SILVER CITY — Like the blues? Well, you don't have to wait for the Silver City Blues Fest to hear some.
Tonight at the Buckhorn Saloon in Pinos Altos, the Andy T - Nick Nixon Band will bring their Nashville blues explosion to the tiny mountain town.
Celebrating the release of their first CD together, "Drink, Drank, Drunk," which has been called "an old-school barn-burner — the kind of disc that blows the dust — and the doors — off the Texas, Chicago, Louisiana, West Coast and deep soul traditions" the duo will surely have the Saloon shakin' as everybody knows Silver City residents love to dance, and love the blues.
While the new CD might be a debut release for these guys, the musicians are not newcomers. According to a news release, both men have decades-long resumes steeped in the blues culture.
James "Nick" Nixon got his musical education singing in church as a boy in his native Nashville and worked up to playing clubs on Nashville's famed Jefferson Street, which was Music City's answer to Memphis' Beale Street African-American entertainment district well into the 1970s.
"There were clubs all up and down Jefferson," Nick recounts. "Jimi Hendrix was one of the guys on the scene. You'd see him walking down the street with his guitar over his shoulder. Everybody knew Jimi and Billy Cox, who played in Band of Gypsys with Jimi later on."
Nixon's scrape with the big time came in 1974 when his group Past, Present and Future signed with Chess Records and released the single "Behind Closed Doors"/"Let's Boogie.
Over the years, he released six solo albums, and produced an album for gospel legends the Fairfield Four. In 2011 he appeared in director Mario Van Peebles' film "Redemption Road." His performance of "Rising Son Blues" is on the film's soundtrack.
Southern California native (now Nashville-based) Andy "T" Talamantez performed in various bands around Southern California until 1996, when Los Angeles-based Smokey Wilson practically plucked him off the stage for his first tour. In 1998, he began playing with Guitar Shorty, a Houston native known for his blistering six-string attack and on-stage acrobatics, who played the opening gig at the Buffalo Dance Hall during last year's Silver City Blues Fest. During his seven years on the road with Smokey and Shorty, Andy learned how to back up a vocalist with economy and perfection as he honed his own playing style, developing a clean, mile-wide tone that cuts to the essence of every song he plays with absolute precision. Andy recorded one album during that time, 2003's "Ready To Roll" by Smokey Wilson and the Andy T Band.
Andy T and Nick Nixon's union began on stage two years ago at the Nashville Blues Society's regular Sunday night jam, where Andy leads the house band. Given Music City's population of killer players, Andy was used to sharing the stage with high caliber performers. But when he heard Nick, it was love at first note.
"The first time Nick sang next to me on stage I got goose bumps," he recalls. "Nick sings like I'd like to be able to sing. He's a really fine guitarist, too, but when Nick steps up to the microphone, the bar is seriously raised for every other musician in the room. His singing inspires me to play guitar at my best."
As for Nick, he attests that "Andy plays great in every style of blues, so I like to just play rhythm and let him handle the hot stuff. But even when he's playing the hot stuff, Andy knows that the blues is about soul and feeling, not about playing a lot of notes. With Andy, there's no overplaying; he always gives me breathing room as a singer."
The duo will likely have their CDs for sale at tonight's gig. For a sample of their music, check out www.andytband.com.
If you go:
What: The Andy T - Nick Nixon Band
When: 7 to 10 p.m.
Where: Buckhorn Saloon, 32 Main St. Pinos Altos
Christine Steele can be reached at 575-538-5893 ext. 5802.