Spicy foods, hot music

Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights set to heat up Red River once again

By M. Elwell Romancito
Posted 8/19/17

Are you interested in an up-close-and-personal concert experience up in Red River? A four-day event, the 21st annual Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights happening up in Red River features live music all weekend with Larry Joe Taylor and other performers.

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Spicy foods, hot music

Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights set to heat up Red River once again


Are you interested in an up-close-and-personal concert experience up in Red River? A four-day event, the 21st annual Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights happening up in Red River features live music all weekend with Larry Joe Taylor and other performers.

The event is Wednesday through Saturday (Aug. 16-19). Also scheduled for the event are multiple cook-offs in Brandenburg Park on Saturday (Aug. 19). Cook-offs include the CASI “Red River Red” cook-off, the “New Mexico State Green Chile Championship” and the “Lone Star BBQ Society” cook-off.

The festival draws crowds of 55,000 or more. Music venues all over town include the Lost Love Saloon, Brandenburg Park and the historic Motherlode Saloon.

Music fans can enjoy having unique access to world-class singers and songwriters. It is not uncommon to see renowned musicians sitting around the fireplace at The Lodge at Red River, playing for everyone to hear.

Here’s a rundown on some of the folks you might see:

Larry Joe Taylor is the featured musician and event organizer. Taylor has been playing up in Red River since 1997. His style is often referred to as “Southwest meets Key West.” His style is upbeat, down home and magnetic. Jerry Jeff Walker stated, “Larry Joe Taylor is the Jimmy Buffett of Texas. He’s learned to survive by grinding it out, doing whatever it takes to keep himself viable through cruises, festivals like the Texas Music Festival, connecting with his fans and working his ass off.”

Cole Risner has been writing songs since he was 13 years old. In his short time on the Texas country scene, he has already left his mark. He has shared the stage with Jack Ingram, Reckless Kelly, Hayes Carll, Radney Foster, American Aquarium and Chris Knight, just to name a few. Risner has his third single, “How It Feels To Me,” on radio stations across Texas.

Erick Willis is leaving his mark on the scene. Taking cues from the music he was raised on, Willis is blending soulful melodic lyrics with the deep groove of roots rock and, as his lyric says, “with some of the harder stuff.” Showcasing a smooth voice with an excellent upper register and then gravely at times, Willis brings lots of soul to the mix, along with undeniably Texas-inspired lyrics.

Flatland Cavalry is a Lubbock, Texas-based outfit that performs roots country and straddles that line between the Panhandle and the badlands of West Texas with bright, earthy country ballads and gritty folk ramblers.

Joe Forlini has shared the stage with Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, Joe Ely, Auggie Meyers, among others. Forlini began playing the guitar at a young age and his style pays tribute to his early influences, which are Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Carlos Santana and Joe Walsh. Born in Detroit, Michigan, he has lived in Texas for the last 30 years.

Josh Weathers is a singer-songwriter who plays R&B, funk, rock and soul. Since 2005, he has performed all over the state of Texas and has shared the stage with some national acts, including The Wood Brothers, Galactic, Monte Montgomery, Average White Band, Eddie Money, George Clinton and Leon Russell.

Kaitlin Butts has a debut album, “Same Hell, Different Devil,” which is the result of taking stories “down the [red dirt] rabbit hole known as the Boohatch Studios, the album serves as a showcase for her songwriting and vocal abilities.”

Keith Sykes songs have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. With 13 full-length albums released and great success with his own publishing company, he has more than 100 songs recorded by artists as diverse as Rosanne Cash and George Thorogood.

Richard Leigh has been writing songs since he was 10 years old and professionally since he was 23. He got his first break in 1976, when Crystal Gayle released “I’ll Get Over You” and took it to the top on Billboard’s country chart. He has also won seven song of the year nominations and one from the Country Music Association (CMA).

Michael Hearne is a songwriter’s songwriter. A consistent winner of the “Best of Taos” awards for performer and singer for more than 10 years, Hearne’s songwriting credits are impressive. Awards include song of the year, album of the year and best production at the 2001 New Mexico MIC Awards for “A Taos Christmas Eve,” 2002. He has penned songs for Jerry Jeff Walker and Gary P. Nunn and his New Mexico anthem, “New Mexico Rain,” recorded by his uncle and aunt, Bill and Bonnie Hearne, as well as country music legend Johnny Rodriguez.

