Chris Arellano and his older brother Rodney are important people in the northern New Mexico music scene. The audience at the Fourth Annual Nuevo Americana Music Festival this past July 31 witnessed a masterpiece of sound coming together—poetry in motion. Chris says, “We decided to start our own festival based on the summer school of rock [which Chris has produced and directed]. I try to keep it as diverse as I can—different genres of music; blues, country…”
The bands included in this year’s festival were: Felix Gato & Eli Del Puerto; Gonzalo; Spiral Pilots; Alto; Carlos Medina; Lara Manzanares; Chris & Rodney Arellano, and Taos’ Jimmy Stadler. Sponsors for the Music Festival included: Centinel Bank, Ace Hardware, El Monte Carlo of Questa, and Mountain Range Supply and Transport in Costilla.
The venue was the Torres Ranch, 4400 Highway 522, just past the gas station at Costilla. The setting offered peace, tranquility, and privacy. A fleet of campers and tents came early and parked adjacent to a pond where children and dogs played and “grown-ups” danced nearby. Others toe-tapped or sang along with the music, and many crowded the concrete dance floor. Many were quite skilled at dancing. Diverse vendors offered eats, information booths, and jewelry for sale. “Everyone was pretty hyped that they could camp here overnight. The music went on until midnight or 1 am… If people wanted to get out of the city, this was a good place to be!” said Chris.
The feel of a family reunion filled the air. Most people knew one another and yet this was a family in which one would like to belong, that also welcomed newcomers. The crowd was upbeat, enthusiastic, and filled with joy, this could be the best music festival of the summer. There is great confidence that it will continue to grow, it’s refreshing Spanish American vibe featured music in both languages.
Chris explains, “Right now, it is such a baby festival that I don’t have a whole crew lined up. If bands or vendors of any kind are interested, they should contact me directly. I am hoping by next year I will have a whole committee.” Those who attended would not likely call this a baby festival; the crowd of 500-600 rivaled other similar events and the overall plan was well thought-out and professional.
It was a friendly, casual atmosphere. There was food for sale and patrons were permitted to bring coolers with food and drinks. Heaters dotted the outdoor space and while there was a slight rain, it didn’t dampen the mood—only reminding folks that we are, in fact, in the west where weather is unpredictable. The crowd was a blend of Coloradoans and New Mexicans, elder and younger, male and female, families and friends.
The Arellano family’s roots run deep in Costilla. “In this town alone, we have been here since 1600-something… —five centuries. This spot where I have the festival is where I grew up camping. To have this be a venue now is fantastic,” he said.
The Arellano family comes to the music business naturally. Their father, Jake, raised them to perform in their family band. On most Friday nights, Chris and Rodney play from 6 – 8 pm at the 101 Bar and Grill in Garcia, Colorado, (formerly the Crazy Beaver). Sometimes their mom, Henrietta, sits in and sings. Chris’s sister Rochelle, who lives in Denver, joined in during the 2021 festival.
For those who play live music and their audiences, COVID-19 has presented challenges. A night with Chris and Rodney Arellano reminds us of how much it was truly missed. Chris and his wife, Amanda Johnsrud, moved back to the area in the last year from Oregon. “One of the main reasons I am doing the 101 gig is that my wife is a partner in the restaurant, and this is my hometown. She is bringing Oregon flavor to New Mexico.” The 101 Bar and Grill has become a regular gathering spot, with Chris’s music and Amanda’s food. And, the 101 now has a liquor license with drinks to match the creative and tasty cuisine.
Come visit the 101 Bar & Grill and be sure to catch live music on Friday nights. They are open Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 am – 8 pm and Sundays 9 am – 5 pm. Find them at 101 County Rd 13.2, Garcia, CO 81152. For information call (719) 672-9022 or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/101bargrillgarcia/