October 2014

Music and Comedy

BORDER BEATS (Local CDs)

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns


Trans-Pecos Gathering of Music + Love — El Cosmico vintage trailer lodge at 802 S. Highland in Marfa, Texas, hosts the 8th annual music gathering Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 25-28, with live music, sandlot baseball, camping arts and crafts, vendors, workshops and other activities. Music is 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday, and 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. Tickets: $140 three-night pass; $195 with overnight camping. Information: (432) 729-1950 or elcosmico.com.
  Thursday’s bands: Heartless Bastards, Bill Callahan, Tift Merritt, Gaby Moreno and Mother Falcon.
  Friday’s bands: Old 97s, Ben Kweller, John Doe, Elizabeth Cook and Ross Cashiola.
  Saturday’s bands: Deer Tick, Robert Ellis, Girl in A Coma, Tina Schlieske, Meshell N’degeocello, David Garza, Adrian Quesada and friends.

‘La Parada’ — The indoor/outdoor monthly music series is 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, 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. October features Bocafloja, Sonido Cachimbo, DJ Dairy Aire, Rob Bas and System A, and live art by Arturo Aguirre.

Mesilla Jazz Happening — The 14th annual event is 6-9 p.m. Friday, 1-5 p.m. Saturday and 2-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3-5. This year’s event celebrates La Posta’s 75th anniversary. Bring a lawn chair. Information: Bob Burns, (575) 640-8752 or mvjbpub@comcast.net.
  Friday’s performances are throughout Mesilla:
• Ruben Guiterrez Trio at La Posta de Mesilla.
• The RG Trio at Emilia’s on the Plaza
• Just Friends Quartet at The Bean
• Jim Helder Trio at Double Eagle
• Pancho Romero Trio at Josefina’s
• Border Trio with Roman Chip at St. Clair Winery & Bistro
• Derrick Lee Trio at Café de Mesilla
  Saturday’s and Sunday’s performances are at the historic Mesilla Plaza. Bring a lawn chair.
  Saturday’s bands:
• 1 p.m. — Candice Reyes Quintet
• 2:30 p.m. — Big Band on the Rio Grande
• 3:45 p.m. — El Paso Jazz Quartet
  Sunday’s bands:
• 2 p.m. — Fernie Lechuga Latin Jazz
• 3:30 p.m. — Dave Borrego Quartet
• 5 p.m. — Jazz Unlimited
  Live music is 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, throughout Mesilla. Bands include:

NM State Championship Fiddle Contest — The New Mexico Old Time Fiddlers Association hosts its 42nd annual contest Oct. 3-5 at the Truth or Consequences Civic Center’s Ralph Edwards Auditorium, 400 W. Fourth. Admission: $5 per day, plus $5 per dance. Information: (575) 297-4125 or nmofta.org.
  Friday’s jam sessions and Saturday contests are 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. with dances 7 to 9 p.m. both nights.

Doug Adamz — The guitarist, singer, songwriter of Light Rain returns to his hometown to perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, at Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso, 4425 Byron, with special guest Gene Keller. Admission: $10. Information: 562-4001 or uuelpaso.org.
  Adamz has been called a pioneer of “New Age” and ““World Beat” genres. He will be promoting his new album, “National Steel,” which includes two duets with Peter Rowan.
  Adamz has recorded five albums of original, instrumental music and three albums of his songs. His compositions have been used by the Joffrey and other ballet companies, featured in a film by Robert Altman (“The Company”), heard in a PBS documentary, and in two Spanish television series. The Kronos Quartet commissioned him to write several short pieces, and he has performed with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Joan Baez, and many finger-style luminaries like Stevie Coyle and Doug Young, as well as opening for several others.

‘Dude of the Dead’ Music Festival — The festival, which mashes Día de los Muertos rituals with live music and camping, is Friday through Sunday, Oct. 24-26, at Presidio Activity Center, 1400 O’Reilly in Presidio, Texas. Cost: $10 (free for ages 13 and younger). Information: dudeofthedead.net.

Border Legends Concert — The 6th annual concert featuring several of El Paso area’s well-loved and established performers 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at El Maida Shrine Auditorium, 6331 Alabama. Doors open at 3 p.m. Proceeds benefit El Maida Shrine General Fund. Tickets: $20. Available at the door or in advance at El Maida Shrine or All That Music. Information: 562-1444, 820-8002 or borderlegends.net.
  This year’s hosts are Rick Kern, Monica Gomez, “Sarge” Mike Preston and Rod Crosby. Performers are PT & The Cruisers, The Henchmen, Route 77, Tim Jordan and Black Wolf Moon, Twisted Hams, Rod Crosby and the Intruders, Jerry Morin and Cuervo, and Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs.

‘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.
Sept. 30: Alison Reynolds and Deborah Kuhn, pop, rock and folk.
Oct. 28: Sue Caldwell, accompanied by blues-based rock band Flat Blak.

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.

