Music and Comedy Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns
High Noon Music Series UTEP’s free weekly outdoor brown-bag concert (formerly known as Wednesday Music Cafe) series is noon to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at UTEP’s Student Union Plaza, featuring a variety of music. Information: 747-5711 or utep.edu/union.
• March 5: Great Shapes (indie/alternative)
• March 19: Collisions (post-rock instrumental)
• March 26: Ribo Flavin (alternative/hip-hop)
• April 2: Miijas (surf rock/punk)
Hanks Jazz Festival The 22nd annual festival runs all day Thursday through Saturday, March 6-8, in the Hanks High School auditorium, 2100 Lee Trevino Regional middle and high school students will perform throughout the festival, with guest artists saxophonist Brad Leali and trumpet player Maclej Fortuna. Audience admission is free. Information: 434-9700 or hanksband.com.
The final concert is 7 p.m. Saturday.
‘La Parada’ The indoor/outdoor monthly music series is 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at the San Carlos Building, 501 Texas. Admission: $5, ages 18 and older welcome. Information: facebook/laparadaep.com.
La Parada is an ongoing music, art and social party held the first Friday of the month.
RGT Live! The open mic for musicians, singers and songwriters is 7 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of the month (March 7) at the Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Downtown Mall, in Las Cruces, as part of the monthly Downtown Ramble. Performer sign-up is 6:30 p.m. Coffee and light snacks provided. Admission is free, but donations welcome. Information: (575) 523-6403 or riograndetheatre.com.
‘Elvis Returns!’ La Tierra Cafe, 1731 Montana, presents the dinner show at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 8, featuring the tribute to The King. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.; dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $34 in advance; $37 at the door. Seating is limited. Information/reservations: 533-8890 or latierracafe.com.
The April 12 show is a Tribute to Juan Gabriel, and the May 10 show features Flamenco Duende Gitano.
Mexican Summer Festival Mexican Summer and Ballroom Marfa will host an all day music festival noon to sundown Saturday, March 8, at El Cosmico, 802 S. Highland in Marfa, Texas. Performers include Connan Mockasin, No Joy, Quilt, Weyes Blood and Arp. Admission is free. Information: (432) 729-1950 or elcosmico.com.
New Bums The Drag City records band performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, at Marfa Book Co., 105 S. Highland in Marfa, Texas, in support of their latest record “Voice From an Empty Room.” Information: (432) 729-3906 or marfabookco.com.
St. Patrick’s music festival The Hoppy Monk, 4141 N. Mesa, hosts its annual all-day bash noon to 2 a.m. Monday, March 17, with area bands performing throughout the day and evening, including The Pinsetters, Sorry About Your Sister, Ribo Flavin, Great Shapes in The Works and The San Patricios. Information: 307-3263 or thehoppymonk.com.
Roy Zimmerman Connects the Blue Dots The satirical songwriter in the tradition of Tom Lehrer and Phil Ochs performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 21, at Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso, 4425 Byron. Zimmerman tours almost constantly, taking his funny songs about fracking, creationism, marijuana laws, government shutdown, same-sex marriage, guns, taxes and abstinence across the country, often playing in some of the least progressive places in America for the most progressive people there. Suggested cost: $18. Information: 562-4001 or uuelpaso.org.
‘A Class Act’ The Remember Then musicians host a benefit concert to support the Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Downtown Mall in Las Cruces, with a concert 2 p.m. Sunday, March 23. Concert tickets: $12 in advance, $15 day of show. Information: (575) 523-6403 or riograndetheatre.com.
David Cerros The El Paso musician performs 6 to 9 p.m. Saturdays in February at Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant, 1605 George Dieter. Information: 629-9898.
BBQ Blues Band The blues band hosts a free open blues jam session 7 to 10 p.m. every Thursday, at Iron Horse Saloon, 4930 Hondo Pass. Musicians should bring their own amps and musical instruments. A PA will be provided. Information: 244-0758 or on Facebook at bbqblues.
New Desert Harmony Singers auditions The community mixed chorus, directed by Don Harlow, rehearses for their upcoming season 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 225 W. Griggs (at Alameda) in Las Cruces. NDHS Membership is open to those who can sing in tune, do a few simple dance moves now and then, and have fun doing it. Interested singers are welcome to attend a rehearsal. Information: Don Harlow, (575) 373-1816 or NDHSingers@gmail.com.
Speaking Rock Entertainment Center 125 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.
‘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. Suggested donation: $2. Information: (575) 523-6403 or riograndetheatre.com.
March 4: Decade of the Dead Arcade. March 18: TBA.
