This border city’s recording industry reputation is growing

El Paso is currently home to number of recording studios and the past year was a good one for musical artists coming out of the city on the crossroads between music scenes in Austin and Los Angeles. Khalid has been the most successful of three fresh faces from El Paso that have reached the national stage. Elia Esparza landed a spot on The Voice in 2016, followed by Valerie Ponzio in the 2017 season. Beacon Hill Recording Studios

Alfredo Gonzalez is general manager and music producer at Beacon Hill Recording Studios, 6430 Gateway Blvd, where Khalid recorded his hit song “Location.” Gonzalez said the 3-year-old studio struggled at first, in part because El Paso didn’t have a large recording industry infrastructure like big cities.

Juarez celebra su primer Bazar Ambulante de Producción, Redes, Truques y Ventas

Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua – Por primera vez, se llevó a cabo en Ciudad Juárez hace unos meses El Primer Bazar Ambulante de Producción, Redes, Truques y Ventas, que atrajo más de 28 bandas locales, fotógrafos, ilustradores, programadores visuales y otros artistas locales para vender su mercancía al público. Antonio Saenz Facio, uno de los organizadores, dijo que el evento es una manera para que la comunidad de Juarez se de cuenta de que “en la tierrita sí se tiene mucha calidad. Hay que apoyar al talento local, como a los amigos/conocidos que emprenden su negocio, para que podamos crecer tal vez ya no a nivel local, si no, mas allá”. La organización del evento fue llevada a cabo por la organización sin fines de lucro llamada Alianza Fronteriza. Es una alianza de músicos fronterizos para crear una unión de músicos y darse a conocer en todo el país.

Local ska band Fixed Idea prepares for 25th anniversary bash in El Chuco

An El Paso Ska band called Fixed Idea is preparing for its 25-year anniversary celebration party which will be held at the Tricky Falls entertainment venue in August. In preparation for the celebration, the band has released a new music video and will soon be releasing a brand-new song. They will also be releasing two CDs, one of them is titled “25-to-life” and features 25 tracks to celebrate the group’s 25th anniversary. “We have just been really focusing, visualizing and working on these songs without any distraction,” said Pancho Mendoza, 41, the lead singer and original member of Fixed Idea. “It’s gotten us this far and this year we are celebrating 25 years with…

Las Caponeras dan tono feminil a música mariachi

EL PASO — Las siete mujeres bajan del escenario donde por mas de una hora llenaron de alegría el ambiente con canciones como “Volver Volver”, “Mariachi Loco”, entre otras, finalizando exitosamente una presentación mas del grupo al que pertenecen, Mariachi femenil Las Caponeras. Las Caponeras cuentan ya con 15 años llevando la música tradicional Mexicana a diferentes lugares de El Paso. “Es la primera vez que las escucho y me gustó mucho el show; me recordó mucho a mi México, y mas que es un mariachi femenil, me encanto porque no siempre tienen que ser solo hombres”, dijo Gloria Guzmán, después de presenciar la presentación del grupo en Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. Guzmán, residente de El Paso, quien lleva mas de 10 anos viviendo lejos de México, dijo sentirse feliz de ver que la igualdad de género también se refleja en la música, ya que el mariachi es comúnmente conformado por hombres. Por otro lado, Angélica Flores, una maestra paseña seguidora de Las Caponeras, ha tenido la oportunidad de escucharlas varias veces e inclusive las ha contratado para fiestas familiares.

UTEP music students capture classic Motown jam in video

Students  in UT El Paso’s Commercial Music Ensemble class capture their version of  the Motown hit “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” in video. The group is directed by Chris Reyman and Brian Downen, assistant professors with the UTEP Department of Music. The ensemble of music majors performed at several events this semester, including the grand opening for Centennial Plaza and the honors convocation reception.

Digital hip hop ‘BasedGod’ Lil B confuses critics while evolving the genre

To many hip hop listeners, Lil B can come off as an oddball. And with such a large discography and inconsistent rap-style, hip hop fans may be reluctant to take what the artist, called The BasedGod, has to say seriously. When I first heard Lil B, I thought he was hysterical. With “I’m Miley Cyrus” blasting out of my laptop speakers, all I could think was that there was no way a rapper could sound this bad on his own track and feel confident enough to release this! How can anybody listen to this guy?

