July 2015

Music and Comedy


Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Cool Canyon Nights — Townsquare Media’s summer series of free outdoor summer concerts are 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through 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.
June 25: Salsa Night with Sabrosoora
July 2: Jazz Night with Billy Townes
July 9: Rock Night with Mainstreet
July 16: Family Night with Toll Booth Willie
July 23: Classic Rock Night with Brown Betty
July 30: El Paso’s Choice Contest Winner, Our Friend the Mountain.

Solace — The metal band performs Saturday, June 27, at Player’s Billiard Parlor, 2024 Dyer, in support of the self-titled debut album. Details to be announced. Information: 565-7665

Music Under the Stars — The 32nd summer concert series, presented by the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department is 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays, through July 26, at the Chamizal National Memorial amphitheater, 800 S. San Marcial. No concert July 5. Admission is free. Information: 212-0110 , 532-7273 (Chamizal), elpasoartsandculture.org or on Facebook at Music Under The Stars.
June 28: 911-In-Effect, funk
July 12: Vertical Horizon, alt rock
July 19: Dos Santo Anti Beat Orquestra, Latin Fusion
July 26: Noche Ranchera with Zulema Villela y su Mariachi Cuauhtemoc
The annual Independence Day patriotic concert with El Paso Wind Symphony is 7 p.m. Saturday, July 4.
  Concertgoers may park at the El Paso Zoo and take a shuttle to the park for free from 6:30 to 10 p.m. (6 to 10 p.m. July 4).
  Grills are allowed at the park except in the inner part known as the bowl. Smoking not allowed in the bowl area. Glass containers, pets, and outside alcoholic beverages are not allowed in park grounds. Food and beverages will be for sale by the food vendors.

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. Information: 534-0633 or alfrescofridays.com.
July 3: Fixed Idea (Latin ska)
July 10: Sorry About Your Sister (rockabilly)
July 17: Tejas Band (Spanish variety)
July 24: Joe King Carrasco (Tex-Mex)
July 31: Mariachi Fatigo.

Thompson Square — The country duo behind the hit single “Trans Am” performs as part of the summer “Let Freedom Sing” concert series at 7 p.m. Friday, July 3, at Fort Bliss’s Freedom Crossing’s event lawn.
  No coolers or outside food and beverages permitted. Chairs permitted on concrete areas only. The public is welcome; early arrival is encouraged. Information: 564-5311 or freedomcrossingatfortbliss.com.
  Thompson Square is composed of husband and wife Keifer and Shawna Thompson. The duo have released two albums which have produced two chart topping singles, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” and “If I Didn’t Have You”. They have also won back to back ACM “Vocal Duo of the Year” awards in 2012 and 2013.
  The show will include two opening acts: local favorite the Joe Barron Band and Nashville recording artists Sister C.

NM State Championship Fiddle Contest — The New Mexico Old Time Fiddlers Association hosts a summer music jam 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11-12, at the Truth or Consequences Civic Center’s Ralph Edwards Auditorium, 400 W. Fourth. Dances planned 7 to 9 p.m. both nights. Information: (575) 744-9137 or nmofta.org.

Bluegrass Festival — The 20th annual all-day festival begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 18, at the Weed Community Center in Weed, N.M. The event offers continuous live music, food, arts and crafts, plus entertainment for kids. Admission: $15 (free for ages 12 and younger). Information: (575) 687-3316, (575) 687-3648, (575) 687-2302, or weednm.org.
  Open mic is 8 to 8:45 a.m. with guest bands beginning at 9 a.m. Featured bands include Simple Gifts, Texas Country, Vintage, Bost Family Traditions, From the Heartland Bluegrass, Blue Sky Country and Pecos Valley Bluegrass. Master of Ceremonies is Kim Chesser.
  A Bluegrass gospel devotional service is 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 19. Admission is free.
  To get there: take Hwy 130, turn right at Cloudcroft, and follow the signs to Weed, which is 23 miles southeast of Cloudcroft.

