Celebrating the reds, whites and the blues
By Zak Hansen
Las Cruces Bulletin
Since 2006, the Mesilla Valley Jazz and Blues Society (MVJBS) has been preserving and promoting those two most quintessentially American art forms – jazz and blues, both borne of musicians on U.S. soil before expatriating worldwide – in southern New Mexico, through both awarding musical scholarships to students and holding live music performances, including its monthly meeting/ concert and annual Mesilla Jazz Happening, held each October.
Last August, after many years of hosting small blues performances throughout the summer, the MVJBS decided to pull those shows together for an all-evening musical extravaganza held on the lush foregarden of St. Clair Winery & Bistro, flowing with robust reds and delicate whites to complement the best blues in town.
Yes, the Red, White and Blues Festival is back from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, at St. Clair Winery & Bistro, 1720 Avenida de Mesilla, with a slate of stellar blues performances, dancing, food and wine under the summer sky.
This year’s festival will feature performances from the Austin Jim Murphy four-piece band, hailing from El Paso, along with Las Cruces’ own Muddy Hands Blues Band and 24/7 Blues Band.
El Paso’s James “Jim Murphy” is the director for the El Paso Museum of History, but he’s also Austin Jimmy Murphy, bluesman, singer and songwriter leading the Austin Jim Murphy fourpiece band, which will kick off this year’s festival with a rocking and rollicking blues performance from 4 to 6 p.m. For more, visit www.bandmix.com/ austin-jimmy-murphy.
Next up, Las Cruces’ Muddy Hands Blues Band – Ben Altamirano on vocals and harp, Andrew Anaya on drums, Bill Godby on guitar and John Hyndman on electric and double bass – is returning for a repeat performance from last year’s festival. The group was formed in 2011, mixing together classic Chicago blues, Texas shuffle and Memphis blues, incorporating tunes from Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Freddie King and more. They’ll take the stage from 6 to 8 p.m. You can hear more from Muddy Hands Blues Band at www.reverbnation. com/ muddyhandsbluesband.
Closing out the evening from 8 to 10 p.m. is another Las Cruces local and repeat performer at the Red, White and Blues Festival – The 24/7 Blues Band. This high-energy five-piece – Gary Stamper on lead vocals and guitar, Tim McKeller on bass guitar and vocals, Gary Lambert on keyboards and vocals, Larry Blevins on saxophone and Rene Brown on drums – plays blues and R& B music, with a healthy mix of their own original tunes and a few well-known crowd-pleasing covers.
Tickets to the Red, White and Blues Festival are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets are now available at St. Clair Winery & Bistro, 1720 Avenida de Mesilla; White’s Music Box, 200 N. Main St.; Hubbard’s Music-N-More, 108 Wyatt Drive; and by credit card at the MVJBS website, www.mvjazzblues.net.
Zak Hansen can be reached at 680-1958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.