, engineering) is best known as vocalist and bassist for Asia. Those are just some of the musical who’s who members listed on the album jacket, along with such well-known local musicians as Chris Sanders and Steve Smith.
For more information, go to cardoandfriends.com.
Dan Lambert The Double Drum Trio (Coordinate Records) Dan Lambert is a rare breed in El Paso, a musician who actually makes his living primarily as a performer (although he also does private lessons), and one who has been doing so for many years. He typically is found playing at casual but high-quality eateries such as the Magic Pan or Ripe, sometimes as a solo guitarist and sometimes with whatever ensemble he's currently assembled.
Dan is also a true musician in that he's always pursuing some new creative aspect of his art. He's best known as a finger-style guitarist and composer of music that a melting pot of various genres, such as jazz, blues, pop and world music. About 10 or 12 years ago he was on a recording streak, producing a series of CDs that included “The Clearing,” “Melodies/Improvisations,” “Plaids” and “The Blue Hand.” Then he stayed out of the studio for nearly a decade.
He returned in style this year, bringing his newfound oud, sarod and ruan as well as his familiar guitar and accompanied by percussionists Ricardo Amaya and Erik Hickerson to Tornillo's Sonic Ranch. Hidden among pecan orchards at the southeast edge of El Paso County, Sonic Ranch advertises itself as “the largest Residential Recording Studio complex in the world.”
The result is “Dan Lambert The Double Drum Trio,” a collection of Dan's original compositions that spans jazz and Middle Eastern styles. He'll officially release the CD with a dinner show Jan. 20 at the Magic Pan. His music also will be featured Jan. 29 as part of the local music mix for Dance Alive's Belly Dance Extravaganza at the Chamizal.
Pick up a copy at Collectibles, White’s Music Box, All That Music or Ripe.
‘Blood and Candle Smoke’ by Tom Russell (Shout Factory). Russell is another example of El Paso extreme talent, but in this case El Paso can’t take credit for his birth. It took Russell about 50 years to find his way here, making the Upper Valley his home base while touring around the world. Russell is a folk/country singer-songwriter best known for ballads such as “Outbound Plane” and “Gallo del Cielo” that were made into hits by other singers . His El Paso years have been particularly productive his critically acclaimed folk cycle CD, “The Man from God Knows Where” came out in 1999 and his latest, “Blood and Candle Smoke” is the 10th album during the past 10 years. In this CD, his first set of original songs under the Shout label, Russell draws from some of his early years growing up in the turbulent 1960s “East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam,” studying criminology and teaching in Africa, as well as the influences of living on the border. Russell fans can catch some of these songs in person Nov. 6 and 7, when he performs in Silver City and Las Cruces.
“Kivvunin,” Larry Bach. El Paso Rabbi Larry Bach’s new CD, translated as “directions” or “intentions,” is aptly named, as it carries a definite directive motive. The two most notable songs book-end the CD, including the bilingual, folksy opening track “Ki Eshm’ra Shabbat,” that leads off with Bach’s Dylan-inspired harmonica and lyrics reflecting the importance of the Shabbat (Sabbath). Most of the songs that follow have a consistent, easy-sounding rhythm, serving as mini-sermons based on Hebrew text and common sense values that could we well-heed by persons of all faiths, especially Jewish listeners and Christians who haven’t forgotten the importance of the Old Testament teachings.
One of the catchier songs is “Lullaby,” an English arrangement by Bach of a Hebrew-language song. The repetitive nature-inspired lyrics and flowing beat make it a nice sing-a-long for both youth and adults.
He saves his most personal work, however, for last in “Bob Dylan Came to Town.” In Bach’s reimagining of “The Night Hank Williams Came to Town,” his long-time music idol performs in concert a short distance from his home...on Erev Pesach, a sacred time that ushers in the Passover. Bach’s kind voice and clean guitar complements each other, and if this CD’s “intention” was to give to give the listener a sense of calm, it certainly did the trick.
-- Lisa Kay Tate
“Songs of Ascent,” Ellen M. Wilson. Wilson’s collection of Hebrew and English language songs, many inspired by verses from the Psalms and other books, sounds as home in the Southwest as it would in the mountainous Middle East. The easy-going instrumentals range from solemn piano and flute to jazzier saxophone, all accompanied by Wilson’s clear, silky voice (with accompaniment by guest vocalist Cantor Robbie Sherwin) to give an ethereal appeal. It would be hard not to sit though flowing melodies such as “Shir Chadash (A New Song)” or the closer “Oseah Shalom (Grant Peace)” and not feel at peace. It would be too easy to compare Wilson’s sound to that of the Celtic-based vocalists such as Enya or Loreena McKennitt, but Wilson adds a touch of the desert and her own, rich Jewish heritage to the mix giving “Songs of Ascent” both regional and global appeal.
-- “Thank You,” George Arriola. (Vyking Recordings). This local award-winning singer and composer has been celebrated for instrumental, vocal and writing capability. He new vocal CD is a precursor to his soon-to-be-released progressive instrumental rock CD “All I Wanna Do.” This laidback (albeit brief) EP reminiscent of the 1970s and 1980s soft rock stylings. “For Love” in particular flows like a romantic walk on the beach. None of the songs struck me as stand-outs, but considering what we are listening to is all George, the musical ability is pretty darn impressive.
-- Glenn Leffler, “Acoustic Journey,” Adventures in Solo Guitar.” Leffler’s thoughtful nature and faith are evident selections from the flowing opener, “Pandora’s Box” to the slightly perkier “Pop’s Rag.” The songs are consistent and clean throughout. There are no surprises on this album, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, making this a good choice for the office or early morning back porch lounging.
-- La Guitarra presents Mario Otero, “Down at the Pass.” Otero has a great way of combining the gritty edge of the border with the disciplined sound of classical guitar. The clever narrative at throughout is a suitable tribute to Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi” Trilogy, followed by a series of regionally inspired tunes like the grito-infused “Bandito Concierto” and the heart-breaking bilingual lament of “The Children of Juarez.” Although, honestly, I prefer the instrumentals on this offering, especially the brief “La Vienta” reunion featuring Otero and Stefan Schyga.
-- Stefan Schyga -- “A Winter Romance.” It has been far too long since Schyga has released a solo CD, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Packed with 15 instrumental flamenco-inspired tracks, standouts include the jazzy, mystical “Niko” (joined by Otero) the snaky rhythms of “Bossamenco” and the exotic, percussion-fused “Streets of Marrakech.”
-- Lisa Kay Tate
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