Hard Road Trio — The Las Cruces bluegrass ensemble hosts several area performances during the summer months. Information: hardroadtrio.com or desertnight.com
• Road Rolling Review benefit for KRWG is 7 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at the Rio Grande Theatre in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall, and 4 p.m. Sunday, July 19, at the Buckhorn Opera House is Pinos Altos, with Kitty Starr, Whereabouts and Squirrel Hunters and special guests and fan favorites Nate Lee (fiddle), Tim May (guitar) and Beth Mead (banjo). Tickets: $15 ($7.50 12 and younger) Saturday; call for Sunday prices. Information: (575) 646-5794 or krwg.org.
• A Road Rolling Revue is 7 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at Sacred Grounds Coffee and Tea House
2704 Sudderth, in Ruidoso., with celebrity MC Tim McCasland. Tickets: $10 in advance; $15 at the door. Information: (575) 937-0596.

Desert Night Acoustic Music Camp — The Hard Road Trio Rolling Review hosts a day of instrumental and vocal workshops beginning at noon Tuesday, July 21, in Las Cruces. Workshops include Guitar and improvisation with Tim May; Fiddle and music business with Nate Lee; Bass and jam survival with Anne Luna; Banjo and jam survival with Beth Mead; Mandolin and improvisation with Steve Smith; and Vocals and harmony singing with Chris Sanders. Location to be announced. Information: hardroadtrio.com or desertnight.com.

‘Viva Big Bend’ Music Festival — “Texas Music” Magazine hosts the 4th annual music festival and conference Thursday through Sunday, July 23-26, in Marfa, Alpine, Fort Davis and Marathon. More than 50 music acts from across the country, representing a variety of styles including alternative, Americana, folk, Latin, pop and rock, will be showcased in several venues.
  Tickets: $50; available in advance at vivabigbend.com. Tickets limited; price may increase after original tickets sell out.
  Venues include Railroad Blues, Granada Theatre, Reata and Holland Hotel in Alpine; Lost Horse, Padre’s, Planet Marfa and USO Hall in Marfa; the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Audrey Tyrone Kelly Outdoor Theater in Fort Davis; and Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa.
  The event kicks off Thursday with an all-star tribute to Doug Sahm at the Granada, featuring the Texas Tornados and more.
  Other performers this year are Anthony Ray Wright, Bachaco, Butch Hancock, Chubby Knuckle Choir, Colin Gilmore, Colton O’Neill, Dan Dayer, David Garza, Doodlin’ Hogwallops, Doug Moreland, Doug Strahan & the Good Neighbors, El Tule, Elsie Davis, Eve and the Exiles, Fingerpistol, Groupo Alegre, Grupo Fantasma, Jay Boy Adams & Zenobia, Joe King Carrasco, Jonathan Tyler, La Tampiquena, Maddison Livingston, Midland, Phillip Q. Morrow, Primo Carrasco & David Beebe, Sarah Jaffe, Shinyribs, Soul Track Mind, Sounds Del Mar, Starmother, Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines, The Os, The Midnight Stroll featuring Aaron Behrans from Ghostland Observatory, Two Tons of Steel and William Clark Green.

Music series

Tailgate 2015 — The annual outdoor concert series in Alamogordo, N.M., raises funds for the Flickinger Center. Concerts begin at 8 p.m., unless listed otherwise, on various Saturdays throughout the summer in the upper parking lot at the New Mexico Museum of Space History. Patrons should bring their own food, lawn chair and beverages. Gates open 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Season spaces are $180 (often sellout early) Information: (575) 437-2202. Online reservations at flickingercenter.com.
  Single event tickets available beginning June 1 for $45.
June 27: Nosotros, salsa, jazz and cumbia
July 11: Gleewood, folk/rock
July 25: Big Band on the Rio Grande. 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 8: Rockabilly Strangers
Aug. 22: Fungi Mungle, award-winning ‘70s style ensemble.

Pic Quick Music in the Park — The Las Cruces summer concert series are 7 p.m. 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.
June 28: Suavecito (New Mexico music) and Gasoline Alley (Rock & Roll), at Young Park 1905 E. Nevada Ave.
  No concerts weekend of July 4.
July 12: The JDS (Funk/Soul) at Apodaca Park, 801 E. Madrid
July 19: Border Jazz Orchestra on Main Street in historic Downtown.
July 26: Mad Mozelle (Rockabilly/Blues) and Ardk (Rock & Roll), at Apodaca Park.
Aug. 2: Steve Smith & Hard Road (Bluegrass) and Bob Einweck (Folk) at Young Park.

