Sunday, May 15, 2011

Train of Thought

Our surroundings speak to us, each locale has its own aural soundscape, a distinct voice and dialect, a swirl of sounds that ebb and flow like oceans tides. The first thing you notice about Deming besides the constant wind, are the train whistles, for 130 years they've filled the flats of Northern Luna County with their mournful blasts. Each tone has a purpose and like whales in the ocean the west bound trains call out to the eastbound trains. Over the years you recognize the cadence, those sharp sustained tones that signal the approach to a crossing, the fast shrill blasts who's meaning escapes me and the short muted tones that are used in the dead of night. It's the night whistles that I love, when you live with them they rarely lull you out of your sleep. However, every once in a while, I'll wake up at two a.m. to the sound as it blankets the city like a milky fog, it's a thing of beauty. The whistle is so soft that it almost sounds apologetic, in bed I imagine the train tip toeing it's way through Deming, trying carefully not to wake us from our slumber. The next thing you notice about Deming is the sirens or as a contractor from Las Cruces once told me: "For a small town you guys sure have lots of crime."  I can't deny that, the sirens, like the rumbling of semi-truck tires emanating from I-10, are also a way of life. Deming is and will always be about transportation: trains, trucks, automobiles and aircraft.  It's a modern environmental force that combines  with nature to produce an ambient form of natural sound.
Deming hasn't produced any musicians of note, with the exception of composer Nacio Herb Brown, who wrote movie scores for several Hollywood musicals including the effervescent  "Singing in the Rain" He is well thought of in his hometown and even has a park named after him, which locals have taken to calling  "Nacho Park." Nacio like most Hollywood men of the age was a hard drinking womanizer who always had fond memories of his hometown. He returned at the height of his career to accept full honors from an adoring community, he even took time to write the school fight song ("Fight 'em Wildcats, Fight 'em Wildcats..till you're way ahead")  In 1955, Fats Domino gave a concert in Deming, no punches were pulled in The Deming Graphic's report:  "Renown musician Fats Domino arrived in Deming by motor car for an evening concert at the Armory. Mr. Domino appeared to be in an inebriated state and was further observed tipping the bottle before taking the stage. He continued drinking during his performance, which incidentally was cut short due to his incapacitated condition. This led to an angry chorus of protests from several attendees who demanded satisfaction. Their complaints fell on deaf ears as the musician and his entourage had made a quick exit from the venue. This left the hapless promoter of the event to face the mob of angry patrons demanding a full refund.
The hard touring Texas band Baby, made regular stops in Deming during the early 1970's. Led by guitarist & singer, Johnny Lee Schell, Baby had a style similar to other Texas bands like ZZ Top, Bloodrock & Nitzinger, They called themselves  "The Little Ol' Band from Texas" a phrase that ZZ Top brazenly stole from them, leading Baby to file an injunction and take Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard to court. The band would also file a lawuit against John Waite and The Babys (a U.K. pop rock band) over the rights to the name Baby(s)  The courts would rule against them in both cases, which combined with the low sales of their second lp "Where did all the Money Go?" forced the band to fold. This leads me to The Majestic Knights, I don't know if they ever recorded anything, they were a brown eyed soul band that played anyplace that would have them. They played every Sonny Osuna and Little Joe y La Familia song you could think of, mixed with a healthy dose of Santana, Malo, Redbone and War. They lived on our block and once a week the band would rehearse in their garage. Mind you this was a full band with brass, keyboards, guitars and it was a small garage. The sound would reverberate down the street, as most of the neighborhood would sit outside and listen to them practice.  We weren't always allowed to go over there, they were after all...musicians. 
Deming music over the last thirty or so years can be summed up in one person: Bob Forbes. Recording as RedEyeC, he plays in a style similar to  Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. RedEyeC however is not just Bob Forbes, it's a  collaboration of musicians that includes Pascal Gregory and Corrado Rossi. RedEyeC has released several albums of instrumental rock, including a three vol. "Best of" series. Forbes has recorded two additional albums of Christian Music under the guise of his outreach mission, Forbes Ministry of Music. While he is a guitar virtuoso with few equals in this part of the country, Bob also sings when the need arises, he renders a beautiful version of "Ave Maria" recorded at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Deming. He has also recorded a vocal version of Bread's "If" he's not a great singer, but he does tug at your heartstrings. RedEyeC is not for everyone, just like Satriani or Malmsteen the repetitiveness of the music can be numbing. On the other hand it's the perfect soundtrack for a quiet reprise from the working day or for watching another spectacular Luna County sunset. Deming is an island, for years it was the furthest civilized point south of Santa Fe. This is not a dull land, it's vibrant and alive in a way that only a people who have long lived on the edge of an empty void can really understand. This is the frontier, beyond us there is another world, we are where America begins and ends. "When you are here, you know where you are, you are home and it feels like home."
Mr. Bob Forbes aka RedEyeC