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Profetic Calaveras: Bringing Life Through Music

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By Johnny Griffith

The name is fittingly memorable as the music they create and isn’t what you’ll find on most stages in the area on any given weekend. The Durango, Colorado trio known as Profetic Calaveras (PC) originated right here in Tyler and has been using their music to spread positivity ever since. An intriguing blend of several different influences, PC combines cultures and musical philosophies for a set full of grooves which will leave you smiling and wanting more.

As they are headed back to East Texas for a show at Clicks Live on June 1st, we recently caught up to Profetic Calaveras to find out more about them.

Johnny: What is the current lineup of Profetic Calaveras?

Profetic Calaveras: Alex Ruiz on guitar and vocals, Carolina Ruiz on bass, and Gab Kaplan on drums.

Johnny: Who do you individually feel was most responsible for starting you down a musical path, and why?

Alex: My cousin, Emmanuel, was the person who got me to listen to a lot of bands that became really influential for me later in life. He was the first person to get me started on guitar. A lot of my family is musical; I feel like it has always been flowing in my blood.

Cali: In 2015, my brother-in-law had a dream and woke up saying that I was meant to be a bass player. After that he taught me some technique. With my sister as the drummer, me as the bass player, and him (Kendrick) as the guitarist, we started playing. I wrote my first, very basic, riff within a week or so; it took some direction and guidance but that became one of our first songs as a band.

Gab: My parents took me to see The Who (what was left of them anyway) before the age of 7. They always took me to shows and supported me playing music in school and with bands. From high school marching band to college ensembles to Drum Corps International, they were always there cheering me on. As for actually starting, my babysitter Michelle was the one who got me my first guitar.

Johnny: Who were some of your biggest early musical influences?

Alex: Jimi Hendrix, Under Oath, Mexican pop music, Christian radio. I was all over the place.

Cali: Some Brazilian music my parents loved like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Gabriel Pensador, Seu Jorge, and Ana Carolina. And my main bass influence, Victor Wooten.

Gab: The Who, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Rush.

Johnny: When did the idea of PC begin to form?

Profetic Calaveras: After touring with Alex’s previous project called Star Steed, it felt like the music was starting to move in a different direction. All the members at that point begun to go their separate ways and Cali and Alex decided to create a project all their own.

Johnny: So what about that name? How did that originate and what’s the significance?

Profetic Calaveras: We brainstormed for a while. At one point Alex looked at the “Calavera” tattoo on his arm and said the name offhandedly. After that we decided that spiritually that meant a lot more to us. It reminded us of the scripture Ezekiel 37, where Ezekiel is taken to a field of dried bones in a vision and is asked to bring them to life with his words. He does this and raises an army. The band’s name to us basically means that we can bring life and color to people through our music, and its meaning celebrates the beauty of life. The Calaveras aspect is a nod to Alex’s Mexican heritage and the imagery that comes up with the Day of the Dead celebration.

Johnny: When and where was the first Profetic Calaveras show?

Profetic Calaveras: Technically, our first show was in NYC at a place called “The Shrine;” however, right before coming on stage one of Cali’s tuning pegs completely broke off. Needless to say the show didn’t go as planned and is probably one of the worst shows we ever played. So, our first official full band show was at ETX Brewing Company in Downtown Tyler. The line-up was Alex, Cali, Daniel Armstrong on melodica, and Eddie Farina on cajón.

Johnny: About how many shows a month does PC play these days?

Profetic Calaveras: We usually play 2-3 shows a month. We have been in a little bit of hiatus since moving to Durango and we are still trying to do some more recording to release our first album this fall, titled “The Road Ahead.”

Johnny: There is a very cool vibe to your music, a sort of laid back complexity. How would you describe your sound and how did that sound evolve as you started practicing and putting pieces together?

Profetic Calaveras: The sound is truly unique with us having difficulty to really pinpoint a specific “genre.” Sometimes we just tell people it’s like ‘Vulfpeck met Santana’ but there’s also so much more we like to sprinkle in. We like to think the band’s music is a mirror image of us as individuals, and that our differences and similarities form a cohesive unit. Lately, since Gab has joined the band, we’ve been really digging into a more progressive rock sound.

Johnny: What would you say the ratio of cover tunes to originals is?

Profetic Calaveras: Honestly, it’s about 80% original tunes to 20% covers. When we do covers, we really like to just make them our own, messing with different genres and time signatures.

Johnny: You originated in East Texas but are now based out of Durango, Colorado. What prompted the move and how has the reception been to the band up there?

Profetic Calaveras: Well, it started when we introduced a new member to the band, Zion Spencer. We booked a gig at the Venice Beach Bar in LA in September 2017, and were able to put together a West Coast tour that lasted about 3 months. Zion suggested we spend the winter in Durango, since he had lived here for 3 years and had family out here. When we finally got to Durango we fell in love with its chill mountain town vibe. It has been a privilege to grow roots here and call this place home. The reception to our music has been great; there is a thriving music scene there and they have welcomed us with open arms.

