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SEPTEMBER 2017 • 21


Invisible Jam Sessions

Faraway hills of Ruidoso echo with music

ou drive through the castle-looking entrance into Camelot on a damp Sunday in July. You’re not seeking King Arthur but rather a home recording studio, tucked somewhere in the monsoon-green crags that slice over the top wall of the Ruidoso Valley. Today, a bunch of locals are presumably gathering for a wide-open jam session. The road twists through pine-studded canyons; naturally you get lost and have to call over for directions, just a little more specific, please, so you don’t wind up back in Mescalero. “Oh, man, everyone’s here,â€? says Ray Poston on the line. Poston is a drummer about town who knows all the doings, and a few days earlier he had emailed: “Cagle’s music party shaping up to be a real doozy ‌ So far whom I invited, and confirmed: Julia Cozby; Paul and Piper Adaimian, father/ son guitarists; Tradd Tidwell; Randy Jones; Cody Jones; Tyler Jones; Chris Miles, upright bass; Jennifer Lewicki, singer and percussion; Ile Boren, singer and percussion; Jay Castleberry, harmonica; Mark Kashmar, Delta slide National resonator; Don McMasters, harmonica; Joe Collins, bass


for the Homegrown Boyz. “Cagle verbally invited these others: Rich Chorne; Bobby Segura; Scott Talley; possibly Jamie Estes; DJ Pete; Jay McKittrick, opera singer (but swore he’d sing only C&W or pop or else I get to toss his extra-large ass out). “Still waiting for (Dave) Millsap (guitarist for Delbert McClinton) to confirm; Connie St. John from Wichita Falls; Michael Nivison. Plus, assorted hangers-on and spouses, live-ins, the homeless, curious elk, and mule deer hoping for leftover margarita limes.� That’s Cagle, as in Richard. He owns the studio. He built it a few years ago after mov-

ing to the pines from Houston, where he had played or toured with — had recorded, produced and/or managed — some pretty big names: Annika Chambers, Carolyn Wonderland, Johnny Winter, Uncle John Turner, Joe “King� Carrasco, Pantera, Sepultura, Soilent Green. Raised in the Texas Panhandle town of Dumas (also home of Tommy Shannon, bass player for Steve Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble), Cagle started his first band, Shades of Time, with Carrasco (Teusch) in the seventh grade. In 1967 he moved to Baytown, near Houston, joined the Nomads, and knocked around the regional circuit. Fast-forward to the 1990s. Carolyn Wonderland, a stick of dynamite onstage, burst on the Houston scene. She was Janis Joplin with a guitar, not a bottle of Southern Comfort, in her hands. She had the voice. She had the licks. She had “It.� Cagle produced her first two albums. For the second, “Truckstop Favorites Vo. 2,� he was named Producer of the Year at the Houston Press/KLOL Music Awards. Under his guidance, Wonderland signed with the William Morris Agency and was offered a major recording deal with Giant Records. In 2009, Cagle put together the Voodoo Choir after writing and recording the album “Texas Voodoo Blues.� In 2016 the Choir released their second album, “DOS,� on Cagle’s Montrose Records, a heavy-metal/ blues collection of 13 originals. The release garnered three finalist slots in the 2017 New Mexico Music Awards: Best Rock CD of the Year, Best Blues Song of the Year (“Slow Blues�) and Producer of the Year (Cagle). “Slow Blues� won its category. “When we first learned that we had been nominated by the NMMA, that in itself was a great honor and if we hadn’t went a


step further that would have been great,� Cagle says on his website. “However, when they called our name Monday night (at the awards ceremony) that became the icing on the cake.� Cagle still divides his time between Ruidoso and Houston, and he’s opened his mountain studio to others. In 2016 he produced “Music of Ruidoso,� a 20song compendium on Montrose Records featuring local talent and benefiting the Lincoln County Food Bank. Many on that record showed up at the jam session. Afternoon tumbled into evening on spontaneous rhythms that blistered the mountaintop and serenaded the mule deer. Players who never

play together played together in sweet combinations. They concocted music on the fly. It was so much fun that Cagle, it’s said, might extend this shindig to a monthly basis. First, though, you’ve got to find the place. Marty Racine, the managing editor of the Las Cruces Bulletin, occasionally plays guitar with some of these characters. They smile back and tolerate his good intentions. He may be reached at editor@

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