Local musicians take the stage at Trans-Pecos

Photo by Jackson Montgomery Schwartz. DJ Jacqueline Del Olmo (aka Sweetheart of the Rodeo) kicked off Trans-Pecos at the festival’s welcoming party on Wednesday.

JACQUELINE DEL OLMO

Jacqueline Del Olmo (aka Sweetheart of the Rodeo) owns Mira Marfa, a skincare studio and beauty boutique, and is a DJ in town. She opened up Trans-Pecos with a set yesterday during the festival’s welcoming party. 

How long have you been DJing?

Actually when I moved to Marfa I guess four years ago –– I really started DJing here. I had just started my little business and I was starting from the ground up, but I needed supplemental income to pay the bills until I actually started seeing clients. I started doing the Capri, Al Campo and little parties on the weekend. So that’s why I kind of really started DJing, surprisingly enough.

What got you interested in DJing? 

I like to provide the vibe of the party because I’m an introvert, to be honest. It’s something where I can kind of control the direction of the party. Even in my own business, when people come in for a facial, the minute they walk in the door it’s about the smells, the scents, the noise. So it’s a similar thing when I want to go to a party –– I want the feel of the party to be something I would enjoy. 

And since I’m Latina in Marfa, there’s this longing for my culture. But I want to provide it on my terms rather than on somebody else’s. 

Do you have a process you go through when selecting songs or choosing what to play in a set? 

I take all my 45s [records] and kind of wing it –– I go by how it feels in the moment. I just take a huge amount of my records, and 45s are so easy to lug around. I try to play musicians I know, friends I know, but also stick with stuff I grew up with. 

Is there a theme or a main genre that you like to play? What’s your go-to vibe? 

I’ll do cumbia stuff. But I really try to do the Afro-influence of it all, because a lot of cumbia and Latin American music are really a culmination of all these cultures together. But then I’ll do doo-wop and stuff because that’s what I grew up with, so there’s this huge influence of older music. I also try to do a little bit of contemporary so it’s not stuck in one genre, but it’s definitely more Latina than anything. 

Will you be attending Trans-Pecos this year beyond your set? 

Yes, I am. I love Sleater-Kinney and Parquet Courts –– it’s going to be rad. I kind of blocked out my schedule so I can do that, and I’m really not seeing clients [this week] so I can go to the festival. I feel bad because I was supposed to DJ a wedding, and I had to back out. I was like, “Hey lady, Sleater-Kinney is playing.” I feel bad, but really not that bad.

Photo by Sam Karas. Loviband members Pat Keesey, Cale Hand, and David Garcia practice at the Lumberyard.

PAT KEESEY

Pat Keesey, local woodworker and artist, is playing with Loviband on Thursday from 12-1. He also plays with the Grand Tourists. 

Who’s in the band? 

Loviband is me, Pat Keesey. I play guitar and I sing. “Sing” should definitely be in quotation marks. David Garcia plays bass. He was born and raised in Marfa, maybe the first person born and raised in Marfa to play at Trans-Pecos. David and I have been playing together for a few months. And then we got Cale Hand on drums. He started playing with us a week ago. 

So y’all have only been a band for one week? 

Well, technically the band started in 1999 with my brother and somebody named John Levine, and we made a record and we started to have a following. Then people in the Grand Tourists found the record and thought it was great, so me, Paul, and Ross did a show at Marfa Open, so I kind of got back into it. But they’re busy and Ross is doing his solo thing, so I created my own lineup. 

How would you describe your musical stylings? 

I’m calling Loviband “dirge-ibilly.” It’s kind of mixed rockabilly, bluegrass, and then it all has kind of a swampy sound. King Buzzo –– the lead singer of the Melvins back when the original Loviband was performing –– called us “the next Creedence Clearwater Revival.” But it’s much more contemporary than that, it’s a little more rock ‘n’ roll. It’s very guitar heavy, very messy. 

Are you hoping to keep the band together with this lineup?

The practice has been sounding great. We’re having a lot of fun, and it’s a nice group of people and they all learn really quickly. Everybody’s working full time so it’s hard to do too much, but we have a fantasy of hosting some kind of music event at Vizcaino and getting all the bands in Marfa to play all day long. 

What’s it like having a band in Marfa? 

It’s hard and we have to be very respectful with people’s schedules. My other band is starting to make a little money at weddings so there’s a little more incentive. But we only practice once a week, maybe twice. But compared to living in New York City, it’s a breeze because everything’s ten minutes away. It’s not as hard to meet up. 