Johnny: Profetic Calaveras is playing a show at Clicks Live on June 1st. What brings PC back to East Texas for the show?

Profetic Calaveras: It’s actually a few reasons. We’ve wanted to show our newest member, Gab, our old stomping grounds, and the opportunity presented itself when we were asked to play our friend’s wedding in Denton. From there we decided to do a little mini-tour and go do the fun stuff in Texas — we’re calling it a “play-cation.”

Johnny: What is on the radar for the rest of 2019 and beyond?

Profetic Calaveras: We are planning some more dates around Colorado during the summer, and we’ll be releasing our first album “The Road Ahead” in the fall. 2019 is looking great!

Check out Profetic Calaveras at facebook.com/profeticcalaveras/ and profeticcalaveras.com.

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To list or make any changes to this Live Music Gig Guide for #tylertx, please e-mail to eguidemagazine@gmail.com. In the constantly changing world of Covid-19 pandemic, we at EGuideMagazine.com are making every attempt to keep everything updated. However, we suggest that you still double-check with the businesses to confirm that the events are still happening.

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Family

Cowan Center: Sept. 24th “Menopause the Musical”

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\For more events, check out EGuideMagazine.com ‘s entire

Wondering what is showing at the Cowan Center? 

“This is our 24th Season! We can’t believe it either! We promise to have lots of great talent again and will be gearing up as we celebrate a quarter of a century soon. Over the next 2 years we will be developing programming for new target audiences and upgrading our premiere venue known across the state and beyond as a magnet for amazing artists and shows.”

All events are performed in the Cowan Center located on the campus of The University of Texas at Tyler, 3900 University Boulevard – FAC 1120 in Tyler, TX (Google Map).

QUESTIONS? Call (903)566.7424. More information and TICKETS can also be found at CowanCenter.org. Watch for announcements on Cowan’s Facebook and Twitter pages too.

Upcoming acts are:

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Music

Keeping Her Groove: Lauren Alexander

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By Johnny Griffith

2020 hasn’t been a kind year for working musicians, or really just about anyone for that matter, but it certainly seems in the maelstrom of chaos created by Covid-19, the financial and creative toll for musicians hasn’t been getting front-page news. 

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See who is playing where at EGuide’s Gig Guide!

Between the complete shutdown, partial re-open, and then partial shutdown again, the number of stages up for grabs has shrunk dramatically, making gigs harder to come by. 

On top of that is the balancing act of health concerns for yourself and your family versus the desire to get out and connect with audiences and fellow bandmates. To say the landscape is challenging would be a gross understatement.

But musicians are a resilient, creative lot and have found various ways throughout the last few months to still get their music out for public consumption whether it be via live stream acoustic shows in their kitchens, new material available for streaming, or starting a podcast

All of these have given fans a much-needed connection to their favorite musicians, in a surprisingly more intimate setting, allowing for real-time requests and interactions as well as giving people an opportunity to still support the music with online donations via Paypal, Venmo, etc.

Speaking of podcasts (see what I did there?) I had the opportunity recently to sit down (virtually) with one of our local musicians, Lauren Alexander, and talk about how things have been going in the midst of the shut down for her, her family, and her band and what she’s been doing to stay occupied in 2020.

Johnny: First of all, great to get to interview you again. I think the last time we talked was in 2017 and you had a baby and a new album on the way. A lot has transpired since then, but how has the transition to juggling motherhood and being a full-time musician gone?

Lauren: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. Yes, a lot has changed since 2017. My baby is now 2 ½ and the world has gone mad! But seriously, besides the obvious hard times that are going on, things have been great. 

Motherhood has been the most incredible, rewarding journey. It was definitely a weird transition for me though, and something I’m sure I will always be working on. When you become a parent, everything changes. Everything becomes about somebody else, and there is SO much planning involved. If we’ve got a gig, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got a babysitter. I’ve got to make sure there are diapers, and toys, and snacks in the diaper bag. And most importantly, I have to make sure I raise a kind and loving human. 

I’ve definitely had to step up my game. I’ve never been much of a planner, I’m usually a “go with the flow and see what happens” kind of gal. So, yeah, the transition has definitely had its challenges. But I’ve grown in every area of my life. My songwriting is so much deeper, and more meaningful now, and I owe it all to my son, Rhodes.

Johnny: Speaking of a world gone mad, everything for working musicians pretty much turned upside down this past spring. What went through your mind when the order to close all bars, limit gatherings, etc., came down? 

Lauren: It was scary. Most of our income comes from playing live music, so not being able to play or book future shows has been weird and hard. 

Everything feels uncertain. But I’ve been doing a lot of writing and filling up my cup. I’m trying not to focus too much on what I can’t do, and focus instead on things I can do. Although this season is hard, I know it’s not forever. 

Johnny: As things have sort of opened back up then closed back down and the general yo-yo effect has become the new normal, have you been working toward any specific goals for when things get back to “normal?”

