Bands to Watch from Santa Fe
While much of New Mexico's live music scene revolves around songwriters and roots bands, Albuquerque has its own underground scene, and a few of its bands have earned some mainstream success. Playing a kind of post-punk power pop, Lousy Robot have released three albums and had their music featured on MTV, the Travel Channel, Bravo and Animal Planet. Another band, the two-piece Elevator Boys, play a bashing style of garage-psych.
The James Douglas Show, an outlandishly costumed, six-piece "funk-n-soul-n-rock-n-roll" band, has shared stages with Tom Petty, Keith Urban and Sammy Hagar, and they are the house band for the syndicated TV show The After After Party, hosted by Breaking Bad alum Steven Michael Quezada.
Santa Fe's the Strange play their own brand of original "desert rock," fashioning themselves as young outlaws and touring throughout the West. Based out of Taos, the Art of Flying, composed of former San Franciscans Dave and Anne Costanza, play a kind of modern freak-folk, an acoustic-based music layered with reverb and distinctive touches including a bicycle bell. Another musical couple, Las Cruces' Far Corners (originally from Boston), play a noisier, electric style of minimalism.
For the last few years, the state's Music Awards have been dominated by hONEyhoUSe, a trio of female songwriters – Hillary Smith, Yvonne Perea and Mandy Buchanan – who draw from blues, gospel, soul and Americana to form a unique blend that is distinctly regional. This year, the group won the Norman Petty Producer's Award for their album Medicine Lodge.
Local favorite Wild Frontier have been compared to "Joni Mitchell's long-lost sister backed by a haunting Western band." Their recent album Americana Motel features the spaghetti Western-style title track and a New Mexico-centric reworking of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper."
E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier: Press/Reviews/News
2013 New Mexico Music Awards honored
E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier winning
Best Americana Song for Townes!
A song Christina wrote about the great singer /songwriter Townes Van Zandt and his journeys from Colorado to Texas back and forth through New Mexico.
Headin' For A Wreck on the No Depression Music Player!
#1 with a Bullet!
"Albuquerque's E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier is all about Americana.
Yeah, there are some similar acts floating around New Mexico,
but this one offers you plenty of bang for your buck." ---Santa Fe Reporter, March 2012
Chrissie Hynde, Joni Mitchell, Wanda Jackson and Demi Lovato – a short list of singers that may remind you of E. Christina Herr, whose voice sails on a countrified breeze of bass, pedal steel, harmonica, twangy guitars and drums.
Blending rock, folk, rockabilly and gothic country, Herr and her band, Wild Frontier, serenade audiences with colorful tales about the West and Southwest. --- Pasatiempo, Santa Fe New Mexican, 2011
In between Jim Lauderdale & Shelby Lynne Christina gets interviewed by Mike from Concert Blast!
Live from the Mercy Lounge in Nashville, TN!
Bringing It Home
E. Christina Herr was told by her mother that her melodies are as soothing as lullabies. Her words, however, often convey stories of life’s sometimes treacherous twists and turns, and thus she titled her first New Mexico album Lullabies & Cautionary Tales. So don’t listen to this CD at bedtime—the lyrics are often haunting. Besides, you’ll find your toes tappin’ hard enough that you might hop out of bed to dance. Folks who like the vocal style of the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde and the gritty lyrics of Lucinda Williams will enjoy this disc, which Herr describes as Western Gothic. She uses her alto voice to sing words with crystal-clear enunciation, and can handily sustain notes with a pleasing vibrato.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Herr moved as a youngster to California. Besides growing up in a musical family, she had the good fortune of having Linda Ronstadt as a neighbor. Ronstadt served as Herr’s mentor, taking her to many musical performances. Herr went on to perform in many California bands, and was involved in the alt-country scene there before moving to New Mexico five years ago. “I had visited this place for 20 years and I feel so at home here,” she says, adding that New Mexico has helped her hone her songwriting skills and has brought her much happiness. “A lot of people talk about the dangers of Craigslist.com,” she says, “but I put an ad out looking for musicians and ended up with a great partner”—referring to Martin Rowell, who plays acoustic and electric guitars. Rowell hails from Louisiana, and has become Herr’s life partner as well as her bandmate. The two form the core of her band, Wild Frontier, which has featured a variety of players over the past few years.
On Lullabies & Cautionary Tales Herr plays acoustic guitar, a vintage bass guitar, and tambourine, and also brought in two young Albuquerque musicians who regularly perform with the popular blues guitarist Ryan McGarvey, as well as with their own group, Grand Canyon. The pair, Samuel Beath Miller (bass) and August Hunter Johnson (drums, percussion, congas), add much energy to Herr’s album. Jim Mooney plays the lilting mandolin.