How long have you been in town?

I originally came to Marfa in 1994, and I bought a house for practically nothing because it was the middle of the 90s. I just kept coming down and then finally decided to move into my house. 

Apart from music, what do you do in town?

I have a woodshop that makes custom furniture. I’m a painter, I just had an opening at Do Right Hall that’ll be on display during Trans-Pecos. And I’m also a yoga teacher. 

Photo by Chris Vigue. Alpine resident and coffee purveyor Mateo Mares (third from right) hit the stage with Marijuana Sweet Tooth Wednesday afternoon.

MATEO MARES

Mateo Mares, who co-owns Cedar Coffee Supply in Alpine, opened Trans-Pecos with Marijuana Sweet Tooth on Wednesday.

Who’s in Marijuana Sweet Tooth? 

Grant Johnson is on bass, Aaron Casper is on pedal steel and slide, Devin Hopwood plays piano, Lydia Froncek will be singing with us at the fest. Andrew Stevens plays the drums, and I play guitar and sing. 

How long have y’all been playing together?

We started in 2015 as a three piece, and have grown now into a six-piece band. It’ll be six years soon. Hot dog!

How would you describe your sound? 

Country folk, kinda twangy. A lot of guy-girl vocals, a lot of back and forth and harmonizing and conversation. Slow, sad tunes, really. 

Are you the only member of the band that lives in West Texas? 

Correct. 

What’s it like to have a band that’s mostly long distance? 

It’s kind of difficult after getting used to being like, “Oh I got this idea, come over!” With not performing a lot [since the pandemic], it hasn’t been too bad, and I actually enjoyed the step away from it all. And so I’ve just been kind of chipping away at songs over the last year and a half. I write them, and then whenever everybody’s here we record rough demos. It’s definitely not as convenient as it used to be. I’ve played with some folks out here, but it’s mostly fun jamming around. I mostly play the drums or bass when I play with other people. 

What’s your relationship to Far West Texas? 

It was a year in May –– so a year and a half or so [I’ve lived in Alpine]. Not too long, but I have spent years and years coming out here growing up. My dad was a big camper, took us to Fort Davis and Big Bend every summer. All through my twenties in Austin I found myself out here maybe two or three times a year. If I ever heard of a friend coming out here I would see if they had an extra seat. 

What do you do outside of music? 

I spend a lot of time working at [Cedar Coffee], keeping the shop stocked with cups and coffee. 

What made you want to co-own a coffee shop in Alpine, TX?

Oh man, it was not a part of the plan when I came out here. I was happy with just being in a new environment and working for other people. Then the opportunity came about, and it seemed like a good idea. After being in coffee for 20 years, I know what makes a shop run. There isn’t too much that has changed for me other than, like, taxes and city building ordinances and all the little legal stuff you have to get into. It’s a whole new and different kind of feeling when I’m on my way to work. It feels better. I feel proud.

Where can people find more of your music?

We have two records online at all the musical platforms. 

Do y’all have any plans to play locally in the future?

I don’t feel too good about touring just yet, but I’m trying to have one good outdoor show a month for now. 

Photo by Jean Nored Cornell. Alpine resident Ross Fleming recently released his first album, “It’s the Tryin’,” which he described as distinctly Americana.

ROSS FLEMING

Ross Fleming is a singer-songwriter based in Alpine. He performed at the festival’s welcoming party on Wednesday afternoon. You can listen to his LP “It’s the Tryin’” on Spotify and Apple Music. 

Can you tell me how you first got into playing music? 

Well, I started writing songs when I was probably 15, so I’ve been doing it for a while. I’ve played lots of gigs for years and years, but recently I just put out my first record. We recorded it in Marfa –– I’ve been getting more gigs based on that. 

How would you describe your music? 

Americana. This record that we just put out, a theme would be the desert, but I don’t really know. Every song just about was written in West Texas and is about West Texas. 

Do you listen to a lot of singer-songwriter stuff? 

I listen to a lot of different music, but I guess my heroes are Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, and The Replacements. However, I don’t think my music sounds much at all like the music I listen to.

Do you have a specific way to get in the zone to start working on a new project? 

It comes to me in different ways. Sometimes I get a melody first and sometimes I get the lyrics first. I wrote one song on the record because I stopped at a roadside historical marker and it gave me the song “Maximilian’s Gold” that was written on Highway 67. 