Lauren: I’ve got a new album called “Field Notes” coming out. We are almost done recording, so I’ve been working really hard on that. 

I know a lot of bands are playing live right now, but that’s really not an option for me with a young kiddo. Our babysitting options are very few at the moment. 

I’m not sure how touring will look going forward, but I feel good knowing that right now, I’m doing what I need to do to keep my family safe…even when my heart is aching for the road.

Johnny: A lot of musicians started doing live streams just to maintain that sense or normalcy, and to give fans a way to still enjoy that live music experience as well as show their appreciation through some creative tipping avenues. Did you climb on that train and, if so, did you feel that adequately satiated that desire to perform live in front of an in-person audience or did it still lack that…something? 

Lauren: I’ve done one live stream, and I’ve got another scheduled September 17th with the fine folks at Universal Language. 

But I’ve gotta say, that first one was weird. I was really nervous. It’s hard to connect through a screen. I’m glad we have the option to do live streams, but I sure do miss the connection. 

People have been very generous buying merch though. That has been so helpful. I’m not even sure they realize how much it means to an artist, especially right now. Spending $20 on a shirt helps keep the lights on and food on the table. It’s also what has made recording this new music possible.

Johnny: So, you’ve got this new podcast, Groove LAB, you’ve started. When did that idea start to take shape in your head? Was it a product of boredom from the lack of a live creative outlet or was it something you’d had in mind for a while, or simply the fruition of a few conversations sitting around with bandmates and family? Or perhaps all of the above?

Lauren: Starting the Groove LAB podcast has been something I’ve talked about for a while. I started listening to podcasts when my son was born so I could have some “adult interaction” and feel like I was with friends when I couldn’t be. I’m not the kind of person who can sit around doing nothing, so I just decided to go for it. 

Johnny: Were there any specific challenges to overcome in taking it from idea to reality?

Lauren: Luckily, we had most of the equipment we needed to record a podcast already, and my husband, Richie, was quick to get it set up. I do struggle with shyness, so reaching out and asking questions can be uncomfortable for me. I’m usually on the other side of the interview! Coming up with good questions, keeping the conversation flowing, while also knowing what I’m going to ask next is definitely a different skill set. Luckily, there’s always room for growth and learning, and I so appreciate everyone’s support in this new venture. 

Johnny: So when you made the decision “Yes, we’re going to do this,” did you have a solid idea of what your focus would be on or did that take shape on the fly?

Lauren: I knew I wanted to talk about music, but not really the full ins and outs of it. I also knew that unlike music, where I can practice and rehearse in private, I would need to jump in blindly with this and figure out how to make a good podcast host while in the thick of it. I’m not great at it yet, but the more episodes I record, the more comfortable I feel. I love the idea of giving other people in the music industry an outlet to talk about their art. The world is overflowing with incredibly creative and talented people, and I hope to speak to as many as I can!

Johnny: So how did you land on the name Groove LAB?

Lauren: It was a back and forth for several weeks on what we should call the podcast. I aspire to make music you can groove to so that part was easy. LAB is an acronym for Lauren Alexander Band. I thought it would be fun to have that little element in the name. Groove LAB just felt really good and natural.

Johnny: You’ve got a couple of episodes under your belt now. How has the reality of producing a podcast been different from the idea?

Lauren: It’s a lot of work! There’s lots of editing involved. And I truly didn’t realize the number of times I said ‘um’ and ‘like’! I’m working hard to figure out the transitions of keeping a conversation flowing and asking every question that’s on my list. 

I’m also starting to look into analytics and talk with people about sponsorships which have me very out of my element. But it’s great. There’s been lots of learning involved and I just kind of jumped in with nothing to lose so it’s not super stressful.

Johnny: The first couple of episodes have certainly been entertaining and given us a personal look into the lives of a couple of musicians that, at least for me, were off the radar. What is your vision moving forward for the podcast

Lauren: I’m glad you think so. I listen back and think, “Oh God, is this really how I sound when I talk?!?” 

I’m only used to hearing my singing voice played back. Moving forward, I just hope that people keep enjoying it. I want to continue to grow and get better, and to be able to stay in the loop of what’s going on in the music scene. 

Johnny: Do you have any guests lined up you’re particularly excited about?

Lauren: I’m going to interview Drew Hall from Rosewood Studios soon. And Robert Woodward from Wunderful Design Co.! They’ve both been invaluable in helping me with my creative vision, so it will be fun to hear what they have to say and see if they have any good tips for other artists.

Johnny: Thanks again for taking the time to tackle some questions for us. Last question…who are you listening to, besides yourself, that really excites you these days?

Lauren: Thank you! I’ve been letting myself fall in love again with old favorites who have shaped me over the years….Pink Floyd, Neil Young, The Beatles. I’m also throwing in some TLC and No Doubt for good measure. 

You can follow with Lauren’s adventures in podcasting online:

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