Outlet Shoppes’ Summer Concert Series — Outlet Shoppes at El Paso, 7051 S. Desert in Canutillo, (off I-10 at Trans Mountain exit) host free weekly live music events 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, through July 28 in the fountain area. Information: 877-3208, theoutletshoppesatelpaso.com or on Facebook.

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 Aug. 26. 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.
July 1: Aaron Einhouse
July 8: The Nightowls
July 15: Bri Bagwell
July 22: Shane Smith and The Saints
July 29: Joe Barron Band

‘La Parada’ — The monthly grassroots event celebrating local culture and lifestyles is 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, July 3, at 501 Bar and Bistro at the San Carlos Building, 501 Texas. One dollar tacos and margaritas 5 to 8 p.m. Admission is free before 8 p.m.; $5 after 8 p.m., ages 18 and older welcome. Information: 351-6023 or on Facebook at laparadaep.
  This month’s performers are Great Shapes, Decade Of The Dead Arcade, Mr. Crazy, One Man Jazz, JJ Nuñez, and live art with Jeremiah “Gems” Navarro and the Punk Rock Flea Market.

Summer Concerts — El Paso Parks and Recreation’s free outdoor music concerts are 7 p.m. selected Saturdays at various city parks. Bring chairs and picnic. No alcohol or glass-bottled beverages permitted. Leashed, well-behaved dogs welcome. Information: elpasotexas.gov/parks.
July 4: Everyday People (rhythm and blues) at Blackie Chesher Park, 9143 Escobar
Aug. 1: Billy Townes Band (jazz) at Memorial Park, 3100 Copper
Aug. 15: The Prime Band (classic rock)at Ysleta Park, 9068 Socorro
Aug. 29: Azucar (salsa) Vista del Valle Park, 1280 Hawkins.

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.
July 5: Dusty Low
July 19: James Springer
Aug. 2: Julio Ortiz.
Aug. 16: Dan Lambert and Double Drum Trio.

‘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)
July 7: Storyteller Grits Wrangler. Wrangler classifies himself as a “Reciter of Poetry,” having memorized over 120 poems, from cowboy to classical to children’s verses.
July 21:
Border Avenue, country music group recently nominated in the Country Music category at the New Mexico Music Awards for their first, self-titled album.

Mesilla Valley Jazz and Blues Society — The society presents the No Reservations Jazz Band as part of its monthly concert series at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 19, 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 band consists of Colin McAllister on vibraphone, Alan Rodriguez on B3 Organ, Derrick Lee on rums and featuring Shaun Mahoney on guitar. All members are music educators in the Las Cruces and El Paso area.

Sunset Sounds Concert Series — Free music is 7 to 9 p.m. Saturdays through July 25 at The Fountains at Farah Promenade Amphitheater, 8889 Gateway West. Information/schedule: 225-3600 or fountainsatfarah.com.

Mesa Music Hall — 4151 N. Mesa. Concerts are all ages shows, unless listed otherwise. Tickets for many performances available on eventfull.com or holdmyticket.com. Information: 599-8585 or on Facebook.
• I The Mighty — The post-hardcore and performs at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18, with Hail The Sun and Too Close to Tough. Tickets: $12.
• Feud of Temptation — The new age metal band performs at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23.

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.

Sunland Winery — 1769 Victory Lane in Sunland Park, N.M. New hours are 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday. 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 Lela Leadsman, plus 8 p.m. Thursdays with Leadsman 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.
June 27: Kobe Wetzel
July 3: Group de la Paz
July 10: Mr. Sip
July 11: Doug Strachan
July 17: Bart Crow with guest Silo Road
  The Viva Big Bend Music Festival is July 23-26. See separate listing.
  Drive Big Bend is July 30-Aug. 1.

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; 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.
June 24-27: Hypnotist The Sandman (extreme adult show on June 28).
July 8-12: Elliott Threatt with host Nico Adjemain
July 15-19: Rob Little

Border Beats

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.
       — Randy Limbird

“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.
       — Randy Limbird

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.
— Randy Limbird  

“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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