“One Road,” “Whiskey Flats,” and “Going Back” demonstrate Herr’s ease in composing country melodies. “One Road,” a great two-stepper, captures the feeling of taking one’s chances along the various paths chosen in life, in the blind faith that they will lead to the heart’s desire. Herr asks, “Will I wander forever? Will I find my way? / Will there be a garden at the end of my traveling day?” Once a designer of gardens, Herr finds the garden a great symbol for contentment and peace amid life’s chaos. Anyone who has spent a spring in the Land of Enchantment can probably relate to “Devil Wind.” Herr, an avid cyclist, said the lyrics came to her while she was riding in a windstorm. In the song’s background, you can hear windy, atmospheric sounds. The musical accompaniment is often unsettling, with psychedelic electric-guitar riffs and what sound like voodoo rhythms. In the refrain, Herr sings, “Devil wind makes me crazy / Makes me hot, makes me cold / Devil wind rubs up against me / Makes me mad, makes me old.” Herr rocks out on several tracks here. The playful classic-rock sound of “In Memory” contrasts well with the pensive lyrics, in which Herr reflects on a painful relationship. In the chorus, she laments, “Some people want to know / Was it worth the cost? / Some people want to know.” The album ends with a raucous rockabilly song, “Doggone Lonesome.”
--- Emily Drabanski – New Mexico Magazine, March 2010
Listen to Lullabies & Cautionary Tales, the latest release from Albuquerque band E Christina Herr and Wild Frontier, and at times it’s easy to think Joni Mitchell’s long-lost but equally talented sister has suddenly found herself backed by a haunting Western band.
Herr has been playing professionally since 1989, but her familial musical roots trace back to the 1920s when her grandfather was in a Dixieland jazz band in Virginia. Her career stems from varied influences, including childhood excursions with her friend Linda Ronstadt to Los Angeles night clubs and alt.country venues in the ’80s.
The band’s current Southwestern home influences its dry Western style. While the musicianship behind Herr’s clear voice is solid and steady, the tremulous soprano rings in over the players as an almost eerie reminder that these songs are not merely lullabies; they are cautionary tales about life in America, about what it is to exist in the West under vast skies and about the way experiences can follow you like a long shadow cast on sagebrush.
“Romance of Ghosts” by Bone Orchard. There are two covers on the record, including E. Christina Herr’s “Whiskey Flats.” Morgan- Eagle sings lead on this one, and she has a precise, almost breathy lead style and practiced vibrato. There’s a nice rolling feel to this tune, a pretty song with chiming mandolin.
Lullabies & Cautionary Tales E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier On the outer perimeter of the Western Music herd ride some ghostly figures. E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier are quite used to being out there. It's been their home ever since they appeared at the very first Western Music Association Festival in Tucson (1989)! They're still at it with a mix of acoustic and sort of an Ennio Morricone-tinged rock. Threaded through it are their Western lyric themes in songs like "Whiskey Flats," "Showdown," "Devil Wind" and "Ballad Of Clara Mae." Vocally Herr isn't your Western "norm" either. She brings an intriguing feel of certain 60s vocalists like Sandie Shaw and Lulu to the party. Folks with the widest acceptance and a varied music background will likely appreciate it.
This group's output rides easiest among the outlaw Western of players like Cowboy Nation or Bone Orchard. They do what they do well and with deliberate artistic vision, and it's all but guaranteed to make the more conservative element among us blanch at the thought of the adventure.
But exactly when were we ever "cutting-edge??" --- Rick Huff ~ Best of the West, 2009
A fine blend of Alt Country, good western and a little bit of punk to keep it edgy, E Christina Herr and Wild Frontier’s new release Lullabies and Cautionary Tales makes for great listening.
The songwriting is first rate highlighted by Herr’s excellent vocals and Martin Rowell’s fine textural guitar playing. The arrangements are tight and fun.
The band is aptly named “Wild Frontier” as of the new west and the heart of a courageous woman is depicted in cinematic detail on this cool CD.
Kate Mann, E Christina Herr & the Wild Frontier Trio 12/13/09 Blackbird Buvette
"There was a nice acousti-show at the Buvette tonight. I would’ve been content listening to Kate Mann sing her entire catalogue tonight, but since this was the Songwriter Listening Room show I decided not to be a Scrooge and kept my ears open for E Christina Herr and the Wild Frontier Trio.
I only heard a short set but enough to interest me in more especially when the Wild Frontier is in full effect rather than tonight’s abbreviated trio. It was nice work echoing Gram Parsons sort of tales, but with the drugs in much shorter supply and the bottle emptied last night. Her voice comes across as subdued Emmylou Harris meets Hejira-era Joni Mitchell with a touch of vibrato. " --- Issue #88, Captain America Wig Wam Bam
Let the Music Move You; to the Southwest
Nowhere but the southwest will you find Buddhists listening to folk music, New-Yorkers listening to mariachis, new-agers listening to country or yuppie professionals listening to Native American performers such as Bill Miller. Our musical universe here in the southwest is as much a melting pot as our population, and we thrive on it and subsequently, it thrives on us.
Two such mixes below, Indigie Femm, and E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier, are just right to satisfy our eclectic tastes.
Listen, and let the music move you, all the way to the southwest.