Music and Comedy
Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns
‘La Parada’ — The indoor/outdoor monthly music series is 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 1, at the San Carlos Building, 501 Texas. Admission: $5, ages 18 and older welcome. Information: facebook.com/laparadaep.
La Parada is an ongoing music, art and social party held the first Friday of the month. This month’s even features Rare Individuals, Stan Z & Idea from Third C.O.A.S.T., Rob Bass, System A, live art and Jam DCC.
Mesita’s ‘It’s A Spring Thing’ — The Mesita PTA will host its 7th annual spring concert 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 1, on the Mesita Elementary School lawn, 3307 N. Stanton, with a concert by FM Junkies, games and food for sale. All ages welcome. Admission: $5 ($3 children). Information: 247-7974.
Howling Coyote Coffeehouse — The open mic event is 7 p.m. Friday, May 1, at Center for Spiritual Living, 575 N. Main, on Las Cruces Downtown Main Street, following the monthly Downtown Arts Ramble. Signup begins at 6:30 p.m. The community event is on the First Fridays of the month. Free admission to participants and audience. Information: Bob Burns, (575) 525-9333 or email@example.com.
The “Howling Coyote” is open to acoustic musicians, poets, storytellers, and singer/songwriters for material that is family-friendly. Coffee, soft drinks and snacks available.
Fandango Concert — El Paso Parks and Recreation hosts an all-day music event with Mariachi Los Toritos, Dream Merchants Band (R&B/Motown) and Extremo Tropical (salsa) 1 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at 201 Isela Rubalcaba (behind Community College and Canutillo High School), as part of the department’s free Fandango Concert Series. Bring chairs and a picnic. No alcohol or glass bottled beverages permitted. Friendly dogs on leash allowed. Information: 212-1731 or on Facebook at El Paso Parks and Recreation.
Fronterizmo Vol 2 — The audiovisual festival of music art and dance from artists from El Paso and Juarez is 8 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at the San Carlos Building, 501 Texas, with music by Sonido Cachimbo, Aitanire, Lunatic, Boruca Sound, Space Captains Collective and Sens, and art by Calavera, ENKS, Carlos Palomares, Entrañas and Arte Callejero Fronterizo. Admission: $3. Information on Facebook at Fronterizmo Vol. 2.
Jazz Unlimited Big Band — The jazz band presents its 11th annual concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 5005 Love Road. Featured guest is 2014 Grammy-winning trumpet soloist Steffen Kuehn of San Francisco. Seating is limited. Admission is free; donations welcome. Information: 637-4569.
Youngsville — The indie band’s ‘Quest for Water’ Tour 2015 is 8 p.m. Friday, May 8, at Eleanor Rigby’s World Pub, 1201 Bob Hope, promoting their latest album “Drought City.” The band performs foot-stomping, high energy, folk-pop elements with other styles mixed in. Call for admission: 249-6223 or rigbysworld.com. Youngville information: (505) 366-1952 or theyoungsville.com.
Abe Mac CD release — American Patriots hosts a CD release for El Paso country artist Abe Mac’s new CD “Chasing On,” at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Shadow Mountain Lakes, 17650 Ensley Road. All ages welcome; bring a chair or blanket. Admission: $5, benefiting local veterans and American Patriots. Overnight camping is additional $5 per carload. Food and drink vendors available. Raffles also planned. Information: abemacband.com or amerianpatriotssml.org.
Miller Lite El Paso Blues and Jazz Festival — The two-day music fest is Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, at Chamizal National Memorial, 800 S. San Marcial. Performance schedule to be announced. Admission is free.
Information: 526-0719, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at epbluesandjazz.
Saturday is all-blues day, and Saturday is all-jazz day; both days feature two indoor workshops at 1:30 p.m. with main stage music 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the amphitheater.
Saturday’s workshops are a Harmonica Master Class with Mark Hummel at 1:30 p.m., and Guitar according to Charlie Baty at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday’s performers are 24/7 Blues Band, Austin Jimmy Murphy, Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King, Mark Hummel / Charlie Baty Combo and England’s Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown.
Sunday’s workshops are Jazz Piano Styles with Ruben Gutierrez at 1:30 p.m., and El Paso Youth Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Marty Olivas and Ricky Malichi at 2:30 p.m.
Sunday’s performers are Billy Townes and Mike Hamilton, Marty Olivas & Case Closed, Chicago’s Nick Colionne, Mexico City’s Matias Carbajal.