Gary P. Nunn is a well-known singer-songwriter. One of his most famous songs is “London Homesick Blues,” which had been used as the theme song for the popular television show “Austin City Limits” for two decades. Nunn is also considered the father of the progressive country scene that started in Austin, Texas, in the early 1970s.

Mike Addington, a veteran of honky-tonks, nightclubs, concert halls and festivals, has opened for many acts, including Asleep at the Wheel, Leon Russell, Cross Canadian Ragweed and shared the stage with greats, including Joe Ely, Gary P. Nunn, Freddie Fender, Keith Sykes and Kevin Welsh.

Mike McClure got his start in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He would hang out and play music at the notorious “Farm” with other artists, such as Bob Childers, Tom Skinner and Scott Evans. After forming The Great Divide with J.J. Lester, Scotte Lester and Kelley Green in 1992 and contributing to six studio albums and one live two-part album, McClure is now performing solo.

Shake Russell’s tune, “Deep In the West,” debuted on the second volume of the “1973 Kerrville Folk Festival Live Highlights” album. Over the next decades, Russell has been a regular Kerrville performer. His songwriting influences have included Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Tim Hardin, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Randy Newman and Stephen Stills. Subsequent covers include “Deep In The West” by Waylon Jennings on “Hanging Tough,” “You’ve Got A Lover” by Ricky Skaggs on the “Heartaches And Highways” album, “You Wouldn’t Know Me” by Gary P. Nunn and “Hard To Find A Smile” by Bill and Bonnie Hearne.

The Tejas Brothers describe their sound in this way: “Tex-Mex meets honky-tonk, the accordion is joined by the steel guitar – and everyone wins. Mama loves George Jones and Daddy loves Freddy Fender.” That’s the famous quote from Dave Perez, accordionist for the band. With influences from all different styles of music, an audience might find it difficult to describe a live show. Most will say, “I don’t know what to call it; I just know it’s good.”

Terry Allen is a country music singer in the outlaw country/Texas country genre, painter and conceptual artist from Lubbock, Texas. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Allen recorded eight albums during the years 1975 to 2004 and collaborated with David Byrne on the soundtrack for Byrne’s movie, titled “True Stories.” A quotation credited to Allen says, “People tell me it’s country music, and I ask, ‘Which country?’” Allmusic calls his 1979 release, “Lubbock (On Everything),” “one of the finest country albums of all time.” He is considered a founder of the alt-country movement.

Two Tons Of Steel is a San Antonio, Texas-based group that has packed the small bars and local hangouts and quickly became one of the Alamo City’s most popular bands, earning it a spot on the cover of Billboard Magazine in 1996. The band has collected a number of awards. To date, Two Tons has won band of the year on 12 separate occasions and album of the year for its self-titled debut. Two Tons has also been named best country band by the San Antonio Current 10 times. The group was also featured in several Texas tourism commercials, along with the opening scene for “Austin City Limits.”

Venues are all over town, so pick a night, wander up Main Street and keep your ears open. For more information, check out

Editor’s note: For those who care about such things, in New Mexico, it’s spelled “chile,” but since Red River has such a strong connection with Texas, where it’s spelled “chili,” we’ll let it slide.

Schedule of events

Thursday (Aug. 17)

5 p.m. at the Lost Love Saloon: “Welcome to Red River Happy Hour” with special sit-in guests

8:30 p.m. at the Motherlode Saloon: Outside song swap with Mike McClure, Richard Leigh, Keith Sykes and Larry Joe Taylor, followed by inside band and show with The Rifters

Friday (Aug. 18)

9 a.m. at the Love Lost Saloon: “Bloody Mary Morning” with Joe Forlini

Noon at “The Tip”/ mountaintop concert: Richard Leigh and Keith Sykes

3 p.m. at Brandenburg Park (gates open at 2 p.m.): Mike Addington and Colin Brooks, Erick Willis, Terry Allen and Flatland Cavalry

9 p.m. at the Motherlode Saloon: LJT Band, Mike McClure and Michael Hearne and South by Southwest

Saturday (Aug. 19)

9:30 a.m. at Brandenburg Park (gates open at 9 a.m.): “New Mexico Music Showcase,” Cole Risner, Kaitlin Butts, Shake Russell, Tejas Brothers, Larry Joe Taylor and Josh Weathers

9 p.m. at the Motherlode Saloon: Larry Joe Taylor and friends with Two Tons of Steel

Artists, times and venues are subject to change.


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