Song inspires writer to search for nameless victims in ‘Deportees’ plane crash

EL PASO — Folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote a poem In 1948 about a plane crash that year in which 32 people lost their lives near Los Gatos Creek in the Diablo mountain range of California. The flight was carrying 28 migrant farmworkers who were being deported back to Mexico. Guthrie was disturbed by press accounts at the time that didn’t include the names of the passengers. The poem was eventually set to music and was popularized by Pete Seeger as “Deportees,” which included the haunting line: “to fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil, and be called by no name except “deportees.” Sixty-six years later, writer Tim Z. Hernandez has made it his mission to remember those whose lives were lost by finding out their names.

Grassroots Rios Online Radio to promote El Paso music talent

EL PASO — Beer bottles clink in the hands of burly men as ACDC pounds on the speakers. Under the sound of televisions playing football games, a faint chatter can be heard on the second floor of the Pershing Inn bar—“Welcome to Rios Online Radio…”
Since January 2013, Joseph Brooks and Gabriel Acuña, producers for Rios Online Radio, have met every Sunday at the Pershing Inn, 2909 Pershing Dr., to host a podcast aimed at promoting El Paso, its residents and the local music scene. Rios has produced about 40 shows in two seasons, under Chuco Talks, Rio Sports, and Rio Pod Co. “I used to do podcasts with my friends a couple years ago in my garage, using a cell phone in a can hanging in the middle of the room. We just shared it among friends,” Brooks said.

A petition for Justin Bieber’s deportation is ignored by the White House

El PASO — After three months and 273,968 signatures supporting a petition to deport Canadian pop musician, Justin Bieber, the official White House government website called “We the People” has ruled on the matter — Bieber will not be deported. Petitioners had argued that they were being wrongly represented in the world of popular culture by Bieber and would like to see the “dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug-abusing” singer deported and his green card revoked. The petitioners also said that Bieber is not only threatening the safety of our people but “he is also a terrible influence on our nation’s youth.” That’s why “they the people” would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society, the petition says. The White House didn’t make any specific comment about Bieber legal troubles, declaring: “Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t be commenting on this one.”The White House statement continues: “The We the People website terms of participation state that, ‘to avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition.’ So we’ll leave it to others to comment on Mr. Bieber’s case, but we’re glad you care about immigration issues.”
The controversial Bieber, 20, was arrested in earlier this year after he was caught drag racing by police in Miami with his father Jeremy Bieber and friends.

Danny Avila during his set at SCMF in Ascarate Park during Labor Day weekend. (Valeria Hernández/Borderzine.com)

Electronic music brings me happiness, but it also has a dark side

EL PASO ­– The beat was big and loud, echoing in my chest, and the flashing lights were like an array of Technicolor feeding the crowd’s hungry eyes. I looked around and I could almost see the pure joy exuding from everyone’s faces. Their ear-to-ear smiles said it all. In that huge sea of people dancing to Tiesto’s “Adagio for Strings,” under the Sun City’s starry sky, I was one with the crowd and it was perfect. Electronic dance music has been around since the mid-1990’s, roughly, but it has been growing in popularity and is perhaps at its peak right now.

The Lusitania

Resurfacing as a rock band, The Lusitania now sails from El Paso

EL PASO – A plain white-walled room in an everyday suburban house filled with amplifiers and microphone wires is the meeting ground and practice space for the El Paso-based band The Lusitania. The band begins to tune the instruments to start the first practice of the week. Even though they’re nestled in a traditional neighborhood, the vibrations shake the walls of guitarist Will Daugherty’s home. “My neighbors are really cool with what we do,” Daugherty said. “We haven’t gotten complaints about the noise.”

The Lusitania has been shaking walls since 2006 with an eclectic collection of music variously described as “a blend of folk rock and country” and as ranging from “waltz’s to brawling punk-rock anthems.”

