Teresa James
Teresa James

FARMINGTON — Teresa James remembers her family hosting jam sessions at their house and inviting neighbors to participate when she was growing up.

She said her parents' love for music was one of the driving factors behind her decision to become a musician.

James and her band the "Rhythm Tramps" will be headlining the upcoming Animas River Blues and Brews Festival, which starts with a kick-off party on Friday and continues Saturday in Aztec.

James started out as a classical musician but became interested in Blues music after hearing Janis Joplin sing.

"I had never seen someone sing with so much heart," she said.

She and Joplin grew up in similar areas in Texas and have had similar influences. Their music sounds similar.

"The main thing that runs through all the music that I listen to, personally, is that I believe it," she said.

All the bands she listens to have influenced the type of music her band produces and the sound seems to be working for The Rhythm Tramps. The band recently won the Independent Music Awards for the most popular blues band for the second year in a row.

James said the award was "pretty cool because we're not that well known."

They are now working on a new CD, which is being recorded in analog instead of digital.

"When everything switched to digital, it kind of took a while to get used to the sound," she said.

She said she was excited to hear the analog sound again.

In addition to recording in analog, the band is also "slimming down" the trumpet and horn section and making the music simpler. This enabled the entire band to record in the studio at the same time.

"It was really fun all playing together," she said.

She said she is looking forward to releasing the CD later this year.

"It's always such a growing experience," she said. "Every CD, it feels like it's just another twist or turn."

She said she thinks each CD she releases is a little better than the last. So far, she has released seven blues albums and one country album.

James is also looking forward to performing in New Mexico for the first time this weekend at the Animas River Blues Festival.

The festival is entering its ninth year and has been popular since it started.

"I don't think you can ever have too many live music concerts," Katee McClure, a festival organizer, said.

She said there is a large demand in the area for live music.

"There's only so much you can get from looking at your iPhone or iPad," McClure said.

The festival started nine years ago when McClure was writing for the Aztec Talon.

"I was writing for Talon, so I decided to write about it," McClure said.

She took over the festival after the original organizers left.

The first year, Animas River Arts and Entertainment hoped to have a couple hundred people at the festival. Around 900 people showed up.

Next year McClure said the organization hopes to expand the festival into an entire weekend.

"How often can you see seven bands in a condensed weekend and still have money in your pocket?" McClure said.

All-day passes to the festival are $22 for Saturday and $12 for the kick-off concert at Crash Music.

"We want people to enjoy the live music in this area on a regular basis without feeling like they have to dip into their savings," she said.

IF YOU GO

What: Animas River Blues and Brews Festival

When: Doors open at noon Saturday. There will be a kick off concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Crash Music in Aztec

Price: $22 Saturday. $12 Friday

More info: animasriverblues.com/

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.