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On Monday, May 6, the Mesilla Valley Musician’s Guild held their monthly “jam session” at Hurricane Alley. Once again, I was blown away by the level of talent and professionalism to be found in our little southwestern city.

It was my first time at one of these events, because I and the LC52 boys had been invited to film it. The ultimate goal is to create a promotional piece for the Guild, which, judging by the footage we captured, shouldn’t be a problem.

For two and a half hours the musicians rotated across the stage, accompanying one another on three or four tunes before reconfiguring into yet another group. In that way, everybody had the opportunity to perform in a variety of styles, from hard rock and jazz fusion to folk and country. Original compositions  were introduced alongside covers of popular tunes, but all were given new twists via musicians who had, up until that moment, never played together before. It really was a magical evening, made all the better by a large and very enthusiastic crowd of live music aficionados.

I have always hated naming names, for fear of forgetting somebody, but I was told by several of the regulars, including coordinators David Jacko and Chris Wollord, that there were professional musicians (by which I mean working indie artists who regularly produce albums of original work for public consumption) present who had never made an appearance before, like Randy Granger, Alison Reynolds, Tom Foster Morris and Travis Manning. It made for a potent mix that never flagged during the entire course of the evening.

It’s far too easy to dismiss this as a fluke by saying that many of the artists only made an appearance because they had heard that cameras would be present. That infers egotism, which honestly was never on display. In fact, I think it’s more of an indication of the community that exists here in Las Cruces, because having professionals working alongside amateurs only served to create a dynamic promotional piece to advance the cause of the MVMG.

Another development that will do so is the recent announcement that three of our local musical acts have been nominated for the 2013 New Mexico Music Awards: C.W. Ayon, the Hard Road Trio and Randy Granger. The event is juried by music industry professionals living in New Mexico and the winners will be announced at the ceremony to be held on May 19 in Albuquerque. Ayon and Granger have also been invited to perform at the banquet.

Considering that southern New Mexico acts have been historically underrepresented in the NMMA, which has been recognizing New Mexico artists since 1987, this is a small coup for Las Cruces and the MVMG. It is further enhanced by the fact that two of the acts, the Hard Road Trio and Randy Granger, have performances here in town on Friday, May 17th. The Trio will perform at the historic Rio Grande Theatre and Granger will give a free community concert at Trails West Senior Community.

Having worked with all three acts, I am thrilled that they are being so honored. They are all very hard workers and really do represent the cream of the crop here in southern New Mexico. We will be very well represented up north on May 19th. Having had Randy take part in the MVMG shoot at Hurricane Alley on Monday will only serve to add cache to the promotional video, especially if he walks away with an award. Even if he doesn’t, he’s still a star in our little corner of the universe and we are all very lucky to be recipients of his generosity.

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Speaking of film work, pre-production on my next short film, Blunt Offerings, is now underway, with a shooting schedule planned for May 25th and 26th. I met with producer Marcela Salmon and DP Kent Harkey on Friday the 3rd to get the ball rolling, brainstorm a few ideas and make sure that we are all on the same page. As writer and director, I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to have these folks working with me on this project.

The energies produced by that meeting must have affected my subconscious, because over the weekend, I completed two more scripts for the series, bringing the grand total to four, counting Baking Dead and Blunt Offerings. Ideas for future installments continue to shimmy and whirl around seductively in my brain pan.

On Sunday evening, I met with my two principal actors for a table reading and was very pleased by what I heard and saw. If everything goes according to plan and the final result is deemed worthy by Marcela and myself, we are hoping to enter the film into the White Sands International Film Festival, the deadline for which is mid-June. All of the players are now on board with the decision.

I only mention that here, because the decision really seemed to inform the performances of my principals, who now feel invested in the project, knowing that it has the potential to be seen by a much larger audience than the first one. We have scheduled several rehearsals for the cast over the next three weeks in the hopes of being as ready as possible on shooting dates.

Considering the level of talent I have working on this project, I have very high hopes that it will be an exceptional offering. Bluntly speaking, of course.

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