High Noon Music Series — UTEP’s free weekly outdoor brown-bag concert 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.
Oct. 1: Biscuit Roller, rock n’ roll
Oct. 8: Homecoming Lyp-Sync contest
Oct. 15: If We Were Turtles, alternative rock
Oct. 22: Last Night’s Circus, alternative indie pop
Nov. 5: Bumpstreet Fonanza, fusion
Nov. 11: 1st Armored Division Band.
  A Halloween Costume Contest is Friday, Oct. 31.

Howling Coyote Coffeehouse — The open mic event is 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, 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 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.

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.
  A special performance with musician Claudia Casillas is 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. Call for details.

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.

Mariachi Paso del Norte — The mariachi specializing in “Musica, Cultura y Tradicion” performs 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays at Rosa’s Cantina, 3454 Doniphan. Information: 777-0047.

Iron Horse Saloon jam sessions - 4930 Hondo Pass.
• BBQ Blues Band hosts free open blues jam sessions 7 to 10 p.m. every Thursday. Musicians should bring their own amps and musical instruments; PA provided. Information: 244-0758 or on Facebook at bbqblues.
• Full Circle and Blackjack hosts free jam sessions 8 to 11:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. All styles of music welcome. Small amp, bass amp and drums PA provided. Information: 751-6064 or on Facebook at Full Circle El Paso Texas.

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.

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.

Railroad Blues — 504 W. Holland, Alpine, Texas. Most performances begin at 9 p.m. Admission varies Information: (432) 837-3103 or railroadblues.com.
• Saturday, Sept. 27: Doug Strahan and the Good Neighbors
• Friday, Oct. 3: The Shades
• Friday, Oct. 10: Moot Davis
• Saturday, Oct. 18: Devils Hollos
• Friday, Oct. 24: Texas Renegade
• Saturday, Oct. 25: Zombie Pub Crawl
• Friday, Oct. 31: Slow Down Summer (part of the 19th annual Halloween Bash)
• Saturday, Nov. 8: Chuco Soul Project.

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.
• Caroline Rose — The singer/songwriter performs her blend of rockabilly, country and blues Friday, Oct. 3.
• Rocco DeLuca — The Californian indie rock musician performs Monday, Oct. 6.
• Clarke and the Himselfs — The garage band from Boise, Idaho performs Wednesday Oct. 8.

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.
• Saturday, Oct. 4: The Blan Scott Band, 9:30 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 10: Migrant Kids (8 p.m.) and Sphynx (10 p.m.)
• Friday, Oct. 24: Hogan Sullivan, 9:30 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 31: Jon Hogan and Maria Moss, 9 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 7: Banshee Bones, 10 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 14: Gemma Ray, 9:30 p.m.
• Wednesday, Nov. 19: Water Liars, 9:30 p.m.

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.


Comedy

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.
  Special events:
Sept. 25-27: Pablo Francisco. Tickets: $22.50 Thursday and Friday/Saturday late show; $27.50 Friday/Saturday early show.
• Sunday, Sept. 28: One Night Only event: Laugh Out Loud Comedy Tour starring Trump and Chingo Bling.
Oct. 8: One Night Only event with Doug Stanhope. Tickets: $27.
Oct. 22-25: Latino King of Comedy Paul Rodriguez. Showtime is 8 p.m. nightly, plus additional late shows ate 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets: $22.50 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; $27.50 Friday and Saturday.
Nov. 6-7: Jay Mohr. Tickets: $30.
Nov. 8-9: “Wasurama” Spanish language comedy tour starring Rene Franco. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, with an English language performance 10:45 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $14.50.
Dec. 4-6: Carlos Mencia. Tickets: $27.05 Thursday; $32.50 Friday/Saturday early show; $22.50 Friday/Saturday late show.

Bill Engvall — The Blue Collar Comic performs 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, N.M. Age 21 and older admitted. Tickets: $25-$65 (Ticketmaster). Information: 1-877-277-5677 or innofthemountaingods.com.

The Capitol Steps — Impact|Programs of Excellence presents return of the hilarious, politically incorrect, musical parody comedy at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, at Coronado High School’s Lee Ross Capshaw Auditorium. Tickets: $15, $25, $35 and $50; available through Impact or at the door. Information: 545-5068 or impactprogramsofexcellence.com.

Paul Rodriguez — The Latino stand-up comic, actor and television producer performs at Oct. 22-25 at El Paso Comic Strip, 1201 Airway. Showtime is 8 p.m. nightly, plus additional late shows 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets: $22.50 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; $27.50 Friday and Saturday; available at ticketweb.com. Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233) or laff2nite.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.

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.

The Second City — Dona Ana Arts Council presents the world famous comedy troupe’s 55th Anniversary tour at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, at Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. Tickets: $30. Information: (575) 523-6403 or RioGrandeTheatre.com.
  The troupe will celebrate their anniversary with classic sketches made famous by such names as John Belushi, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Gilda Radner, along with new satire stripped from today’s headlines and improvisation.


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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