Music

Ready to rock

Taos Plaza Live will feature local fave, The Damn Band

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Get ready to get down with The Damn Band tonight (Aug. 3) at Taos Plaza Live.

The free weekly summer concert series, which takes place from 6-8 p.m., will feature one of our town’s favorite bands – and with reason. The group consistently delivers a really good time.

The Damn Band performs as part of the series produced by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by local businesses.

Over the course of its history, a number of Taos musicians have played with The Damn Band, either as members or special guests. The current lineup is K. Bolan (guitar), Peter Vigil (bass), Mina Tank (vocals), Randy Morris (drums), Bob Andrews (keyboards) and Harlan Tafoya Kesson (percussion/rap vocals).

“We like to play funk and soul,” Vigil said. “But, number one, we’re a rock and roll band.”

Born in Los Angeles, California, Bolan grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California. Following this, he toured with rock bands before moving to New Mexico in the autumn of 1990. Since then, Bolan has worked full time as a singer, guitar player, songwriter and music producer.

Bolan is the main songwriter for the band’s original tunes. He has written about topics as varied as Taos’ Alley Cantina and the music industry in Los Angeles — all from the real-life perspective of the band members.

“K. is taking ideas from real-life situations, experiences the band has had, adventures we’ve had and putting them to words and music,” Vigil said. “He’s a very accomplished chordsmith, so …. musically, it can be quite complex. However, when you listen to it, it’s just a great song with a great feel.”

Lead singer Tank gained national attention when Ellen DeGeneres invited her on her television show in 2010 after noticing her online videos. Tank started out singing onstage with her family at the age of 3. She was in her first band, Plane Jane, at age 18. Tank took a 10-year hiatus from singing after becoming a mother, then auditioned for The Damn Band with Bolan.

“She’s a tremendous vocalist,” Vigil said. “She has a tremendous range. She has a soulful quality and can be as beautiful as a whisper or as powerful as any singer out there.”

Morris was onstage at last week’s Taos Plaza Live show with jam band Last to Know. Morris has been drumming since the age of 5. He comes from a musical family, including a great-uncle who played saxophone with the Glenn Miller Band during World War II. Before moving to Taos, Morris lived in Chicago, performing and touring as a professional musician. In addition to drumming with several local bands, Morris owns Gutiz restaurant, along with fellow musician Jennifer Peterson.

For the past decade, Kesson has been playing and producing music professionally. He has worked with artists such as The Wailers, Rakim, The BoDeans, Los Lonely Boys and many more. He adds rap-based vocals and percussion to The Damn Band’s sound.

“Mr. Kesson is the youngest one in the band; he gives us that young adrenaline and modern touch,” Vigil said.

In 1975, Andrews helped form Graham Parker and The Rumour. His work as a record producer led to several top 10 hits in the U.K. and Europe. Then, Andrews moved to New Orleans in the early 1990s, where he became rooted in the city’s musical culture before moving to Taos.

Vigil was born and raised in Taos. He began playing bass in seventh grade and has performed with local bands for more than three decades.

When asked what is the most fun aspect for him of being part of The Damn Band, Vigil praised his bandmates. “They’re all extremely talented musicians. They’re really, really, really good musicians. And, I have the tremendous opportunity to play with such gifted, talented people,” Vigil said.

Additionally, Vigil said the band is constantly looking at ways to improve its sound, acquiring new technology or better instruments and, of course, practicing. The band rehearses regularly up at Bolan’s studio in Red River.

“Everybody likes playing in the band. They like the energy it brings,” Vigil said.

Taos Plaza Live is one The Damn Band’s favorite annual shows to play. “It’s our favorite gig of the year because we get to share with people who don’t see us in the clubs,” Vigil commented. “That’s one of the only times my kids get to see me play live.”

Next week, Taos Plaza Live features the Averill Lovely Band and Bone Orchard. The Taos Plaza Live series continues through Aug. 31.

For more information, call (575) 751-8800 or visit taoschamber.com/taos-plaza-live-music-schedule.

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