What’s the historical marker? 

It’s a historical marker between McCamey and Rankin on Highway 67. It’s a story about the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico knowing that he was going to get killed by [President Benito] Juárez. He sent some guys with all of his money in a wagon to get to Galveston to be sent back to Austria. But the wagon never made it anywhere except north of the border, and no one’s ever found the gold. 

Will you be attending the festival outside of your gig?

Oh yeah, we will be there every day, and I’m most excited about seeing Jade Bird. 

Who is that?

She’s a pretty young singer-songwriter. She’s from England I believe, and now lives in Austin. She’s a great songwriter.

Photo by Sarah M. Vasquez. Colt Miller, Joe Cashiola, Ross Cashiola and Riley O’Bryan perform at the Trans-Pecos Festival 2017.

ROSS CASHIOLA

Ross Cashiola, a Marfa-based artist and fabricator, will be playing a mix of covers and original material with the Grand Tourists at Trans-Pecos this Friday from 1-3. 

How long have the Grand Tourists been together?

We’ve been together for two or three years. We did some things together before the pandemic started and regrouped this past May for a show we did at the French Grocer in Marathon. That was the first time we played anywhere together since our last show at the Lost Horse before the pandemic hit. 

You’ve played in one band or another in Trans-Pecos every year since the festival began. What keeps you coming back? 

Liz [Lambert] and the crew keep asking me back. Every year except one they’ve asked us to get up there and kick things off. I love doing it and it’s great to get up there and play and be a part of it all. 

How long have you been in Marfa?

Since 2006. It was supposed to be a brief excursion from life in Chicago. Then it was February and it was 75 degrees down here and 3 degrees in Chicago, so I told everybody I was just going to stick around here. For the first three years, I was back and forth between here and Austin and Chicago.

What genre do you play and how did you land on your sound? 

I’ve always called it “country grunge folk ‘n’ roll.” I started out playing folk songs. After playing with different bands and countless different people over the past 17 years, I’ve learned that every show has its own sound and its own vibe. When you write simple songs, they just lend themselves to all kinds of different interpretations. I’m not a classically trained musician or anything, so it’s all composed very simply. I let people who know more about music hear what they hear in it and go from there. 

What effect did the pandemic have on your music?

It shut everything down. I played a show on New Years at the Capri in 2020, and that was really the last show I’d done of my own music. Everything since then has been with the Grand Tourists. It’s exciting to get back out there and be playing some songs. 

Is the Grand Tourists music available elsewhere? 

The Grand Tourists aren’t online anywhere right now, but we’re hoping to maybe get something recorded soon, something that people can buy while they’re in town. We mostly play covers, but there’s a few things I’ve written that we play. We’re hoping to get around the tri-county region again and start playing shows again. 

What do you do in town outside of music? 

My brother Joe and I have a welding company, and we do that to make money. I also make paintings, and I’m trying to reconnect with that side of myself. Joe works on films and stuff and I’m usually involved in that. We’ve always got some kind of project brewing.

Photo by Mary Keating Bruton. Musician Scrappy Jud Newcomb will take the stage at Trans-Pecos on Thursday, supported by Fran Christina.

SCRAPPY JUD NEWCOMB

Marfa resident Scrappy Jud Newcomb helped open the festival with Ross Fleming on Wednesday and is playing a solo set on Thursday. 

Who are you performing with at Trans-Pecos? 

I’m going to be doing a set under my own name on Thursday at 3, that will just be me and Fran Christina [on drums]. I’m also accompanying Ross Fleming on Wednesday, who I produced a record for in the fall of 2020 at Marfa Recording Company. 

How long have you known them? 

Fran I’ve known a long long time, since maybe the mid-90s, and Ross I’ve known tangentially for a little while. He teaches at Sul Ross. When the pandemic started, he was without a job except for online stuff and had never made a record before, so he took the opportunity to do that. 

How would you describe the set you’re going to play under your own name? 

Fran –– who played on my last record some –– is a perfect accompanist because he’s so versed in old school stuff. It’s going to be original material, kind of a rock ‘n’ roll, R&B mashup sound. All fairly vintage sounding. 

What is your connection to Marfa and Far West Texas? 

I spent most of my youth in Austin. I started playing out here when the Railroad Blues in Alpine opened, I think in ‘95. I’ve had a place here since 2013. I’ve lived out here for big chunks of time. Depending on my touring schedule and what’s going on in Austin, I’ll sometimes just go back and forth. 

