July 2014

Music and Comedy


Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Melodies at the Park — El Paso Parks and Recreation’s free outdoor music concerts are 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. selected Sundays at various city parks. Information: 544-0753, 252-9031 or elpasotexas.gov/parks.
June 29: Que Buena Night at Pavo Real Park, 9301 Alameda
July 6: Everyday People at Eastwood Park, 3001 Parkwood
July 13: Everyday People at Veterans Park, 5301 Salem
July 27: Locomotion at Marty Robbins Park, 11620 Vista Del Sol
Aug. 3: Magnum Blue at Grandview Park, 3200 Jefferson
Aug. 10: Chuco Soul Project at Armijo Park, 710 E. Seventh.

‘La Parada’ — The indoor/outdoor monthly music series is 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 4, 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.
  July’s event features Killah Priest of Wu-Tang Clang, Uncle Eloroy, The Kilohertz, One Man Jazz and Severe. Live art by Golden Goose and the Visionaries.

‘Red, White, & Boobs’ Burlesque and Variety Show — Lotus Blossoms Burlesque hosts the sexy tribute to the military troops 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, July 5, at Lotus Nightclub, 201 N. Stanton, with special guest performers from Tucson, Arizona, Albuquerque and San Antonio. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission (ages 18 and older welcome): $10; free for active duty military with ID. Information: 777-1025 lotusblossomsburlesque.com.

Bluegrass Festival — The 19th annual all-day festival begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 19, 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 or weednm.org.
  Open mic is 8 to 8:45 a.m. with guest bands beginning at 9 a.m. Featured bands are Simple Gifts, Texas Country, Eastside Ramblers, Bost Family Traditions, Vintage, Blue Sky Country and Heartland.
  A Bluegrass gospel devotional service is 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 20. 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.

An Evening with Billy Townes — The local jazz legend performs 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at the Crossland Gallery, 500 W. Paisano, benefiting Independent Film. Admission: $30 (free CD to first 50 guests). Information: 534-7377 or office@elpasoartassociation.com.

‘Concierto de las Americas’ — The Juarez-based musicians present a journey through the Golden Era of Rock and Roll in “Let The Good Times Roll: Part 4” 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at the Chamizal National Memorial, 800 S. San Marcial, featuring songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Presented by El Paso Community College’s Senior Adult Program and Que Bonita Familia. Admission: $8. Tickets/information: 831-7801.

‘Viva Big Bend’ Music Festival — “Texas Music” Magazine hosts the 3rd annual music fest and conference Thursday through Sunday, July 24-27, in Marfa, Alpine, Fort Davis and Marathon. About 50 music acts from across the country (representing a wide variety of styles including alternative, Americana, folk, Latin, pop and rock) are expected to be showcased in at least six venues during the first year. Tickets: $60 (VIP tickets for Granada Theatre events Friday and Saturday $35 per day; USP Hall tickets for Saturday: $30); available in advance at the Holland Hotel or online at vivabigbend.com.
  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, and Audrey Tyrone Kelly Outdoor Theater in Fort Davis.
  Artists scheduled include: Anthony Ray Wright, Billy Joe Shaver, Bob Livingston, Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay, Butch Hancock, Carlos Maxwell, Chris Watson Band, Colin Gilmore & Nicolette Good, Curtis Grimes, DD Dagger, Doodlin’ Hogwallops, Doug Moreland, Doug Strahan & the Good Neighbors,             El Tule, Elizabeth McQueen, Graham Wilkinson, Henry and the Invisibles, Holiday Mountain, Jay Boy Adams & Zenobia, Joe King Carrasco, Kelly Mickwee, La Tampiquena, Los Pinches Gringos, Max Johnston, Primo Carrasco & David Beebe, Reckless Kelly, Rosie and The Ramblers, Shelley King Band, Soul Track Mind, Sour Bridges, Suzanna Choffel, Tejas Brothers, Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines, Tessy Lou & The Shotgun Stars, Texas Tornados, Texas Tycoons, The Peterson Brothers, Statesboro Revue, The Washers, Whiskey Shivers, Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom, and Walt Wilkins.
  Free daytime shows at the Holland Hotel in Alpine include Al Staehely & Freddie Steady Krc, Border Blues, Christa Russell, Drew Kennedy, Grupo Alegra, Kevin Carroll, Kevin McKinney, Luke Olson, Matt Skinner, Philip Q. Morrow and Robyn Beck.
  Additional shows at Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa include Emilie Clepper, Mike and the Moonpies and The Os.

An Evening with PT & the Cruisers — The local vocal band’s dinner and show is Saturday, July 26, at Great American Land and Cattle Co. Steakburger, 9800 Gateway North. Dinner served at 6 p.m. followed by show at 8 p.m. Cost: $36; early reservations encouraged. Information: 637-7060.

