Joe King Carrasco y El Molino Close Out Summer Lightnin’ Series
By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – It’s hard for a band to follow opening acts that wow an audience and leave them wanting more. Texas Johnny Brown led off the Summer Lightnin’ Series and set the tone for the Piney Woods Fine Arts Association (PWFAA) month long concert series. Two Tons of Steel brought their unique blend of rockabilly, punk and country to the Sallas Amphitheater and delighted the crowd. Ezra Charles set the night on fire last week. So what do you do for an encore? You bring in Tex-Mex royalty. Long time rockers Joe King Carrasco y El Molino closed out the concert series with, arguably, the best of the four shows.
Carrasco and his band have been around since 1976, in one incarnation or another, and show no signs of slowing down. Recently reuniting with original El Molino members Miller “Speedy” Sparks on bass and Ernie “Murph” Durawa on drums, the band also featured Chuggy Hernandez on keyboards / rhythm guitar and Art Martinez on saxophone.
Carrasco and his band brought a unique style of music to the amphitheater. Sometimes Jimmy Buffet, sometimes Los Lobos, sometimes surf music, but always with a Tejano flair, the band charmed the Crockett audience with a range of songs from their nearly four decades long catalogue.
Songs like “Anna” and “I Saw My Baby” from their most recent album “Tlaque Paque” and one of their first recordings “Tell Me” highlighted the musicianship of the band. Sparks, Durawa and Hernandez kept the rhythm of the music flowing while Carrasco and Martinez ventured off the stage several times and into the crowd. With Carrasco on lead guitar and vocals, he and Martinez wondered amongst the crowd, serenading individual audience members. Martinez clearly was at the top of his game and the sounds coming from his saxophone were simply amazing. While this may be blasphemy to some, the interaction between Carrasco and Martinez was reminiscent (not saying it was) of the Boss and the Big Man in their heyday.
Prior to taking the stage, Carrasco took a moment to speak to The Messenger. “We just came in from Mexico in Puerto Vallarta. We got here (in Texas) not last night but the night before. Last night we played in Austin.”
“Our tour schedule is pretty easy. The only thing is they didn’t turn on the AC for me here,” he laughed. “This is my band we started in 1976, Speedy and Ernie…now they play in the Texas Tornadoes.”
He said he and the other two original members of El Molino got together in the studio about a year ago to record two or three songs, but the old chemistry was still there and before they knew it, they had a new album.
Asked how he wound up in Crockett, Carrasco said, “We like it and we wanted to see where Lightnin’ Hopkins was from.”
PWFAA Executive Director Bryan Lake said the Summer Lightnin’ Series had been a success. “It went real well. Hopefully we will have a good turnout. We’ve averaged about 200 or 250 people, but we should have had thousands tonight. He (Carrasco) has played the Tonight Show, Letterman…..and it’s free. It should be packed. Bring your cooler, bring your blanket, hopefully next year we will see a bigger crowd.”
Regarding next year’s headliners, Lake said, “We’re looking at some things. We’ve got some good stuff…..legendary Texas things!”
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