Some kids go to a scout camp for the summer, others learn to swim. Costilla-born musician Chris Arellano has a different summer activity in mind.He calls it "The Summer School of …
By Tamra Testerman
Some kids go to a scout camp for the summer, others learn to swim. Costilla-born musician Chris Arellano has a different summer activity in mind.
He calls it "The Summer School of Rock." It is a week-long program for budding musicians that begins in July and culminates with a live performance onstage with professional musicians at the third annual Nuevo Americana Music Festival.
The event starts at 3 p.m. Saturday (July 6) at the Torres Ranch, 4400 State Road 522 in Costilla, a community at the New Mexico-Colorado border.
In addition to the students, the festival is slated to feature music by The Rifters, Brian Garcia, Lara Manzanares, Gabriella Salazar and Carlos Medina's El Trio Los Gallos. "We'll also feature the comedy of Meow Wolf's comedian and mariachi artist Graviel de la Plaga," Arellano said.
The story behind the school started well over a decade ago in 2001 when Arellano moved to Oregon and opened the MusiCafé Rock School, where he found a passion for teaching music, working with students of all ages. He said, "There's a big need for the arts in public schools and in Taos County. I see a need for students to have the opportunity and a place to express themselves through music. This is how I hope to give back to my hometown community. I work with students that have zero experience but by the end of the week they can play their part within the band, and man do they have fun."
Arellano said it is "great to see the next generation be onstage and represent the music of their era and also the historic Northern New Mexico music culture."
Arellano's own music style is what he calls "Nuevo Americana," a style woven in with the "Norteño music of his Northern New Mexico upbringing with alternative country and blues influences," according to his press release. The music is "fused with song and story, Spanish and English, his transcendent lyrics move listeners with emotion and passion."
What sets this summer music festival apart from the rest, according to Arellano, is that it includes the "Northern New Mexico Spanish folk music and the Texas-influenced country folk music of our area, and my eighth annual 'Summer School of Rock' program, an opportunity for the next music generation to be involved in a professional music atmosphere." He said the idea behind the festival was to "bring all of our Northern New Mexico culture music together in one festival."
The event this summer has been moved from the historic plaza in Costilla, where it has been held for the past two summers, to the Torres Ranch at 4400 State Road 522 to have a larger space.
Arellano said he grew up in Costilla and has been involved in the music scene in Taos County since he was a child. Oregon is his current home, but he stays involved in the Taos music scene. "I'm involved, and an artist in the Michael Hearne Big Barndance Festival [in Taos] and Red River Folk Festival. I try to bridge the gap between the Northern New Mexico Spanish music and the Texas country influence with my music. I started this festival to bridge that music gap."
Admission to the festival is $10 per person, $5 for students. Dry camping is available. It will cost $10 for tent camping and $25-$30 for recreational vehicles and campers. This is a bring-your-own-lawn-chair event. Local food and artisan vendors will be present. For more information, call (541) 223-2614.
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