Do you think it adds anything to your creative process or to your music?

Definitely. It’s just the place that I have always been more comfortable and inspired in. I used to come out here a lot, especially in the 90s, just to write. Everything –– you know how it is, if you love it out here, you really love it out here. 

What have you been up to outside of playing music? 

Up to March 2020, my life was all about music. I’ve been playing professionally for the past 32 years or something like that. Whenever everything shut down I was just taking any kind of work I could get, and Fran was very helpful, and then I ended up doing a lot of things for a lot of different people. Like I painted the bar at the Water Stop –– a job for which I had absolutely no experience. 

Where else is your music available? 

It’s on all of the streaming services, there’s hard copies available and CDs you can order. 

Do you have plans to play in Far West Texas after this festival? 

I’m playing it by ear, hoping that a couple tours that are planned with other people in the later fall and winter come through. It looks pretty positive that they’re going to happen. This is the longest that I’ve been in one place for a long, long time. 

Photo by Luciano Rossetti. Marfa’s Rob Mazurek performs with Damon Locks. Both musicians will be onstage as part of a sextet performing as Exploding Star Orchestra during the Saturday night lineup at Trans-Pecos Festival.

ROB MAZUREK

Rob Mazurek is a Marfa-based artist and musician who will be bringing his cosmic tunes to the Trans-Pecos stage with Exploding Star Orchestra on Saturday night.

How would you describe Exploding Star Orchestra’s sound to someone that’s a newcomer to your music?

Wow, how can I explain it? That’s probably one of the hardest questions I’ve been asked, because it’s so many things. I guess, psychedelic space opera.

Who’s joining you on stage at Trans-Pecos this year?

The lineup is extraordinary. It’s Damon Locks on voice and electronics; he’s been with the group for years and is the voice of the group. Jeff Parker, the amazing guitarist. Angelica Sanchez, one of the greatest pianists on earth at the moment from New York. Craig Taborn ​​— I hate to repeat myself, but he’s one of the most amazing pianists, electronics, and a world renowned keyboardist/composer. Gerald Cleaver, one of the most amazing, incredible drummers who lived in New York for years and years and very prevalent in creative music and free jazz music. And myself, that’s six. I wrote this new suite for the festival, so it’s going to be the world premiere of — I don’t even know what I’m calling it. [Mazurek pauses.] We’ll call the suite Lightning Dreamer.

What inspired the new suite?

Liz [Lambert, the owner of El Cosmico] contacted me and asked me what I wanted to do, and I thought Exploding Star would be exciting. This composition, Lightning Dreamer, was written for these specific players and instrumentation. I’ve been working on it the past few months, rather than playing stuff that’s already been played or done. We’ll also play a few things off Dimensional Stardust, the new record, but this is the debut of the Exploding Star Orchestra sextet. It doesn’t take a lot to get me inspired, especially this instrumentation is very unique. There’s two Wurlitzers, two Moogs, drums, guitar, voice and I’m going to play some trumpet and electronics; that’s all I need to get the creative energies moving.

Almost everything has been shaken up in the past year or two; how has it affected the music you make?

Myself and a lot of these musicians, it’ll be one of their first concerts or close to it in the past year and a half. I feel very lucky to have a sound studio and painting studio right here in Marfa, so I was able to dig further into myself in finding new areas, trying to surprise myself with new ways of experiencing things, because we weren’t able to experience things in person in the past year and a half. The main thing has been just learning about oneself more and through that self-learning, coming up with something new and I think that’s what the new music is.

You’re a pretty prolific musician — are you working on any new projects?

I’m working on something I started at Ballroom Marfa at the beginning of the year. Ballroom gave me a residency for a month and a half and it’s a work I’ve been thinking about and accruing information for in the past 10 years. It’s called The Book of Sound and is an experimental opera that I’ve been working on for quite a long time, but especially since the Ballroom residency. The premiere of that work is going to be in Paris on February 6 at a festival, and I’ll also present an installation at Maintenant [a venue in Marfa] for Chinati Weekend.

What excites you about playing live music this year?

What excites me is just being able to connect with the people. The stage over at El Cosmico is great and it’s intimate. I do make my living making art, whether it’s sound or visual, but I don’t do this stuff to make money. I do it as an exchange of energy, whether it’s on a turntable or a live situation where you can really connect to people who are getting down with it.


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