Joe West is an award winning songwriter and performer based in the international art community of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His music has been described as “theatrical folk music” but is influenced by both country and rock.

Joe has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, sharing the stage with the likes of Peter Rowan, Arlo Guthrie, and Violent Femmes. He has created 9 full length CDs of his original music and has created several music videos.

Over the last few years, Joe has created a full length rock opera, has produced music for film and television (most notably the EMMY award winning documentary, SPLIT ESTATE) and has created an all original conceptual radio show called THE INTERGALACTIC HONKY TONK MACHINE. His latest CD, BLOOD RED VELVET, was rated one of the top CDs of 2014 by the London Telegraph and has been featured in the feature film DEATH AND TAXES.

Most recently Joe has returned to his theatrical roots and has created THE THEATER OF DEATH; a theater company which performs Joe’s original dark horror/comedies with original live music.

Joe lives with his daughter and her mother on the outskirts of Santa Fe on the old family ranch. He enjoys fishing, cutting wood for the fire and spending quality time with his family.

Joe West Press Kit for print and web

Joe West and His Pals Press Downloads

SANTA FE REPORTERS’ BEST: 2015, 2012, 2011 ,2010 ,2009

“TOP MALE VOCALIST” – Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll 2000

“A KICK-ASS performance!” – The Village Voice

“That boy is REHAB BOUND!” – Mojo Nixon

“Great!” – Austin Chronicle

The Telegraph (UK) picks Blood Red Velvet as one of the Best Country Music Albums of 2014
Far more outlandish is Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue’s album Blood Red Velvet. West is a cult musical figure in New Mexico and deserves to be better known in the UK market. Perhaps he’s just too offbeat but if you do like originality, then he has it in spades. The new album is like musical theatre – with terrific musicianship – ranging from good old-fashioned country (It’s All Over) through to an astonishing six-minute rambling tale of sex and depraved violence told by Dona Dillenschneider, ending with a chorus of Those Were The Days. West says: “Faith, and its role in the culture of New Mexico, is an essential element in the songs. There is a lot of faith, in either New Age ideas, Catholicism, Buddhism, Native folklore, Native gods . . . but also it is hand-in-hand with a lot of violence. That is what I hope to capture. The faith juxtaposed against violence and heartache.”

The result is songwriting that is engrossing and quirky – Pink Nun and Tara’s Song are excellent – even on a small curiosity like the black humoured Death in Santa Fe, which is only one minute, 40 seconds long. This strange and appealing album ends with a version of Warren Zevon’s Don’t Let Us Get Sick.

See the whole list here.

No Depression on Blood Red Velvet
After a string of knock-out records ten years or so ago, I haven’t heard too much from Santa Fe’s Frogville Records in recent times. And then, out of the blue, here comes what is possibly the best record yet on that label. In that golden period Joe West was maybe the cream of the cream on their roster and in his current role as M C of The Santa Fe Revue he has come up with an album that epitomises everything that has been so good about him over the years. As the band name suggests, this is something of a variety show with Joe passing lead vocal duties to his bandmates on occasion and giving us some stories featuring people from outside the core band, a tall story or two, a couple of covers and enough changes of mood to take you on a substantial tour of the further reaches of Joe West’s imagination. Well, I say imagination but one of Joe West’s trademarks over the years has been his knack of highlighting the wonderful individuality, eccentricity even, of ordinary folks. He just delights in celebrating the people and stuff he finds around him from day to day and, in doing so, seems to communicate a compassionate sense of shared humanity.

Opening up with a song that old fans would immediately recognise as Joe West at the top of his game gets you on his side from the off. It’s All Over is about the end of a love affair and evokes the ineffably sad emptiness in a manner that few can match him for. It happens to be a peach of a tune, simple but beautiful and played with the kind of classy musicianship that he always seems to surround himself with. Everything that is great about Joe West is right here in this song, including one element that is the key to the album as a whole – an ability to feel just how much incongruity enhances a piece of art. On this song it’s the crudely bloke-ish backing vocals that pop up toward the end of the song, way off kilter to the heart-wrenching pain Joe has brought to his lead vocal performance and yet, somehow, just right. Within songs and across the album as a whole Joe pulls off this trick time and again, and the whole thing is richer for it. Joe West aficionados will recognise various themes that crop up: art world characters, music scene adventures and his own personal life are all woven in here, whilst the most astonishing track is probably the six minute rambling tale told by Dona Dillenschneider, a scary story of emotions running wild, involving brawling, porn and a gun (you’ve got to listen); as she lets her tale unfold a scary pulse of high piano chords puts the hair up on the back of your neck. And then, of all things, Dona gives us a high drama, smoky voiced chorus of Those Were The Days. Who else would think of sticking all that in the middle of their new record? Well, the great Terry Allen might but I think this tops anything I’ve heard even from him.