The band originally started with brothers Michael and Blake Duncan but has since added members Daugherty, Charles Berry, and Adi Kanlic.

Senior Jecoa Ross plays the oud along with other students during Layali Al-Sham’s rehearsal. (Paul Reynoso/Borderzine.com)

Arab music ensemble brings the Middle East to the border

EL PASO – On Friday afternoons in the practice room of the Fox Fine Arts building, a group of students rehearses for Layali Al-Sham, UTEP’s Arabic music ensemble. The ensemble primarily consists of UTEP students that sing and play Arabic music. The instrumentation of Layali Al-Sham includes a wide variety of Western Classical and Arab musical instruments such as the clarinet, electric guitar and the Egyptian flute called the ney. Dr. Andrea Shaheen, assistant professor of ethnomusicology at UTEP and director of the school’s World Music Ensembles, said that the formation of the Arabic music ensemble began in 2010. “It sort of fell into my lap in that there was this core group of three or four students that were really driven to learn,” Shaheen said.

Local DJ Amer and Co-Founder of Project Freedom. (Meili Bettina Robles/Borderzine.com)

Downtown welcomes glowing Halloween revelers with open streets

EL PASO — Whether they were dressed as a banana, boxing champion, a huge hand flipping the bird, or just plain decked out in glow sticks, one thing was certain, they celebrated the first Halloween of its kind running through downtown. Thanks to Downtown Glow, the first annual event by Flow Entertainment, El Pasoans had a place to celebrate Halloween in a healthy, fun and bright way. The event took place on October 31 on one mile of closed streets including Oregon and Main. “We had seen this concept in other cities and saw that it was very successful,” said Crystal Bocanegra, co-founder of Downtown Glow. After seeing an event like this in Las Vegas, Crystal and her husband Alby decided to use their experience in event planning to create one where participants could enjoy what their own city had to offer.

Sun City Music Festival 2011 at Cohen Stadium. (Iris Lopez/Borderzine.com)

The Sun City’s nightlife rocks with the electronic-dance music that left Juarez

EL PASO – This city on the U.S.- Mexico border known for the strong Mexican-American culture experienced a dramatic growth spurt in music and entertainment in the past two years as nightlife fizzled in violence-plagued Cd. Juarez. “Many people expected the Juarez violence to spill over the border, but the only thing that spilled over that border was the real electro nightlife,” said Silver IsReal, head of Estylow Junktion clothing design. Juarez’s nightclubs such as Hardpop and Morocos concert halls were host to many shows that attracted well-known DJ’s. When the violence in Juarez began to increase, many El Pasoans stopped crossing the border to see those shows and the nightlife followed them north.

El proyecto de la Orquesta Esperanza Azteca pretende no solo formar músicos si no además alejar a los niños y jóvenes de la violencia desatada en la ciudad. (Foto cortesía de Jove Garcia)

Jóvenes, padres de familia y maestros trabajando en concierto tocan un son de esperanza en Juárez

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, México – La vida de la pequeña de 11 años cambió por completo cuando la Orquesta Esperanza Azteca llegó a Cuidad Juárez. Jaqueline, cuyas calificaciones en la escuela no eran las más altas, sentía que le faltaba llenar un vacío dentro de si misma. “Antes de incorporarme a la orquesta me faltaba algo que me hiciera sentir más viva, más plena”, dice Jaqueline. La Orquesta Esperanza Azteca de Cuidad Juárez, un proyecto iniciado por el gobierno municipal y operado por Fundación Azteca, del Grupo Salinas en la Ciudad de México, es un proyecto social cuyo propósito principal es contribuir a la formación de mejores seres humanos a través de la música. “La orquesta consiste aproximadamente de 230 niños y adolescentes de seis a 17 años de edad que provienen de diversos niveles socioeconómicos de la ciudad”, dice Jove Garcia, coordinador del proyecto.

La tambora es el sonido que define al nuevo ritmo del tamborazo. (Janeth Mendoza/Borderzine.com)

¡A bailar tamborazo!

