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DESERT EXPOSURE

FEBRUARY 2017 • 17

THE CHROMATIC SCALE • MARTY RACINE

Ruidoso: Strumming on Sacred Ground

T

he tourism draw of Lincoln County is a small town with no musical identity or industry, as viewed through any national or regional lens. Yet, the evergreen hills surrounding Ruidoso harbor plenty of talent. “Ruidoso has not dozens but maybe 200 guitarists who seemingly appear out of the woodwork, or woods, as it were,” said Ray Poston, a drummer at open mics and jam sessions around town. “So, a lot of excellent music gets created on the spur of the moment, ad-libbing all the way.” Among the axe-slingers are Mark Kashmar, Tradd Tidwell, Rich Chorne, Tim McCaslin, David Millsap, Tyler Jones, Jhett Schiavone and Jack Lobb. “Ruidoso is developing a brother/sisterhood of dedicated musicians who are getting the job done,” Poston said. “They exchange ideas, sometimes turn cover songs inside-out, practice their craft, show up on time, put on a fine show. There is a real camaraderie.” There’s a drummer who has played in Paris, France, with blues legends Lightnin’ Hopkins, Willie Dixon and Sonny Terry. There’s a rancher from north of town who looks like Wyatt Earp and blazes Led Zeppelin licks on his black Stratocaster. There’s a petite, ginger-haired songstress who can field-dress an elk by day and sing by night like Nancy Sinatra. There’s a 6-foot-5, blond who dresses like Cochise and sings like a 70-year-old bluesman on a front porch in Clarksdale, Mississippi. There’s a new resident who played guitar for Fort Worth roadhouse warrior Delbert McClinton for 20 years. There’s a guitarist retired from the legendary Flying J Wranglers who can turn every country lick known to Chet Atkins. There’s a harmonica player who learned his craft playing every blues club on Maxwell Street in Chicago. In addition, Khaliya Kimberlie

The Jones and Miles Band prides itself for its merging form of bluegrass, punk, blues and Irish/Celtic music influences. (Courtesy Photo)

of the Mescalero Apache tribe appeared on “The Voice” in 2016. Kimberlie, who speaks fluent Apache, joined a choir after singing in a 5th-grade talent show and now performs at local benefits for women affected by domestic violence.  Singer/songwriter Julia Jones Cozby and Mike Montoya, both from down the hill in Tularosa, play Ruidoso fairly regularly. Cozby’s song “Lincoln County Line” “has ‘hit’ written all over it, once she gets it recorded,” Poston said. “The best news,” he said, “stems from the younger generation. Sure, they might have their ever-present smart phone in one hand...but in the other is a guitar. Ella and Grant Miller, ages 11 and 14, respectively, are already seasoned road dogs (puppies?) and put their own spin on today’s songs by the likes of Shovels & Rope and Katy Perry. And, yes, a few acts are making a name for themselves throughout the state and parts of the West. Gleewood, “a musky Americana act that swaggers through blues, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll,” has dropped their new, and second, album, Sweet, Sweet Time, recorded at Secret Circus Studio in Roswell (gleewoodmusic.com; gleewoodbandcamp.com). One of the cuts, the 7-minute “Whiskey Sue,” plus their 16:46 “Live Session,” rocks a video on YouTube. Gleewood is the husband/wife team of Jhett and Callie Sioux Schiavone. The two met when Jhett moved back to New Mexico from Hawaii, and they occasionally bloom into a trio or quartet by adding drums and other instruments to the mix. “We call ourselves mountain music because we like to take peo-

ple through the peaks and valleys of music,” Callie Sioux explains. “I’m a storyteller and it takes a lot of elements to create a good story.” Gleewood has performed more than 800 shows, including multiple tours to Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. They appear in Las Cruces at High Desert Brewery on Feb. 16. Jones and Miles, who played High Desert in early January, have recorded a number of songs at Secret Circus and have a 12:56 minute live “Full Session” on YouTube. Brothers Tyler and Cody Jones, Chris Miles and Donnie Marling “push the limits of traditional bluegrass and folk,” according to their bio. “Incorporating elements of rock, reggae, jazz, and punk they have created a unique original sound that provides for one of the most entertaining live shows in the Southwest.” On the recording front, Richard

Cagle has built a state-of-the-art studio on top of a mountain. Cagle moved here from Houston, where he had been a singer with his own band, The Voodoo Choir. “Acid blues-rock,” Poston said. “His backing Houston musicians are superb, the real blues.” That said, the Ruidoso infrastructure is not really conducive to its talent. Years ago, Dream Catcher café had a running feud with the village over decibel levels after 9 p.m. And though a few songsters appear on sidewalks from time to time, the village has restrictions against street musicians. “Also, the advertising and promotion of bands need drastic improvement,” Poston said. “There is entirely too much misinformation in the media and on posters: wrong starting times, incorrect dates, no phone numbers given, bad directions. You have to sometimes dig like archaeologists for pertinent information.” And, Ruidoso has few venues. O’Malley’s Irish pub, which featured an open mic on Thursday nights, has closed. Anaheim Jack’s no longer has live music. Casa Blanca Mexican restaurant, which hosted weekend shows in its downtown bar, is quiet after new ownership took over.

Sacred Grounds Coffee & Tea House, which has offered an open mic on Fridays for about six years, is still operating. However, owner Will Ponder announced recently that “all music offerings are  being re-evaluated. Sometimes we’ll have them, sometimes not.” Rich Chorne’s Annual Birthday Band Bash is held at Sacred Grounds, bringing up old buddies from El Paso. “Leads to an all-out jam and is the party of the year,” said Poston. El Paso jazzbos are exceptional players.” Guitarist Dan Rivera hosts a twice-monthly open jam Sunday afternoons at Ruidoso Art Gallery on Sudderth Drive. “The group is smaller, but there seems to be a core forming,” said guitarist Doug Hunsicker. Marty Racine spent 22 years as a music critic for the Houston Chronicle. After leaving the Ruidoso News in 2011, he fell back in love with the guitar. Today he serves as managing editor of the Las Cruces Bulletin. Racine can be contacted at martyracine@ hotmail.com; 575-973-4644.

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Desert Exposure - February 2017