‘Queers through the Years’ — Singing Out LGBTA Chorus present a tribute to musicians and songs of the GLBT community for its 2015 Spring Concert at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 16-17, at Peace Lutheran Church, 1701 Missouri, in Las Cruces, featuring the music of Cole Porter, Elton John, Rodgers and Hart, Broadway hits from “Wicked,” “Rent” and more. Tickets: $10 (free for ages 10 and younger); available at the door or at Spirit Winds in Las Cruces. Information: (575) 640-0816, singingoutlascruces.org or on Facebook at singingoutlascruces.
The Las Cruces chorus is a member of GALA Choruses (Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses). They are a not-for-profit mixed-voice chorus of gay and straight men and women who enjoy entertaining a wide variety of audiences with music, including classical, traditional and contemporary.
Mesilla Valley Jazz and Blues Society — The society presents the RG Trio as part of its monthly concert series at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 17, at First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo in Las Cruces. The music begins after a short business meeting. Admission: $8 ($5 members; $1 students with ID). Coffee and dessert reception precedes the concert at 6:30 p.m. in the foyer. Information: Larry Brooks, (575) 640-8752 or mvjazzblues.net.
The trio is composed of Bob Geitgey, piano; Erik Unsworth, bass; and Bryon Mutnick, drums.
Desert Slice Tour — The tour featuring Biscuit Roller, The Colossal Heads and Sluthammer to 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday, May 18, at Mesa Music Hall (Electric Banana), 4151 N. Mesa. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission: $5. Information: electricbanana915.com or on Facebook.
Richard Geilwitz — The Las Cruces bluegrass artist and the fingerstyle guitarist will perform a house concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 28, in Las Cruces, with bluegrass artist Steve Smith. Gilewitz has released seven recordings and entertains with a playing style laced with sounds of folk, traditional, blues, Americana, and classical, exploring a history of fingerstyle guitar while topping off songs with tales of the road to create a rousing performances. Reservations required. Admission: $15 donation. Light snacks provided; BYOB. Information, location: email@example.com.
Gilewitz will host a fingerstyle workshop at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at Hubbard’s Music and More, 108 Wyatt in Las Cruces. Cost: $35. Information: (575) 525-8884.
State Line Music Series — West Texas Food Bank and State Line Restaurant, 1222 Sunland Park Drive presents the Rudolph Chevrolet-Honda-Mazda-Volkswagen outdoor concert series 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through July 1. Admission is free; age 21 and older welcome. All customers asked to bring non-perishable food donation or monetary donation for the West Texas Food Bank. Information: 581-3371, WTxFoodBank.org or countyline.com.
• April 29: The O’s
• May 6: Radio La Chusma
• May 13: Abe Mac
• May 20: Fungi Mungle
• May 27: Thieving Birds
• June 3: Chuco Soul Project
301 Live — El Paso’s newest nightlife venue is at 301 S. Ochoa hosts live music and DJs. Doors usually open at 9 p.m. Admission is free before 11 p.m. with RSVP ($5 or more for age 18-20, depending on event) at firstname.lastname@example.org; entrance fee increases after 11 p.m. Age 18 and older welcome; dress code enforced. Information: 307-5516 or 301nightlife.com.
• Friday, May 1: Gina Torres
• Friday, May 8: POPOF
• Saturday, May 9: Snails
• Friday, May 15: Mark Romboy
• Saturday May 16: Mark Knight
• Friday, May 29: Nicole Moudaber
Alfresco! Fridays — The 2015 season of free outdoor summer concerts are 6 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 18, at Convention Center Plaza. Presented by ElPasoLive.com and sponsored by FirstLight Federal Credit Union. No outside food or beverages, or pets allowed. No concert July 4. Information: 534-0633 or alfrescofridays.com.
• May 1: Azucar (Latin Variety)
• May 8: Brown Betty (classic rock)
• May 15: Radio La Chusma (Latin reggae)
• May 22: Abe Make Band (country)
• May 29: Exito (Tejano)
• June 5: Rod Crosby & The Intruders (classic rock)
Cool Canyon Nights — The summer series of free outdoor summer concerts are 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays May 14-July 30 at McKelligon Canyon, Amphitheatre. This year’s series also offers weekly craft beer specials, a VIP lounge, food trucks, a photo booth, and free rides from the base of the canyon from Casa Nissan. Information: 534-0600 or elpasolive.com, kisselpaso.com or on Facebook at CoolCanyonNights.