It would be exhausting to take you through every nook and cranny of Blood Red Velvet; suffice to say that every track is a cracker, each in its own way. The shambling-but-tight rock vibe that Joe has always done so well is here in abundance but it’s all the unexpected treats that really fire me up about this: Felecia Ford sharing the vocal on Pink Nun is one and Lori Ottino blowing the cobwebs out with a storming vocal on I Got It All is another. Closing out with Warren Zevon’s Don’t Let Us Get Sick is just the icing on the cake. Wonderful, and straight to the top of the pile for 2013 (apologies to all other contenders, previously championed on this page).

Aberdeen, S.D.The Santa Fe New Mexican (Steve Terrell) on ABERDEEN SOUTH DAKOTA
September 2, 2011Joe West is the only person I know, besides myself, who admits to having consumed Buckhorn beer. He’s not old enough to remember buying it for 79 cents a six-pack at the old Safeway on St. Michael’s Drive, but he’s familiar with the product, which was discontinued long ago — like any brain cells that stood in its path.“Sixteen gallons and a case of Buckhorn / I never felt so alive since the day I was born,” West recites in the song “Keg Party at the Muldoon Farm,” which appears in two different versions on his new album, Aberdeen, S.D. The song is about a high-school senior driving a Trans-Am and ready to party. It sounds like a sweet and authentic memory.

You almost can smell the teenage puke by the barn.

West, whose mother still lives in South Dakota, spent his teenage years in Aberdeen. West told the Aberdeen News a couple of months ago that the record is “an ode to Aberdeen and the time I spent in Aberdeen — a town I really love.” The paper noted that West mentions several Aberdeen landmarks — Lager’s bar, Kessler’s supermarket — in the album.

“Goin’ Down to Kessler’s,” the opening track, is a funny little tune about a guy going to pick up some milk and cigarettes (and perhaps some Buckhorn beer?) in preparation for taking the day off work to begin the healing process for a broken heart. The lilting beat and happy fiddle belie any inner pain.

A listener is pretty sure that the narrator is going to pull through. But then, about halfway through, the song changes. The beat slows and minor-key clouds roll in. There’s a heavy cello and desperate blues licks from a guitar. The last minute or so features a repeated tape loop of some guy talking about local Lutheran churches. I’m not sure what it means, but it doesn’t sound healthy.

“Kessler’s” and other songs and sequences on Aberdeen, S.D. remind me a lot of West’s KSFR radio show, Intergalactic Honky-Tonk Machine, an almost surreal mix of music, interviews, and humorous and frequently poignant storytelling built upon the rock of West’s appreciation and respect for the people he encounters.

The music on the album has a cool, lo-fi, junkyard sound — think Tom Waits’ Frank’s Wild Years. According to the liner notes, it was “recorded on an old analog 4-track, using borrowed instruments and thrift-store tape decks, microphones, and toys.” (I’m pretty sure that’s a kid’s chord organ on the “original mix” of “Keg Party.” At least it sounds that way.) It was recorded in Aberdeen early this year with some later recordings in Santa Fe.

Some of the songs seem like high-school flashbacks. Others, like “Old Friends” are about a prodigal Joe returning to his old hometown. One of my favorites, “Johnny’s Not Here,” is a bluesy number with a good sleazy sax. It’s about some barroom regulars concerned that the most regular of the regulars is missing. “He’s part of the landscape, part of the atmosphere / But it’s 4:30, and Johnny’s not here.” We never find out what happened to the guy, but there’s definitely a disturbance in the Force.

