All the Unique Music in West Texas Isn’t in Marfa, Pat Baker of Texas Says
The Big Bend is well known for its vibrant visual arts scene, Pat Baker of Texas says, but it also produces an abundance of home-grown music. From electronic to rap to acts that feature the region’s bilingual heritage, the Big Bend of West Texas is becoming a burgeoning music destination.
And all the action isn’t in Marfa.
To be sure, headliners like Solange and St. Vincent in Marfa generated a great deal of buzz. The famously isolated public radio station in Marfa periodically makes headlines of its own. But more people come to hear music generated by musicians in the famous local “shuffle” than any other local acts, Pat Baker of Texas says.
The shuffle refers to the fact that, for most Big Bend musicians, performance is a side gig. Marfa public radio DJ David Beebe, for example, came to Marfa in 2007. He set up a local music venue that has since decamped to do layups at Marfa’s Hotel Saint George. At some point, Beebe became a Presidio County Justice of the Peace.
Musicians like Beebe, and Pat Baker of Texas says, “shuffle” from one job to another, making a living, and living their art. But some of the shufflers in the Big Bend area in the next town, a mere 59 miles down US 67 to the Mexican border, Presidio.
Presidio Mayor John Ferguson and his family have a shuffle to rival the shuffle in Marfa. Their variety dance band The Resonators offers “horn, vocals, and groove,” and moonlight as a mariachi band called Mariachi Santa Cruz. Sometimes described as “total badass,” the Resonators are still just a small part of the Big Bend music scene.
Pat Baker of Texas comments:
- No Nombres is a three-person instrumental band that “makes people dance.”
- Kashmir, also known as Rapper Joel Hernandez. Kashmir started laying tracks with surprisingly layered beats and lyrics about gender and race.
- Primo Carrasco. Another DJ for Marfa Public Radio, Primo Carrasco sometimes teams up with Beebe to perform éxitos viejos, classic polka-inflected conjunto and norteño hits from Chihuahua.
- Marfa Municipal Alliance for Dead Country and Folk Singers. Every few months, a group of about two dozen shufflers gathers in the Big Bend to commemorate the lives of dead country and folk singers of the Big Bend. Some performances have raised money for an orphanage across the border in Ojinaga.
Pat Baker of Texas is the premier photographer of the natural and cultural wonders of the Big Bend. Baker has been very keen on taking photographs of optical phenomena in the world. His photographs have captured dynamic landscapes due to his ability to capture the changing light conditions with the best camera positions. Capturing the beauty of the Big Bend on film, he has become an advocate for environmental preservation in the Big Bend and far beyond.