Music and Comedy
Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns
‘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)
• March 31: Gold Hearted Crows, Western Folk-America Blues group.
• April 14: Alyssa Newton, 18-year-old singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
‘La Parada’ — The indoor/outdoor monthly music series is 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 3 and May 1, at the San Carlos Building, 501 Texas. Admission: $5, ages 18 and older welcome. Information: facebook.com/laparadaep
La Parada is an ongoing music, art and social party held the first Friday of the month.
Big Band on the Rio Grande — Mesilla Valley Jazz and Blues Society presents an evening of music from the heyday of the big bands at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, at the Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall. Tickets: $12 general admission; $6 student with valid ID/seniors 65 and older. Advance tickets on line at RioGrandeTheatre.com, White’s Music Box, Hubbard’s Music, Mesilla Valley Pro Music, the Rio Grande Theatre box office. Information: (575) 523-6403.
The Big Band on the Rio Grande consists of 16 members, directed by James Holder, and presents new big band compositions alongside the tried and true music from the ‘30s and ‘40s.
Howling Coyote Coffeehouse — The open mic event is 7 p.m. Friday, April 3, at Center for Spiritual Living, 575 N. Main, on Las Cruces Downtown Main Street. Signup begins at 6:30 p.m. The community event is on the First Fridays of the month. Free admission to participants and audience. Information: Bob Burns, (575) 525-9333 or email@example.com.
The “Howling Coyote” is open to acoustic musicians, poets, storytellers, and singer/songwriters for material that is family-friendly. Coffee, soft drinks and snacks available.
Steve Smith — The bluegrass musician performs at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 225 W. Griggs, in Las Cruces, as part of its Sunday Afternoon Series. Information: (575) 526-6689.
Inni Heart Dinner Shows — The restaurant (formerly La Tierra), 1731 Montana, offers a three-course meal followed by performance. Call for time and ticket information: 533-8890 or on Facebook.
Bud Sanders performs the “Ultimate Elvis Tribute” Saturday, April 11.
Mesilla Valley Jazz and Blues Society — The society presents Big Band on the Rio Grande as part of its monthly concert series at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 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). Information: Larry Brooks, (575) 640-8752 or mvjazzblues.net.
Big Band on the Rio Grande (BBRG) was established in 1989 as an offshoot of the Mesilla Valley Concert Band directed by Bill Clark. The present BBRG consists of 16 members.
Tumbleweed Saloon — The saloon at 1610 Sioux Street hosts live music Fridays. Free country Dance lesson every Wednesday. Information: 307-6276.
• March 27: Maddison Livingston
• April 3: Chris Baker
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 April 15- July 1. 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.
• April 15: Dusty Low
• April 22: The Trailerhead
• April 29: The O’s
• May 6: Radio La Chusma
Sunland Winery — ?1769 Victory Lane in Sunland Park, N.M. 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 Lala Ledezma, plus 8 p.m. Thursdays with Ledezma and Team Havana, and free Latin dance lessons. Free wine tastings.
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.
Speaking Rock Entertainment Center — 122 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.
Metal legends Krokus perform at 5 p.m. Monday, May 4. Admission is free.
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
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.
Railroad Blues — 504 W. Holland, Alpine, Texas. Most performances begin at 10 p.m. Admission varies. Information: (432) 837-3103 or railroadblues.com.
• March 27: Erick Willis
• April 3: No Dry Country
• April 11: Koe Wetzel and the Konvicts
• April 16: Soul Track Mind
• April 18: J-Flo and Crosstown
• April 25: Keven Seale Band
• May 1: Radio La Chusma
• May 7: Texas Renegade
• May 9: The Birddogs.
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.
• Audio/visual rock duo Darsombra performs Friday, April 10, with Technicolor Hearts.
• Guitarist Sir Richard Bishop performs Thursday, April 23.
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. Closed for Palm Sunday (March 29) and Easter (April 4). Tickets: $6 Thursday, $12 Friday and Saturday, $8 Sunday, unless listed otherwise; available at ticketweb.com. Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233) or laff2nite.com.
• March 25-28: Angel Salazar. Salazar’s performance is a mixture of street-smart ethnic wisecracks, risqué humor, physical comedy, and audience involvement. He is also an established actor, who has appeared in films such as “Scarface,” “Punchline,” “Carlito’s Way,” and “Where the Buffalo Roam.” Opening act to be announced.
• April 8-12: Eric “Smooth E” Schwartz. Behind Schwartz’s geeky facade lies a multidimensional showman whose creations have been seen on “The Tonight Show,” Showtime, E!, BET and more. Eric is the host of his own TV show, “On The Spot,” Feature at is Ryan Broems.
• April 15-19: Brian Scolaro. Scolaro has done stand up on “Late Nite with Conan O’Brien,” Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” “Comics Unleashed” and recently shot his half hour special “Comedy Central Presents: Brian Scolaro.” He is most famous for being Stuart on two seasons on FOX’s “Stacked,” as well as other TV roles. Feature act is Emily Galaiti with host Omar Tarango.
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.
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.
“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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