IF YOU GO

What: Blues rockers The Plateros

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Crash Music’s new location at the Aztec Theater, 104 N. Main Ave.

Cost: $12

More info: Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Aztec Theater or SNS Skate Shop, 123 Main St., Farmington. For more information, call Crash Music at 505-427-6748 or go online at www.crashmusicaztec.com.

 

AZTEC — They played at President Barack Obama's first inaugural ball and toured with Los Lonely Boys, and now they're returning to Aztec.

The Plateros -- self-described purveyors of "southwest Native rock" -- will break in the stage at the newly restored and reopened Aztec Theater on Saturday. Crash Music is located in the historic theater.

It's a full circle return since the group performed several years ago at the grand opening of Crash's former location south of Chaco Street.

The trio, which hails from Tohajiilee about 35 miles west of Albuquerque, have performed nearly 300 shows from Seattle to New York City and have received numerous accolades and awards since their start eight years ago.

A family act, the all-Navajo group consists of Levi Platero, 21, on guitar and lead vocals, and his cousins, Bronson Begay, 23, on bass and backing vocals, and Doug Platero, 29, on drums.

As Levi Platero tells it, his earliest contact with music was at age 7, when he played gospel music on the drums with his family in the community church. He traded in the drums for guitar full-time after his dad, Murphy Platero, brought home a guitar one day and showed him some chords.

"My dad and our church are the foundation for my playing music," Levi Platero said. "Every Sunday, playing in church was always a family thing to help out during the service."

At first, his dad played bass and sang backup in the band, but he has since taken over managing the band after Bronson Begay -- who Levi Platero calls "my musical soul brother" -- came on board.

While Levi Platero took early inspiration from blues greats -- Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix and the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar," Albert, Freddie and B.B. King -- he credits his musical education and the band's rock-funk-pop sound to more than just the blues.

Through his teen years, he delved into a steady diet of hard rock and metal bands like Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, along with ample helpings of reggae and hip-hop, including Bob Marley, Cypress Hill and Sublime.

"In some ways, no matter what I was listening to or playing -- Buddy Holly, John Hiatt, Blind Boys of Alabama -- I barely heard a difference. The music spoke to me. Whatever I played, I feel like I just kept learning. It all came very natural to me," he said.

Levi Platero's smooth, soulful voice lends the band's songs a depth and feeling that belies his youthful age.

"I've played music for more than half my life. I'm aiming towards song writing that stands out," he said. "I've gotten really into the lyrics side of music."

And given the growing fan base and acclaim the band has seen, The Plateros' sound has absorbed the myriad influences just as naturally.

In 2006 and 2008, the group's second album "Hang On" was twice nominated for best album at the New Mexico Music Awards. In 2009, the group won best blues act at the awards. The group's debut video for the song "Forever I'm with You" garnered best music video at the 2009 American Indian Festival. The group also received best music video honors at the 2010 Dreamspeaker Film Festival in Alberta, Canada.

With two albums under its belt, the band is currently recording songs in an Albuquerque studio for a new album to come out later this year.

In the meantime, fans can enjoy the trio at select appearances in the Four Corners area this summer. One will be at the reopening of the historic Aztec Theater on Saturday.

"We are extremely fortunate to bring them back to help celebrate our new location," said George Rowe, who owns Crash Music along with Sue Rys. "They are an incredibly gifted family band who have an unreal amount of talent and are at full force on stage."

With help from the city commission, family and friends, the historic theater is back with fresh coats of paint, a new sound system and more djembes than it has ever seen before.

Bryan Paul, who will run sound at the theater, grew up in Farmington and has played keyboards with jazz legend Roy Ayers. He also played a stint with funk phenom Art Neville when he lived in New Orleans.

His expertise working sound at an all-ages Albuquerque club for eight years helped Rowe and Rys work with city commission to ensure their periodic use of a nearly 10,000-watt sound system would not violate the city's ordinance on sound levels. The theater sits footsteps from two churches and a day care center.

"We want to treat all our artists with quality equipment but still make it a place where families with children or grandparents feel at home," Paul said.

The 8,000-square-foot theater, then called the Mayan Theater, was originally built in 1927 by J. Oscar Mannin. Allens Theaters bought and remodeled it in the 1940s.

Its legacy as a movie theater will live on. With a large screen and rows of mid-century seats still intact, Rowe and Rys hope to offer movies in the future. They have plans to continue a regular series of live music, drum and guitar lessons and art shows. Also in the works is a hot dog bar, ping pong tournament and a beach party with hula lessons.

"To bring real value to the community, we're going to always favor the eclectic, the unexpected -- something you can't get elsewhere," Rowe said. "So many people have fond memories of this place. They grew up seeing movies and events here. It is in that spirit that we want to bring it back to life, a cultural and social oasis, the whole town, young and old, can enjoy. And The Plateros is the perfect way to show people here the theater is open."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.