Ballroom Marfa B108 E. San Antonio in Marfa, Texas. Information: (432) 729-3600 or ballroommarfa.org.
• Acclaimed singer/songwriter Tish Hinojosa performs a free concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at the USO Building.
• The Doodlin’ Hogwallops perform April 12, as part of the Presidio County Fair. Details to be announced.
Howling Coyote Coffeehouse The open mic event is 7 p.m. Friday, March 7, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino 1200 Futurity Dr. (at Sunland Park Drive), Sunland Park, N.M.
Live music is offered 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and Mariachi 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sundays in the Franklins Lounge. No cover. Information: (575) 874-5200.
Disco with local DJs is 6:30 to 10 p.m. Sundays. Karaoke offered with Rock The House 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Thursday. Weekly winners receive gift bag with prizes.
Railroad Blues 504 W. Holland, Alpine, Texas. Most performances begin at 9 p.m. Admission: $8, unless otherwise listed. Information: (432) 837-3103 or railroadblues.com.
• Saturday, March 1: Radio La Chusma
• Tuesday, March 4: Wildflower Band
• Friday, March 14: Pete Anderson
• Saturday, March 22: Chrome Molly
• Saturday, March 28: Sheila Marshall. 10 p.m.
• Thursday, April 3: Cody Canada and The Departed, 10 p.m.
• Saturday, April 5: El Tule, 10 p.m.
• Friday, April 11: Maddison Livingston and the Neon Rodeo Band “Sleeping Lonely” CD release party, 10 p.m.
• Saturday, April 12: Slow Down Summer
• Friday, April 25: Doug Strahan and the Good Neighbors
• Wednesday, April 30: Red Elvises.
Sunset Soundtracks El Cosmico vintage trailer lodge, 802 S. Highland in Marfa, Texas, host free live music events at 8 p.m. on selected evenings. Information: (432) 729-1950 or elcosmico.com.
• Friday, Feb. 28: Molybden with Ross Cashiola
• Monday, March 10: Jay Arner with Raw Geronimo
• Wednesday, March 12: Dim Peaks
• Sunday, March 16: Post-rock band JoyCut with SW/MM/NG
• Friday, March 21: New age electronic band Doomsquad
• Thursday, March 27: Modern folk band Technicolor Hearts.
Padre’s Marfa 209 W. El Paso Street in Marfa, Texas. Admission is free, unless otherwise listed. Information: 432-729-4425 or padresmarfa.com.
• Tuesday, March 11: Dot Wiggins (of the Shaggs)
• Wednesday, March 12: Ty Segall. Tickets to be determined.
• Friday, March 21: Darsombra
• Saturday, April 5: Holy Wave
• Tuesday, April 22: Future Islands
• Friday, April 25: The Men.
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.
Tickets: $6 Wednesday and Thursday, $12 Friday and Saturday, $8 Sunday, unless listed otherwise; available at ticketweb.com. Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233) or laff2nite.com.
• Feb. 26-March 2: Sadiki Fuller, with Eric Alegria. Host is Dave Graham.
• March 5-9: Flip Schultz with feature act Allison Weber. Schultz’s high-energy performances earned him a win at West Palm Beach HBO Comedy Showcase, slots in Latino Laugh Festival and Loco Comedy Jam, and a role in the film Big Trouble.
Carlos Mencia, the superstar standup comic behind the Comedy Central hit “Mind of Mencia” performs Thursday through Sunday, April 3-6. Tickets: $27.50 Thursday, $32.50 Friday and Saturday; no free passes accepted.
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.
Paul Rodriguez The Latino stand-up comic, actor and television producer performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, N.M. Ages 21 and older admitted. Tickets: $65 (Ticketmaster). Information: 1-877-277-5677 or innofthemountaingods.com.
Rodriguez’s first major break was doing comedy warm-ups for audience at Norman Lear’s show “Gloria.” He starred in the short-lived show “a.k.a. Pablo,” then “Trial and Error” and “Grand Slam. His movie credits include “Born in East L.A.” and “Made in America,” and the voice of “Chico” in Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” He also produced and starred in the first-ever Spanish language stand-up comedy special on Telemundo television.
George Lopez The stand-up comedy star and El Paso favorite presents his “Listen To My Face Tour” at at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at the Abraham Chavez Theatre. Former star of the ABC “George Lopez” sitcom and TBS’s “Lopez Tonight,” Lopez also is a frequent host of “Que Locos” on Univision. Tickets: $37 to $57 (Ticketmaster).
Recently added to the El Paso playlist:
“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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