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Back Issues
2012 - Summer Issue
Vida Buena
Live Performances
Article: Jessica Muncrief
Photos: Bill Faulkner, Russell              Bamert, Joe Burgess
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The Southwest region is rich with artists of all kinds, eager to share stories and histories that have purpose and meaning. So it should come as no surprise that the blues have a strong presence here. Whether you are a hardcore blues fan raised on Muddy Waters and Etta James or just an appreciator of live music and good times, there are events and concerts happening all year round in the region. From larger cities like El Paso and Las Cruces to smaller towns like Ruidoso and Silver City, the blues is alive and well in the borderland!

El Paso
    "The blues tells a story.
Every line of the blues
has a meaning."

– John Lee Hooker
The El Paso area is holding its own these days in live entertainment, and blues events are no exception. The Plaza Theatre has hosted blues legend B.B. King several times and the La Viña Winery just outside of Sunland Park features a full day of live blues music at their Spring Wine Festival in April.

If you really want to be in the know on all the local blues events, you have to hook up with the El Paso Blues Society, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving blues music in the area. They host a number of concerts throughout the year, most of which take place at local bars and restaurants, like Kings X and The Riviera. In 2011, they held the first of their annual "A Blue Christmas" event. This 10-hour day, featuring artists like Guitar Slim, Eddie and the Impacts, Geronimo Black and the Kat Crosby Band, capped off with a rowdy jam session.

The EP Blues Society also hosted a "Blues and BBQ" festival in Timberon, NM this summer, another event they hope to make an annual occurrence. Future plans for the year include "Blues in a Box" in September and the 2nd Annual "A Blue Christmas". David Herbertson, society president, says "There are a lot of really good blues musicians in the area and we are proud to bring them together. One of our long-term goals is to create an annual blues festival right here in El Paso."

Las Cruces
The blues have also infiltrated the Las Cruces scene with events and concerts being held all year round. In April, St. Clair Winery and Bistro held a 3-day "Barrels and Blues" event. The lineup included The Hillrise Gamblers, The 24/7 Blues Band, CW Ayon, and Yvonne Brooks. Attendees were also treated to wine tastings straight from the barrel, food specials, reserved patio seating at the restaurant, and a souvenir wine glass. St. Clair has been building a solid reputation recently for some great outdoor events and live concerts, so we can be sure to see more fantastic musical events like "Barrels and Blues".

You can thank the Mesilla Valley Blues and Jazz Society for keeping the blues alive and well in the city for several years now. Since their establishment in 2006, they have strived "to promote the appreciation of jazz and blues art forms, and to create increased opportunities for established and aspiring musicians." The Society's monthly meetings are held the third Sunday of every month and always include live music, whether that be featured guest bands or just a rousing jam session that everyone can join in on. Plus, they meet at fun locations, like Sparky's in nearby Hatch, another venue known for hosting some great blues acts and jam sessions. Artists that have recently played at the funky restaurant include the Hard Knock Blues Band, 24/7 Blues Band, and the Desperados.

Silver City
Silver City hosted their annual Blues Festival over Memorial Day weekend for the 17th year. Not only is the event free, but it also boasts an impressive list of acts. This year's line-up included blues names such as Big Daddy D and the Dynamites, Jason Elmore and the Hoodoo Witch, Trampled Under Foot, and Rosy Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys. Held outdoors in Silver City's Gough Park, this high-energy festival also has food vendors, craft booths and a beer garden. For those that like to keep the party going, there are also follow-up sessions at the Buffalo Dance Hall in the downtown historic area.

Another popular blues event takes place in charming Ruidoso, NM. The "Mountain of Blues" festival and beerfest celebrated its 15th year this past June. In addition to acts like Mark Kashmar, Hard Knock Blues Band, The Pleasure Pilots and The Kinsey Report, this fun-filled festival is also a beerfest with over 20 domestic and international varieties on tap.

As you can see, the blues has been making its mark in the borderland. From live bar concerts to huge outdoor festivals to jam sessions open to all, there is something for everyone. If you're looking for good times and great music, be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for more of the many great blues events coming our way. ///
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