Then there’s “Keeper of the Light,” a long (six-minute-plus) shaggy-dog tale told over a stand-up-bass-driven blues backdrop, about a guy who collects all sorts of junk:

“I don’t necessarily dumpster dive, but I do like to look into dumpsters,” West explains at the outset of song. He sounds like a kid on Christmas morning as the treasures are unveiled: a 1983-era keyboard/guitar; a CB radio box with the likeness of singer C.W. McCall (remember “Convoy”?); and best of all, display crates of old cassettes — Kenny Rogers, Toto, The Cars’ Candy-O, a Bing Crosby Christmas collection. West realizes he’s made a faux pas by offering to buy the tapes. This stuff isn’t for sale. This guy is a keeper of the light.

The Telegraph (UK) names Blood Red Velvet one of the Best Country Music Albums of 2014
Far more outlandish is Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue’s album Blood Red Velvet. West is a cult musical figure in New Mexico and deserves to be better known in the UK market. Perhaps he’s just too offbeat but if you do like originality, then he has it in spades. The new album is like musical theatre – with terrific musicianship – ranging from good old-fashioned country (It’s All Over) through to an astonishing six-minute rambling tale of sex and depraved violence told by Dona Dillenschneider, ending with a chorus of Those Were The Days. West says: “Faith, and its role in the culture of New Mexico, is an essential element in the songs. There is a lot of faith, in either New Age ideas, Catholicism, Buddhism, Native folklore, Native gods . . . but also it is hand-in-hand with a lot of violence. That is what I hope to capture. The faith juxtaposed against violence and heartache.”

The result is songwriting that is engrossing and quirky – Pink Nun and Tara’s Song are excellent – even on a small curiosity like the black humoured Death in Santa Fe, which is only one minute, 40 seconds long. This strange and appealing album ends with a version of Warren Zevon’s Don’t Let Us Get Sick.

See the whole list here.

October 31, 2011Santa Fe musician Joe West has previously recorded songs about, among many other things, UFOs, small-town America and trailer-park liberals. His new album is a tribute to Aberdeen, South Dakota, a small town where he went to high school. The album seems to sum up what small town Midwestern America is like in the modern world.This is not a will-o-wispy folk album – this is an entertainingly quirky and bizarre piece of work. There’s a touch of Tom Waits about the spoken song Johnny’s Not Here and Wilson Jermanski but much of the work is original and enchanting. Especially beautiful is the simple and melodic guitar instrumental There Goes Brooks, which includes the sound effects of trains, birds and the auctioneer sales tapes decks used by local thrift store Roncalli Nearly New. It’s simply lovely.

Keg Party at the Muldoon Farm (original mix) will have you tapping your feet and musing on strange folk while Old Friends is an innovative song of country heartbreak.

The album, produced by Paris Briscoe, sounds authentically old timey – it was recorded on an old analog 4-track – and there are name checks and CD leaflet pictures to food and drink curiosities such as Stag Bottle Beer and Red Smith’s Delicious Pickled Eggs. Among the contributing musicians are Michael Kott and Josh Martin.

Little Louis (with Joe Wigdahl) is another fine song with original lyrics (‘Little Louis she’s a cold Minnesota breeze’). Home sounds like something that could have been on the Talking Heads album True Stories.

Santa Fe RevueSANTA FE REPORTER: Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue
October 14, 2011Over the years, local troubadour Joe West has gained a sort of folk hero status around town. With his signature blend of quirky Americana, country and rock ’n’ roll, West is certainly one of the most popular performers we have. For his upcoming event, Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue, however, West wanted to attempt something a little different. “I’ve been inspired by my more theatrical side to attempt more of a full-on show than just a bar-band experience,” West says. “It’ll be a fun event with lots of dancing, and it’s perfect for families.” Elements of the ole-timey Will Rogers variety shows have found their way into the performance, and West recruited local titans such as Felecia Ford, Tom Adler and Arne Bey for his band. “You can expect to hear plenty of the classics, but lots of new material and songs for children, too,” West says. For longtime West fans, or even just families looking for an unboring, kid-friendly event, this is your one-stop destination for all things Joe West and beyond. (Alex De Vore)
July 22, 2009This is the story of Joe West: the guitar slingin’ local hero who takes your preconceived notions of country, folk, gospel and rock, and turns them upside down. No longer will we be forced to lump in country and folk with toothless weirdos or faux cowboys; West is for real, and he is more handsome than you.West is a beloved fixture and institution in our scene, whether it’s The Joe West Show, The Santa Fe All-Stars or the ongoing saga of Xoe Fitzgerald, the Time Traveling Transvestite. Whatever the band and whatever the style, one thing remains constant: West owns you! Big plans are in the works for more chapters in the tale of Xoe Fitzgerald, some Santa Fe All-Stars performances, as well as a variety-style radio show – not even to mention his myriad solo appearances, gospel brunches and whatever other amazing-ass stuff he’s got hidden up his sleeve.