Novedoso género musical se expande en Chicago

CHICAGO – No importa el país ni la cultura, pero la música siempre ha servido como forma de identificación y expresión. La música mexicana no es excepción: Es tan colorida como la cultura del país. Existen rancheras, corridos, mariachis, norteñas, y muchas más, pero un género que está creciendo rápidamente en los alrededores de Chicago es la música del tamborazo. Este particular género consiste de sólo instrumentos y no va acompañado de voz. Tarolas, tambora, saxofones, trombones y tuba son algunos de los instrumentos que se escuchan en un tamborazo.

The Lounge also works as an art gallery. (Kristopher Rivera/Borderzine.com)

Music and art now pervade the ambiance of the Sumatra Hookah Lounge

EL PASO – A new lifestyle is sprouting on the corner of Mesa and Rio Grande where the Sumatra Hookah Lounge weathered by a blend of cultures and creativity has become a point of origin for many talented artists in the area. “The culture is kind of growing into more of like a musical inclined thing,” said David Zubia (bass/vocalist) of Squids Ltd. “We have a lot of electric music scene, and it’s kind of cool to see these rock bands come out and then connect with the crowd, have a good time with the crowd, and involve them.”

The Genesis of this movement began with the ambitions of David Aver, owner of Sumatra Hookah Lounge, took over the tavern from its previous owner on December 2010. “With Sumatra it was primarily a hookah but there were so many young artists that would come and visit my establishment that I decided to kind of make it my mission to contribute to the community by providing an outlet for local musicians,” Aver said. “So as far as on the music side we’re having a lot of people and everyone’s welcomed.”

David Zubia, Stan Zubia and Manuel Hernandez have played a few shows at Sumatra and are an example of the local talent that use the venue as a starting platform.

John Steady. (Annette Baca/Borderzine.com)

Lyrically complex John Steady sings for the passion

EL PASO – John Steady stretches the title musician to new limits by ignoring musical genre borders and playing multiple instruments while still remaining a Hip Hop lyricist artist at heart. At age 16 El Paso’s Steady began compiling verses in his school notebooks. He still keeps all the old notebooks in a box. Although he admits he’s come a long way from those initial rhymes, he still recognizes his attachment to them. He looks back to what he wrote in his youth and can see how much he has progressed since then, now 10 years later.

Mexicans at Night duo playing at M's Lips Lounge in downtown El Paso. (Annette Baca/Borderzine.com)

Mexicans at Night – The soul of the borderland is an indelible note in their musical scale

EL PASO – Steel walls cut and scar the border, while robotic eyes search for movement like predators for prey and border agents patrol the line in choreographed patterns raising clouds of dust, but none of this can keep out the music. This fixed fence prevents illegal migration and keeps America less subject to foreign influence, but it cannot stop a constant transfusion of Mexican culture from becoming ingrained in the U.S. lifestyle, especially in the borderland. “If we’re from El Paso, we often have U.S.-American tastes…but we also have the Mexican culture in the background somewhere. And I think people from Juarez and elsewhere have the same thing,” said Roberto Avant-Mier, a professor of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. He added that the people in the border have two languages, two cultures, several identities, and numerous musical influences, which according to him can come from at least two orientations.

Llega la moda tribal a la frontera

EL PASO – Botas largas y picudas, pantalones entubados y música de cumbia electrónica son algunos de los elementos de la nueva moda en la frontera llamada Tribal. El movimiento tribal nació en México D.F. alrededor de los años 2000 ó 2001. Entonces el movimiento utilizaba sonidos más indígenas como ritmos Aztecas.  Después al momento de llegar a Monterrey se convirte en Tribal Guarachero que es más parecido a la cumbia y guaracha colombianas. Existen varios grupos de baile tribal en las comunidades mexicanas de Estados Unidos y en México. Su forma de vestir es muy particular y lo más llamativo son sus botas picudas.

