El Paso has a couple of unique music venues that share the same goal—bringing more live music to the city.
“We know that El Paso has a lot of potential. We have a lot of talented people here and we just wanted to showcase that,” said Mia Grajeda who opened Whole Lotta Denim in October 2022 along with her sisters Sierra and Savannah.
Lowbrow Palace also opened its new location last fall at 1006 Texas. The original venue on on Robinson near the UTEP campus was a small, dark hole-in-the-wall with a capacity of 300. The new venue has a capacity of 450 people indoors and 1,500 outside. It is an industrial space with neon lights.
Christian Yanez, the musical talent director, said they were looking forward to future events they have planned. Lowbrow has had several performances from both well-known and underground artists, like Rivers Ventura and The Vacations. The opening of their new location featured a performance from popular indie band, Modest Mouse. The show was sold out.
“We want to bring bigger artists for El Paso to enjoy,” Yanez said. “We have a bigger, new improved, spot that will hopefully accommodate bigger music artists.”
Doug Pullen, film festival director for the El Paso Community Foundation was previously an entertainment reporter for the El Paso times. He said smaller music venues like these provide a chance for a more intimate show with the artist and the crowd.
“You’ve got to have that mid-sized venue, not just for the national acts that come through but for those local acts as well,” Pullen said. “Ideally, you’re trying to encourage local talent and at the same time, you’re bringing in artists that people want to see.”
The Grajeda sisters say their venue, Whole Lotta Denim, is sometimes confused as a rock band, but they aren’t looking to perform music. Instead, they run the all-ages music venue featuring local and out of town artists alike.
The venue—with its grunge-styled paintings and vinyl record covers aligned on the wall—can hold about 400 people including the outside patio space, Mia Grajeda said. The space is at 11504 Rebel on the far east side in a warehouse that was previously used as a storage space for auto parts. Aside from the venue, the Grajedas work together at another family business—an auto repair shop owned by their father.
Whole Lotta Denim wasn’t originally intended to be used as a space to host live music. The name for their business came during the times of COVID-19 when the sisters developed a knack for making jewelry and painting denim during their time in isolation. They began to post their products on Instagram and received messages about potential customers.
“When we wanted to open our boutique, our parents were like, ‘OK, if you can just clean this out, it’s yours,’ so that’s what we did,” Savannah said. “We decorated it—got our records and all that—and transformed it into a boutique.”
They spent a year of painting, cross-stitching, and jewelry making when the three sisters decided that the boutique just wasn’t their calling. When asked if they would ever revisit the idea of re-opening the boutique as part of Whole Lotta Denim, it was a very prominent, “No!” from all three sisters.
“It’s just something that we want to have as part of the past, you know. We enjoyed more working with the artists and promoting and marketing, so we decided to turn this place into a venue for all ages,” Sierra Mia Grajeda said.
Whole Lotta Denim officially opened its doors as a music venue in October 2023 with a performance by California band Sitting on Stacy. Local rock band, Moth, opened for them.
Since their opening, Whole Lotta Denim has been able to turn a profit from door sales.
“We’re actually booked through the rest of this year,” Mia Grajeda said. “We have managers reaching out to us about getting their artist to come and perform. We’re currently working to get some bigger named artists to play at Whole Lotta Denim.”