• May 14: 80s Night with Prime 80′Z
• May 21: Soul Night with Sha’Vonne
• May 28: Country Night with TrailerBand & Joe Barron Band
• June 4: Tribute Night with Windy City: Chicago Tribute
Live Music at Sombra Antigua — Sombra Antigua Vineyard and Winery, 430 La Viña Road (off NM 28 between markers 8 and 9), in Chamberino, N.M. hosts free live music 2:30 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Food trucks available most Saturdays; bring a picnic basket Sunday. Information: (915) 241-4349 or sombraantigua.com.
• May 2: Rio Seco Band from 2:30 PM to 6:00 PM.
• May 3: The Two of Us
• May 9: Chris Baker
• May 10: ARDK
• May 16: Frontera Jazz
• May 17: AprilTicket
• May 23: 2nd Annual Celebration of David & Theresa’s Birthday with music by Chris Baker, Jerry & Ed, Travis Manning, Vince Alten and others
• May 24: Frank Zona
• May 31: Matt Morgan
Speaking Rock Entertainment Center — 122 S. Pueblo Rd. Live music nightly. The center hosts tribute bands of various genres each Thursday. Age 18 and older welcome. Information: 860-7777 or speakingrockentertainment.com.
Metal legends Krokus perform at 5 p.m. Monday, May 4. Admission is free.
Tumbleweed Saloon — The saloon at 1610 Sioux Street hosts live music Fridays. Free country dance lesson every Wednesday. Information: 307-6276.
An Abe Mac Single Release Party is Tuesday, May 5.
Texas Country Music Artist of the Year Sam Riggs and this band The Night People perform Thursday, May 14, with opening act Joe Barron Band. Tickets: $5.
Zin Valle Free Music Sundays — Zin Valle vineyard, 7315 Hwy 28 in Canutillo (3/4 mile north of FM 259), hosts free live music 1 to 4 p.m. on selected Sundays. Guests may also enjoy wine tastings. Bring a picnic. Information: 877-4544 or zinvalle.com.
• May 10: Julio Ortiz
• May 24: Dusty Low
• June 7: Dan Lambert and Double Drum Trio
Sunset Sounds Concert Series — Free music is 7 to 9 p.m. Saturdays through July at The Fountains at Farah Promenade Amphitheater, 8889 Gateway West. Information: 225-3600 or fountainsatfarah.com.
• May 16: Broken Dime Band
• May 23: Albert and The Cactus Moon
• May 30: Performer to be announced.
Sunland Winery — 1769 Victory Lane in Sunland Park, N.M. Information: (575) 589-1214.
Live Music is 7:30 p.m. Fridays 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays with David Huerta, 7:30 p.m. Saturdays with Huerta and Lala Ledezma, plus 8 p.m. Thursdays with Ledezma and Team Havana, and free Latin dance lessons. Free wine tastings.
Sunland Park Racetrack live music — Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, 1200 Futurity Drive, hosts free music at 9.m. on selected weekends. Age 21 and older admitted. Information: sunland-park.com.
Ardovino’s Live Music — Ardovino’s Desert Crossing, One Ardovino Dr. in Sunland Park, hosts live music at 7;30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Information: (575) 589-0653
Railroad Blues — 504 W. Holland, Alpine, Texas. Most performances begin at 10 p.m. Admission varies. Information: (432) 837-3103 or railroadblues.com.
• May 1: Radio La Chusma
• May 7: Texas Renegade
• May 9: The Birddogs.
Sunset Soundtracks — El Cosmico vintage trailer lodge, 802 S. Highland in Marfa, Texas, presents free live music events on selected evenings. Showtime is 8 p.m. Information: (432) 729-1950 or elcosmico.com.
• Aesthetic roots rock band Burning Palms performs Wednesday, May 6.
• Run on Sentance featuring crooner Dustin Hamman performs Thursday, May 14.
• Texas blues and soul band Redeye performs Saturday, May 23.
• Husband-and-wife alt folkrock band Shivering Timbers performs Tuesday, May 26.
‘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)
• May 12: Young at Heart Chorus
• May 26: Richard Gilewitz.
Carrizozo Music — Carrizozo hosts free community concerts each month at Trinity Methodist Church, 1000 D. Street, in Carrizozo, N.M. Information: (575) 648-2577 or carrizozmusic.org. Mother’s Day Melodies with the Enchantment Trio is 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 15.
