Old Martínez Hall was a sanctuary for the local music community back in the day. You couldn’t help but move to the music. With a room full of dancers, the floor shook so hard it undulated, recalled David Garver, lead singer for The Bohiems, a 1980s Taos band.
It shook so hard it made the speakers rock from side to side, according to Chris Dracup, former frontman for The Muttz, another popular Taos band from the same era.
Tempo readers who remember those days – and those who don’t – are in for a treat as Garver and Dracup join forces on that same stage Friday (Sept. 29), 8 p.m., at Old Martina’s Hall (as the venue is now known) across from the famous San Francisco de Asís Church at 4140 State Road 68 in Ranchos de Taos. Tickets are $8 at the door.
Dracup and his band, Funk of the West, combine American blues and funk music with African polyrhythms. Funk of the West consists of percussionist Male Fainke (who comes from the West African griot tradition), saxophonist Nic Chavez, drummer Melvin Crisp, bassist Jose Romero and New Orleans keyboardist (now Taoseño) Bob Andrews.
“We’re gonna do a segment of slide blues, a bunch of funk, a little African and a section of New Orleans tunes,” Dracup said. In addition, the group will dip into the past to play a song or two by The Muttz and The Bohiems.
Dracup has a long history with the revered Ranchos venue. He remembers meeting Taj Mahal there in 1977 when he was 12 years old and sneaked into a show. It was also the place where Dracup played one of his first paying shows at the age of 15 at the front bar. “It was the site of some epic gigs,” Dracup recalled. “I haven’t played there, well, since before it was renovated, at least 15 years. I heard they redid the floor.”
When asked what prompted him to perform with Garver, Dracup said The Muttz and The Bohiems used to perform at some of the same shows together at the Old Martínez Hall and the Anglada’s Building in Cañón. In recent years, Garver and Dracup have discussed the possibility of playing together. “We’ve been talking about it for a while. We just decided to try it. … [Garver’s] always been an amazing singer and actor. We see each other here and there. But, we haven’t played together.”
Garver added, “Chris has always been a friend, first. He’s grown so much as a guitarist. He’s really a blues funk master now. … You’re in for a real treat. He can really bring it. His funk band is tight as nails.”
Old Martínez Hall was at times the epicenter for local music, as well as big names from outside the community, Garver said. It was also a special home for The Muttz and The Bohiems. “That’s where I got to meet a lot of the Spanish community. It was a safe haven for us. We could always go back to Old Martínez Hall, and it was a sanctuary,” recalled Garver. “Back then, Taos had a tribal, celebratory response to the music – people danced all night long. … It was a heightened experience.”
He said that The Bohiems “were tight as a family and musicians and The Muttz were really gracious and they were always really watching out for us. Some magical shows happened in that room. … It’s a great, great music hall, in the old Spanish tradition. You just can’t find a room like that. There were a lot of people who came to The Bohiems and The Muttz and expected a certain caliber of performance and they also expected a certain transfer of energy. It was a blessing. I tried to always give it all.”
You can be sure that Dracup’s Funk of the West and special guest Garver will throw down a full-on Taos experience. If you love to dance or just want to soak in the good vibes, head over to Old Martina’s Hall.
For more information on Funk of the West and Dracup’s musical career since The Muttz, visit chrisdracup.com.