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.