Last Mic Standing — Fountains at Farah, 8889 Gateway West, hosts the open mic music event 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 22. Winner receives $1,500 in prizes, including a recording session at Sonic Ranch, a photo shoot, and a mall gift card. Participation is free. Information: 225-3600 or contest@fountainsatfarah.com.
  Performers can pick up an application form in Suite 210 at The Fountains at Farah (between Massage Envy and Barnes and Noble) or fill out application online at fountainsatfarah.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. Admission is free. Information: (575) 523-6403 or riograndetheatre.com.
July 8: Dr. Floyd
Aug. 5: Joshua Saenz
Aug. 19: Danny Ruley.

Cool Canyon Nights — The summer series of free outdoor summer concerts are 7 p.m. Thursdays through July 24 at McKelligon Canyon, Amphitheatre. Patio entertainment begins at 6 p.m. Information: 544-9550 or coolcanyonnights.com.
June 26: Brown Betty (Classic Rock/80’s)
July 3: Billy Townes (Jazz)
July 10: Prime (‘80s)
July 17: Joe Barron Band (Texas Country/Rock)
July 24: Fungi Mungle (‘70s to ‘90s).

Alfresco! Fridays — The 12th season of free outdoor summer concerts are 6 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 19, at their new location at Convention Center Plaza. Presented by the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Centers and the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau, 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.
June 27: Sobredosis Del Sabor (salsa, cumbia)
July 11: Exito (Tejano)
July 18: Toll Booth Willie (ska, 80s, pop-rock)
July 25: Sha’Vonne (pop, R&B)
Aug. 1: The Birdogs (classic rock)
Aug. 8: Windy City (Chicago Tribute Band)
Aug. 25: Joe King Carrasco (Tex-Mex)
Aug. 22: Abe Mac Band (country)
Aug. 29: Fungi Mungle (70s)
Sept. 5: Prime 80s Xperience (retro)
Sept. 12: Troupe Sublime (old school funk)
Sept. 19: Azucar (Latin variety).

Tailgate 2014 — The annual outdoor concert series in Alamogordo, N.M., raises funds for the Flickinger Center. Concerts begin at 8 p.m. 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. Walk-up admission: $15 per couple. Season spaces are $180 (often sellout early) Information: (575) 437-2202. Online reservations at flickingercenter.com.
June 28: CW Ayon
July 12: 7th Avenue Band
July 26: NM Saxophone Quartet with Earl’s Quartet
Aug. 9: The Bobcats
Aug. 23: Fungi Mungle.

Music in the Park — The Las Cruces summer concert series is 6 p.m. Sundays during the summer months featuring both local and guest artists. No concert July 6. No pets allowed. Admission is free. Information: (575) 541-2550 or las-cruces.org.
June 29: Anthony and the Nitelighters and the Classic Mixx Band at Young Park, 1905 E. Nevada
July 13: The Sancho Kats and The Latin Funktion at Klein Park, 155 N. Mesquite.
July 20: Jennie Dale Lord, Apodaca Park, 801 E. Madrid
July 27: Genie & the Starliners and
Crystal Ship at Young Park.
  August concerts at Young Park:
Aug. 3: Eklektic Jazz Group Jazz El Paso, TX
Aug. 10: Steve Smith & Hard Road (bluegrass) and Swing Soleil
Aug. 17: Remember Then Oldies
Aug. 24 The Liars and Casual Friday Rock
Aug. 31: All That Jazz.

Music Under the Stars — The 31st 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 Aug. 11, at the Chamizal National Memorial amphitheater, 800 S. San Marcial. No concert July 6. Admission is free. Information: 212-1777 (MCAD), 532-7273 (Chamizal) or espinozac@elpasotexas.gov.
June 29: Son Ardiente (Latin)
July 13: Trailer Band (Country)
July 20: Los Lonely Boys (2005 Grammy Award-winning Texas rockers)
July 27: Sobredosis Del Sabor (Latin)
Aug. 3: Joshua Tree U2 Tribute Band
Aug. 10: Mariachi Son de Mexico.
  The Annual Fourth of July patriotic concert with El Paso Wind Symphony is 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 4, followed by fireworks.
  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, beverages, and alcoholic beverages will be for sale by the food vendors.

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 29 in the fountain area. Information: 877-3208 or theoutletshoppesatelpaso.com.
July 1: 3Ball Mty and Astro Dudes (pop, DJ)
July 8: Eclipse (rock)
July 15: Maddison Livingston (country)
July 22: Mariachi Paso del Norte and Banda Jerezana
July 29: Ribo Flavin (hip hop, variety).

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 30. 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 2: Dusty Low
July 9: Joe Barron Band
July 16: Jason Eady
July 23: Curtis Grimes
July 30: Shinyribs.