D.J. Alfredo Macias. (Jessica Alvarez/Borderzine.com)

El Paso safer home for the border Electronic Dance Music community

 

El Paso’s Electronic Dance Music scene

TRANSCRIPT

[Natural sounds: Borderline Skitzo’s “Technopal” track]

JESSICA ALVAREZ (Reporter): While the violence in Juarez has increased significantly over the last 3 years, so has the safety and unity of El Paso’s Electronic Dance Music (EDM) community. Since 2008, many kids and young people have ceased going to Juarez to see their favorite DJs and acts and El Paso has become the place for such events. The EDM scene that existed in Juarez has now jumped across the river and is now thriving here in El Paso making it safer for young people to attend the events. [Nats: Borderline Skitzo’s “Technopal” track]

ALVAREZ: Rasmiyeh Rishdi Asam, also known as Miss Mia, is a regular party-goer and she is also a photographer for the local Electronic Dance Music scene. [Nats: Fredo Maci’s Original Track- “Something Made Simple”]

RASMIYEH RISHDI ASAM: “Because of how the violence has escalated in Juarez, it’s just dangerous to be in the streets in that kind of city or environment.

El Paso's DJs are bringing more diversity to their mixes. (Nicole Castillo/Borderzine.com)

El Paso finds itself dancing to the music

EL PASO – A new El Paso sound pounding through the air with different rhythms coming from all corners compels listeners to move with each pulsating beat and it’s a dance. “People are looking for change in the city. I’ve been one to push the envelope for our mix show ‘the bambucha,'” said DJ Johnny Kage of local radio station Hit F.M. 104.3. “I think hip hop had its time and place. The dance community has been so undergrounded.

Relevance leads to an internship epiphany in the neon desert

EL PASO — The music festival was a living, breathing organism of 11,000 blurry faces, bright lights and loud sounds. Walking through the darkness and seeing the excitement of people dancing frantically to their favorite artists made me understand that we all shared the same mutual amazement for the present. And I had helped to make it happen. Two months earlier, I had received one of these so called “suggested student opportunities” messages via email. I needed an internship I could care about and Splendid Sun Productions wanted interns to help put on a music and arts festival entitled Neon Desert Music Festival on April 30th, 2011.

Building community with percussion

EL PASO — If you are ever passing by Rim Road near Scenic Drive in West El Paso in the summer on an early Friday evening, you might hear a throbbing sound of tribal drums pulling you in closer to the infectious pulse that is Echos in the Park. What started out as a series of relaxing outdoor musical improv sessions by heads of the local jam band, Stanton Street Collective, has evolved into a weekly fluid gathering at Tom Lea Park of musicians and percussionists from all walks of life. “There is something special about having an impromptu jam session with a bunch of people that have never practiced and sharing that feeling of camaraderie,” said Roberto Santos, organizer for the Barbed Wire Open Mic Series. Since getting its start nearly four years ago, Echos in the Park has been gradually growing its circle of amateur percussionists up on top of one of the most beautiful and accessible scenic points overlooking the Downtown El Paso and Juarez area. Though the event’s lack of centralized ownership, formal structure, legitimate promotion and fixed schedule, it has some how managed to continue to thrive efficiently and effectively with word-of-mouth throughout intimate circles of music lovers across the city.

Popular culture offers a different way to evaluate the immigration experience

EL PASO — Immigration on the U.S.-Mexico borderland is portrayed in popular culture as criminal and illegal to audiences that are disconnected from the reality of immigrants who cross the border to save their families from poverty and widespread violence. “Would you risk everything to come to the Unites States?” Dr. Richard D. Pineda asked an audience at the University of Texas at El Paso. He followed this thought with the example of an immigration raid in northern Iowa. Workers at several meat-packing plants were apprehended and taken to deportation facilities. “Even though that force was essentially gutted on that day, they’ve been replaced,” he added, explaining that those plants now show record outputs, “and I can assure you those are not workers working in high level jobs, but workers working for a minimum amount of pay.”

The economic incentive for immigration is too high in the United States and a variety of tasks require a “disposable workforce,” one that comes in the form of undocumented immigrants, explained Pineda, an associate professor of communication at UTEP.