All posts by Venita Munir

Venita is a diverse writer, editor and doctor based in Melbourne, Australia. She has a lifelong love of music and travel, and writes music reviews and interviews. She has received awards for microfiction, has published short stories, and is completing her first novel about a solo female trucker in outback Australia. She dreams of desert roadtrips to a Calexico soundtrack.

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They’re Happy Days

Lone Piñon – Días Felices (Living Music Duplication, 2017)

This new release from New Mexico, the self-professed “land of enchantment”, is sure to get you dancing. Acoustic trio, Lone Piñon’s second album, (literally translated Happy Days), is a fiesta of music that pays homage to the borderland’s cultural roots. The band members hail from different geographic, cultural, and musical backgrounds but have come together since 2012 to revive the New Mexican Chicano string band style. According to the band’s bio, they “bring a devoted and explosive musicianship to Northern New Mexican… and Mexican music”.

It’s a challenge not to clap, tap, or sway along with these rhythms. Catchy melodies abound, the vocal harmonies sung in Spanish, English, and Nahuatl. The instruments also sing: violin, accordion, guitar, guitarrón, and upright bass. Multiple themes recur and duel. Some are upbeat and some are dark and mesmerising. Some songs sound like soundtracks, some a wedding jig, some a square dance.

The opening instrumental track, “El Borrachito”, is a celebratory introduction and heralds the party to follow. Another fifteen tracks of dance music and crooning ballads demonstrate Lone Piñon’s complex repertoire.

Standout tracks are: “Estas Lindas Flores”, a duet of vocals and accordion in a jolly hoedown; “El Querreque”, a toe-tapper in huapango style; and “La Llorona”, alternating brisk fiddle and doleful lament that tells a clear narrative with or without lyrics.



Listening to this album highlights the pleasure to be derived from cross-cultural relationships. These Días Felices are uplifting.



Buy Días Felices in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Días Felices in Europe


Paris Texas via Tucson

Naïm Amor and John Convertino – The Western Suite and Siesta Songs (Living Music Duplication, 2016)

The first thing that springs to mind listening to Naïm Amor and John Convertino’s new instrumental album, The Western Suite and Siesta Songs, is the 1984 movie, Paris, Texas and Ry Cooder’s atmospheric soundtrack. It’s a coincidence, given Amor is a Parisian musician living in Tucson, while Convertino still works in Tucson but resides in El Paso, Texas. The duo’s new album was recorded in Arizona and Ohio, mixed and finished in Tucson and released by Albuquerque label, Living Music Duplication.

It’s a collaboration of open possibilities, a strong sense of place and a deep love of landscape. And it’s the openness that makes it stand out – their openness to cross cultures and continents in pursuit of their own sound. On his website, Amor describes the record as “the perfect soundtrack to a drive through the desert Southwest”.

The record opens with “Round Em Up”, a pared back western soundtrack a la “The Good The Bad and The Ugly” complete with a whistled theme. “Rye Grass Waltz” has a whimsical feel, all blue sky and golden grasses dancing, though you could equally be sipping a crisp vin blanc in Montmartre. The haunting “Of Dust and Wind” evokes the unease and isolation of the desert. “Jelly-Roll Tango” was a piece touted for Convertino’s band Calexico, but works beautifully in this collection – get that red rose between your teeth.

Both of these multi-talented guys play numerous instruments on the record: Amor the guitars, strings, lapsteel voices and whistles, and Convertino the drums, pianos, marimba, vibraphone and glockenspiel. They penned half the tracks each, then added their own influences to each other’s. It’s not the first time they’ve collaborated, with Amor having contributed to Calexico’s Feast of Wire and Convertino having played in ABBC (Amor Belhom Burns Convertino). It’s a fun listen, perfect for daydreaming and a siesta.

Buy The Western Suite and Siesta Songs in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy The Western Suite and Siesta Songs in Europe