Music in the Park — The Las Cruces summer concert series are Sundays during the summer months featuring both local and guest artists. No pets allowed. Admission is free. Information: (575) 541-2550 or las-cruces.org.
Concert season usually begins Memorial Day weekend. Schedule to be announced.
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.
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. Closed May 10 for Mother’s Day. Tickets: $6 Wednesday and Thursday, $12 Friday and Saturday, $8 Sunday; VIP booths are $10 more per tickets; available at ticketweb.com.
Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233), laff2nite.com or on Facebook at El Paso Comic Strip.
• April 29-May 3: JC Currais & Chris Cope
• May 6-9: Sandman Hypnotist Show
• May 20-24: Elliott Threatt
• May 27-31: Steve Trevino
Special event appearances are $22.50 Thursday and Sunday, $27.50 Friday and Saturday; VIP booth seats $10 more per ticket:
• May 14-17: Steve-O from “Jackass”
• June 5-6: Pauly Shore, “The Weezel.”
Frank Caliendo — The standup comic performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 21, at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, N.M. Ages 21 and older welcome. Tickets: $30-$75. Information: 1-877-277-5677 or innofthemountaingods.com.
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:
The Rose of Roscrae: A Ballad of the West (Frontera Records) — Tom Russell moved to El Paso nearly 20 years ago, but aside from the occasional concert here at best once a year or two, he’s off the radar of local music lovers. Unless they happen to be fans of folk/Americana or just brilliant songwriting in general. And while Russell maintains a home base in the Upper Valley, most of the time he’s performing across the United States and Europe.
Russell’s first release after his move to El Paso was “The Man from God Knows Where,” a folk opera based on his own Irish/Norwegian roots, spanning the times of his immigrant ancestors to his own youth in California and finally settling in the Southwest. Many of his later works have drawn inspiration from his new home, most notably his “Borderland” album.
During the past two decades, Russell had also been at work on his magnum opus, “The Rose of Roscrae,” a 2-disc, 52-track folk opera that also spans the late 19th and early 20th century. The story centers on Johnny Dutton, an Irish immigrant turned cowboy outlaw, and his lifelong love interest, Rose Malloy. Along the way we meet a cast of characters including an evangelistic marshal who chases Dutton, now known as Johnny Behind-the-Deuce, across North America; and even Father Damien, the real-life priest who ministered to the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.
The cast of musicians behind this masterpiece is even more impressive. Besides Russell, whose gritty voice captures the hard-tempered passion of the cowboy protagonist, the album features Maura O’Connell as Rose Malloy and dozens of others, including Joe Ely, Dave Olney, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Gretchen Peters, Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmy LaFave, Augie Meyers, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Ian Tyson. There are recorded pieces from Johnny Cash, Lead Belly, John Trudell, Walt Whitman and Tex Ritter, and accompanying music by the Norwegian Wind Ensemble and Swiss Yodel Choir of Bern.
It also would take as many words to describe the genres of music represented in “The Rose of Roscrae,” from haunting Celtic instrumentals to raucous cowboy songs to gospel to classic Americana and blues. The more you try to describe this work, the more you realize it’s in a class by itself.
The one warning that should come with the album: It’s not easy listening. My recommendation would be to bring the album along on your next long driving trip through the desert, and let it take you on its own journey.
You can find “The Rose of Roscrae” at fronterarecords.com, as well as its companion offering, an 82-page program guide with libretto.
You can also hear some of the music live May 17 at Tricky Falls, where Russell will make one his rare El Paso concerts.
— Randy Limbird
‘El Paso’ by David Keenan — A video of Irish singer/songwriter David Keenan performing a song about El Paso recently went viral, but it isn’t the El Paso you would expect.
“El Paso is the nickname given to my home town of Dundalk as it is situated on the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic,” Keenan explained.
In addition to being a viral hit, Keenan’s “El Paso” will be on the soundtrack of the Texas-made indie Western, “Brothers James: Retribution,” about a pair of brothers who take on the persona of the infamous Frank and Jesse James.
This song, although obviously written about the Irish community, could have a similar appeal to area residents, and Keenan’s beautifully folky voice is enough to appeal to people anywhere.
A video of Keenan performing the song is on YouTube under “David Keenan - El Paso (Live for The Sunday Sessions)” or find the original viral video on YouTube under “Irish Guy (David Keenan) Singing in Taxi.”
— Lisa Kay Tate
“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
El Paso Scene MONTHLY
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