Over 20 years ago, I met a woman playing a game of pool at the local watering hole in Socorro, New Mexico. The Capitol Bar, which is still in business today, is a New Mexico Tech student hangout, and is often patronized by local musicians, or musicians passing through to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Cruses, or El Paso. Back in the day, Socorro used to be a silver mining town. Hence, the letter "M" stands proudly emplaced on the town's backdrop mountain. The Cap was a place I had many gigs with Gene, Owen, and many other musicians. It was my home away from home because of the musicians I could meet there.
One evening, I got to talking with this very friendly woman who'd I'd never met before, and the subject turned towards guitars. I let her know I still had my mom's old Danelectro U-1, circa 1956. Well, as it turned out, her husband, Rob also had an old Danelectro. I say had, because he gave it to Billy Gibbons (a great story only Rob can tell), from ZZTop. So, she went to go grab Rob so we could talk shop. And that's how I met Rob Lopez. Simple as that.
Rob is a retired heavy equipment operator at the local explosives test range featured many times on Myth Busters. I say he's blessed to play guitar. Anyway, over the years I was in Socorro, I was in and out of several bands, and Rob would always stop by to check things out. He got fairly impressed with my improvements during my time there. And always encouraged me. He would say, "Guitar is like a burrito. The more stuff you put in it the better it gets." And I, of course, would always encourage him to get out and play out. You see, nobody should keep their light under a basket.
Rob is the kind of player who completely goes into outer space when he plays. You can tell music takes him to another place. And that's what I love about him. He's a bit of a one trick pony. But he loves the trick (anything played in E minor)! And you can tell.
A few weeks ago, Rob and I reconnected, and shared CD's. I was very impressed. If you'd like to hear some of his music, follow this link. Talk about heavy blues. Sheesh.
Socorro is a gem of a little town. Not only does it have one of the best colleges in the union, complete with an explosives test range, it is filled with people like Rob, who are incredibly curly musicians. I have been blessed to play with many of them.
In my website bio, I mention that Owen Ford, Tracy Depue, Jessica Roth, Rob Long played in a band called "Magic Bucket and the Bed Spins". Our shows weren't consistent because it was hard finding time to practice and get 4 hours of music in per show. And we had a memorably horrible show in Albuquerque with a sound man from hell, but that's another story. Plus, we didn't get paid. But before that there was Subito, a little band Gene Cole, Billy Sevadra, Coby Ruiz and many drummers played in. I gained some experience in that band, thanks to Gene and Coby, but ultimately Owen won me over to play a punk/new wave thing. And it was fun! But again, I digress here.
If you're ever passing through Socorro, go to the college website www.nmt.edu, and see if Rob's band is taking the stage at the Macy Center (where I used to work before I got to graduate school setting up the PA's and lights for the likes of Arlo Guthrie). [Yes, my college life was very active, and I did a lot of stuff while I was there.]
Rob still is one of the many reasons I stayed mostly sane in such a small town. The music made me a ton of long and endearing friends. There are many other folks I'll likely write about.