These days, Dwayne Ortega is busy playing music with his band. He's booked for two or three nights most weekends. And, that's just the way he likes it.
For the past 18 years, this Questa native has poured his heart and soul into his singing. Earlier this year he was rewarded for his efforts, winning the coveted Male Vocalist of the Year Award from the New Mexico Hispano Music Association.
Come celebrate summer solstice, the longest day of the year, Thursday (June 21) from 6-8 p.m., with the Dwayne Ortega Band at Taos Plaza Live. The concert is part of the free summer concert series that takes place most Thursdays throughout the summer and is produced by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by local businesses.
Ortega said this Taos Plaza Live show gives people the opportunity to see what traditional New Mexico Spanish music is about.
"They may not totally understand what we're saying, but they can feel the energy. They can see the joy of people experiencing it and dancing to it," Ortega said.
He says he loves seeing how the music makes people happy. "I love seeing a dance floor full of people enjoying my music … You feel that energy. The energy from the dance floor comes back to you, and you want to feed back into it. That's the most rewarding feeling … We pride ourselves on being a dance band. Our job is to get the people up on the dance floor .. I want to see them moving."
Members of the band are Dwayne Ortega (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar), Darren Trujillo (drums), Andy Chávez (bass) and Jonathan Chávez (guitar).
Trujillo is originally from Coyote. He lives now in Río Rancho and owns his own auto electric shop in Albuquerque. Trujillo started out playing drums and performing at the age of 8 with his mother and father in their family band. Later, he started playing heavy metal, which has influenced his current drumming style.
Bass player Andy Chávez is from Alcalde. He started out, like Dwayne Ortega, playing mariachi music. Most of his time in bands has been spent playing saxophone, but he loves the opportunity to play the bass. The family of Andy Chávez is well-known in the Española area for their New Mexico Spanish music. His father is Andy, Sr., and his uncle is Steve Chávez; both are from the band La Lluvia.
"He comes from a family of pretty talented musicians," emphasized Ortega.
Jonathan Chávez (no relation to Andy Chávez is from Las Vegas, New Mexico. He had his own performing group in Las Vegas and has released a couple of CDs himself. "His style fit well with what I needed," said Ortega.
Although the band members are spread out across the region, they get together a few times a week to play for shows. "We play so often the shows keep us tight," said Ortega. In between their gigs, the band members will take out their acoustic guitars and work up new material. Ortega said he'll send recordings to his bandmates for them to work on during their own time as well.
The band is currently working on recording songs for a new CD that Ortega is hoping to release at the end of the summer. "It's going to be our typical mixture of our upbeat music - cumbias and rancheras. I always try to throw in a rock song or a country song in there," Ortega said.
A new ranchera that was recently recorded by the band will be released to radio stations in the next few weeks. "Eterna Noches" is a love song about the difficulty of being apart from the one you love. "A lot of the songs are about heartbreak," Ortega said. "But the music is upbeat, so you couldn't tell."
Ortega is recording the CD with Archie Maestas of ATM Studios. Maestas was formerly a member in Ortega's band and has remained a solid friend. "(Archie) has been a great friend and asset to me," Ortega said. "He's gone out of his way to help me."
Ortega takes pride in recording his music without pitch correction or other studio tricks. "When people hear my music, I want them to know what we'll sound like live," he said.
For their Taos Plaza Live show you can expect to hear "Eterna Noches" as well as many favorites. Ortega is happy to be back to share his music at Taos Plaza for the summer concert series.
To book the Dwayne Ortega Band for a venue or private event, contact Dwayne Ortega at (575) 770-2613 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.