Music and Comedy Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns
Community Christmas Sing-Along Local musicians and singers will lead a community holiday sing-along at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri. Musicians include Craig Russell, piano, and his wife, Nadia Russell, violin. The event also features the theater’s piano, formerly owned by Liberace, which was donated by Jack Stewart. Admission is free. Information: 525-2235.
Gene Keller CD release Gene Keller will release his Christmas CD, “Hug A Bum (Don’t Say Bah Humbug)” 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at El Paso Public Library’s Maud Sullivan Gallery, 501 N. Oregon. The CD contains song written from 1992 to 2012. Accompanying Keller on several tracks is Jorge Guzman, accordion and Hal Marcus, percussion. The majority of the tunes are performed solo, with Keller on guitar, harmonica, vocals and harmony. Admission is free. Information: 584-7823.
Mesilla Valley Jazz and Blues Society The society presents the Mesilla Valley Swing Band as part of its monthly concert series at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo in Las Cruces. The music begins immediately after a short business meeting. Admission: $8 ($5 members; $1 students with ID). Information: Bob Burns, (575) 525-9333, email@example.com or mvjazzblues.net.
The next concert is Jan. 19 featuring Delta & Piedmont Blues with Tina and Marc Schwartz.
NMSU Department of Music Recitals are in the Atkinson Music Recital Hall at NMSU. Showtime for most events it 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise listed. Information: (575) 646-2421 or nmsu.edu/~music/.
• Faculty Recital Series featuring Katie Brennan, bassoon is Sunday, Dec. 1.
• Double Reeds Studio Recital is 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6.
• The NMSU Combined Choirs perform “Gaudete” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6-7.
• Honors Recital is Sunday, Dec. 8.
• Graduate recital of Eric Rangel, percussion, is 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9.
• Las Cruces High School Orchestra performs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11.
• Mayfield High School Orchestra performs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12.
• Mesilla Valley Concert Band performs at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.
EPCC Fall Music Showcase El Paso Community College hosts its student showcase at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at the Transmountain Theatre, 6675 N. Desert, featuring Mariachi Real de El Paso led by Anji Morgan-Thornton, EPCC Jazz Ensembles led by Ruben Gutierrez, EPCC Chorus led by William McMillan and EPCC Orchestra led by Jeffrey J. Meyer. Master of Ceremonies is Armin Harrison. Admission: $3. Information: 877-1700.
Howling Coyote Coffeehouse The open mic event is 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, 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.
For the December event, Performers are asked to perform something in the holiday spirit, if possible.
‘La Parada’ The indoor/outdoor monthly music series is 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, 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 (Dec. 6) 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.
KC Turner The singer/songwriter performs an acoustic concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at High Desert Brewing Co., 1201 West Hadley in Las Cruces. In addition to his performances, Turner is known as San Francisco’s premier promoter of top-flight national and local musicians, at house concerts and at some of the most prominent venues in the Bay Area. Admission is free. Information: (575) 525-6752 or highdesertbrewingco.com.
Megadeth The Metal legends perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Socorro Entertainment Center, 11200 Santos Sanchez (off Socorro Road, 4.5 miles southeast of Loop 375). Admission is free ($10 17 and younger). Information: 860-7777 or speakingrockentertainment.com.
Billy Townes CD release Rio Grande Cancer Foundation will host a CD release for “Comes in All Colors,” by recording artist Patty Tiscareño with jazz Billy Townes at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, at The Greenery, 750 Sunland Park (in Sunland Park Mall). The CD is a collection of jazz standards dedicated to cancer patients and their families. Information: 562-7660 or shaderecords.com.
Alfresco! Fridays applications Applications from musicians are now being accepted through the beginning of January for the 2014 Season of thee free concert series Alfresco! Fridays, which takes place Friday evenings in Downtown El Paso on Arts Festival Plaza, during the summer months. The series features Salsa, Cumbia, Reggae, Classic Rock and other popular music genres. Applications available online at AlfrescoFridays.com. Information: 534-0609.
Speaking Rock Entertainment Center 125 S. Pueblo Rd. Information: 860-7777 or speakingrockentertainment.com. Live music nightly. The center hosts tribute bands of various genres each Thursday. Information: 860-7777 or speakingrockentertainmentcenter.com.
Rocker Eddie Money headlines the New Year’s Eve concert Tuesday, Dec. 31. Showtime to be announced. Admission is free.
Hard Road Trio Bluegrass artist Steve Smith and his band perform a house concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Rio Grande Information/location: email@example.com.
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.
• Friday, Nov. 29: Julio Ortiz
• Dec. 8: Dusty Low
• Dec. 29: Julio Ortiz.
Ballroom Marfa B108 E. San Antonio, Marfa. Information: (432) 729-3600 or ballroommarfa.org.
• Julianna Barwick The singer/songwriter performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the Highland Annex. Admission: $5 at the door.
• Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler The Philadelphia harpist and the synth player perform a live score with a film screening at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30, as part of the 5th annual New Year’s film program. Admission is free.
Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino 1249 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.
Wednesday Music Café 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.
Railroad Blues 504 W. Holland, Alpine, Texas. Most performances begin at 10 p.m. Admission: $8, unless otherwise listed. Information: (432) 837-3103 or railroadblues.com.
• Friday, Nov. 29: Tessy Lou and the Shotgun Stars, alt-country.
• Thursday, Dec. 5: Josh Grider.
• Tuesday, Dec. 31: The Damn Torpedoes. Tickets: $15; free New Year’s champagne toast at midnight.
Padre’s Marfa 209 W. El Paso Street in Marfa, Texas. Admission is free, unless otherwise listed. Information: 432-729-4425 or padresmarfa.com.
• Thursday, Dec. 5: Garage Voice.
• Tuesday, Dec. 10: Texas guitar legend Ian Moore. Tickets: $12.
• Saturday, Dec. 14: Frankie Lee and Tara Fox.
• Wednesday, Dec. 18: K. Phillips and Little Brave
A New Year’s Eve Party with Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Colin Gilmore is Tuesday, Dec. 31. Tickets: $25.
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.
Border Chorders The El Paso men’s barbershop and a cappella group rehearses at 7:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays at University Presbyterian Church, 244 N. Resler. Director is Anthony Bartholomew. Singers in all male vocal ranges welcome. Information: Gayle Hageman 822-3000 or barbershop.org.
The Border Chorders are the El Paso chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society and were established in 1947. Prior choral singing experience and voice lessons are not required.
El Paso Comic Strip 1201 Airway. Shows are at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8:30 and 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Reserved tickets vary; available at ticketweb.com. Information/reservations: 779-LAFF (5233) or laff2nite.com.
• Dec. 4-8: DJ Cooch with feature act Ralph Figueroa
• Dec. 11-15: Elliott Threatt
• Dec. 18-21: Hypnotist The Sandman. Xtreme adult show is Dec. 22.
• Dec. 26-29: The Greg Wilson
The annual New Year’s Eve show and party is Tuesday, Dec. 31.
Comedy Nights The Percolator, 217 N. Stanton, hosts comedy open mic events 8 to 11 p.m. every Tuesday. Information: 351-4377 or on facebook (The Percolator).
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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