La Viña’s Music On the Patio — La Viña Winery in La Union, 4201 S. NM Highway 28, one mile north of Vinton Road, hosts live music 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on selected Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 7, featuring folk, country and rock ‘n’ roll from “Live By Request.” Picnics are allowed, but beverages must be purchased from the winery. Admission is free. Information: (575) 882-7632.
  Upcoming performances are July 13 and 20, and Aug. 3, 10, 24, and 31 and during the annual Fourth of July picnic Friday, July 4.

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. Information: 877-4544 or zinvalle.com.
July 6 and Aug. 31: Dusty Low
July 20: James Springer
Aug. 10: Julio Ortiz
Aug. 24: Dan Lambert Trio.

Ballroom Marfa — B108 E. San Antonio in Marfa, Texas. Information: (432) 729-3600. Tickets available online at ballroommarfa.org.
• Bonnie “Prince” Billy (actor Will Oldham) performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at Ballroom Marfa’s Crowley Theater, 106 San Antonio with opening act David Ferguson. Tickets: $10.
  Ballroom Marfa and El Paso Opera present “Vidas Perfectas,” the opera for television by Robert Ashley, will be presented in Spanish for stage and television, July 11-19, at various “on location” sites in Marfa, El Paso and Juarez. Directed by Alex Waterman. The final opera (in seven episodes) will be compiled and edited for television in the fall.

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.
• The 3rd annual ‘90s alternative Summerland Tour is 8 p.m. Sunday, July 13, featuring Everclear (“Santa Monica,” “Everything to Everyone”), Soul Asylum (“Runaway Train”), Eve 6 (“Inside Out,” “Think Twice”) and Spacehog (“In the Meantime”).
• Three Dog Night performs Saturday, July 19.
• Tonic performs Sunday, Aug. 24.

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.

BBQ Blues Band — The blues band hosts free open blues jam sessions 7 to 10 p.m. every Thursday, at Iron Horse Saloon, 4930 Hondo Pass. Musicians should bring their own amps and musical instruments; PA provided. Information: 244-0758 or on Facebook at bbqblues.

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.

Iron Horse Variety Music Jam — Full Circle and Blackjack hosts free jam sessions 8 to 11:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at Iron Horse Saloon, 4930 Hondo Pass. 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.

Howling Coyote Coffeehouse — The open mic event is 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, 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. There will be no event in July. Information: Bob Burns, (575) 525-9333 or bobandmelody@sbcglobal.net.
  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.

Friday at The Fire — Fort Bliss’s Freedom Crossing hosts free live music featuring local performers 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays, at the outdoor fireplace. Information: 564-5311 or freedomcrossingatfortbliss.com.

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino’s Franklin’s Lounge — 1200 Futurity Dr. (at Sunland Park Drive), Sunland Park, N.M. No cover. Information: (575) 874-5200.
  Live music is offered 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
  Live Mariachi is 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sundays followed by DJ music 6:30 to 10 p.m.
  Karaoke with DJ Frank L is 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursdays.

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.
• Thursday, June 26: You
• Thursday, July 3: Ash Borer and Hell
• Wednesday, July 23: Un Chen
  Marfa Live Arts presents Italy’s Kalweit and the Spokes at 10 p.m. Friday, June 27. The band has been compared to artists like PJ Harvey, Calexico and Gun Club.
  The Viva Big Bend Festival runs Thursday through Sunday, July 24-27 at Padre’s and several area venues. See separate listing

Railroad Blues — 504 W. Holland, Alpine, Texas. Most performances begin at 9 p.m. Admission varies Information: (432) 837-3103 or railroadblues.com.
• Friday, June 27: Dusty Low
• Saturday, June 28: The Birddogs
• Saturday, July 5: The Shades
• Friday, July 11: 7 Year Drought-Kurt
• Saturday, July 12: The Memphis Strange
• Friday, July 18: Zack Walther Band
• Saturday, July 19: Sorry About Your Sister
• Saturday, Aug. 9: Kevin Seale Band
• Friday, Aug. 22: Cooder Graw
  The Viva Big Bend Festival is July 24-26, at Railroad Blues and other area venues.

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.
June 25-29: Tres Leches Comedy Tour with Cleto Rodriguez, Danny Ingle and Roman Garcia
July 9-13: Brian Scolaro with feature act Joleen Lunzar
July 16-20: Steve Trevino, with Jesus Trejo and Kyle Ray.

Gabriel Iglesias — The “fluffy” comedian and regional favorite performs at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, at Socorro Entertainment Center, 11200 Santos Sanchez. Tickets: $25. Information: 790-4000 or speakingrockentertainment.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.

Border Beats

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.
       — 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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