West has lived and performed all over the country, most notably in New York and Austin, yet he holds Santa Fe very near and dear to his heart. “There is such an incredible pocket of talent in this town,” he says. “It’s hard to stay away.” True, my friend. And forgive me asking you this favor: Don’t go away . . . or I will cry.

July 22, 2009Here’s a recipe for great music: Take some of the most talented and varied artists from around town and have each of them bring their own personal influences together for a slice of country, bluegrass and rock perfection.I speak, of course, about The Santa Fe All-Stars. How could you possibly go wrong with the likes of Joe West, Sharon Gilchrist, Susan Hyde Holmes and Ben Wright? Obviously you can’t, Santa Fe, because here we are. West is a born country troubadour, with a slight air of rock about him; Gilchrist is a mandolin champion; Ben Wright is just a straight musical genius; and Susan Hyde Holmes is a bassist like no other. More of a fall and winter outfit due to summer touring schedules with their full-time projects, the All-Stars has released a self-titled EP on Frogville Records. “I’m glad it’s only an EP. That way people will want more from us,” Hyde Holmes says.

Since the band is, in reality, a side project for all members, shows are rare and not to be missed. Don’t forget Santa Fe has musicians just as good as anywhere else. Better even.

Ruckus: She’s a Total Blam-Blam By Gabe Gomez
October 10, 2007The interviews I’ve botched, the drama that surrounds local radio and the busload of bad music I’ve endured over the last year got me thinking that it’s about time to do something I’ve been hankering to do: See Xoe Fitzgerald.
Ben Wright and Joe West put on their alter-egos and fly through a killer set. Time Traveling Transvestite. Because after spending the best Christmas ever at a gay nightclub watching a killer drag show, I learned that I am down with dudes in nylons lip-synching Mariah Carey songs and other such camp. A power outage on Sept. 29 crippled The Mine Shaft Tavern for the majority of the day and shut down its kitchen, so the protein for the evening came from the fermented food group; getting plowed like a turnip patch was a happy consequence.”We’re the Joe West Situation,” West said of the “opening act.” “We’re warming it up for Xoe.” Both of West’s bands are made up of Ben (Bacon) Wright on lead guitar, Paul (Feathericci) Groetzinger on drums, Noah (Neegs) Baumeister on bass and West (Xoe) on rhythm guitar and lead vocal. The Situation plays original tunes and covers such as Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Perhaps West and the boys were attempting to be ironic and funny by playing a schmaltzy country song about a cowboy in the city, away from his family and his familiar surroundings, but I didn’t buy it, especially when the band kicked into Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee.” These two songs express a sense of alienation and a search for identity in both foreign and familiar places.

The Situation set the tone for the evening and, perhaps, gave a little insight into West as an artist and his performance as Xoe. I know. It sounds like some touchy-feely humanities seminar, but considering Xoe Fitzgerald is essentially a dystopian performance about the issues of exploration and other worldviews, it ain’t no co-inky-dink. Compound this revelation with Xoe’s wall-to-wall rock opera style, largely influenced by David Bowie’s 1976 film, The Man Who Fell to Earth, (filmed partially in Madrid) and you’re ready to rock.

The Situation breezed through the set and allowed enough time for The Mine Shaft to fill with a mix of locals and West supporters. We were all waiting for Xoe, like handsome prairie dogs waiting for the wafts of twilight; Xoe has only performed a handful of times so it was, indeed, a special occasion. Three pints of beer into my evening and I saw West on stage wearing a gold lamé pantsuit and a blonde wig. He talked with his bass player, Neegs, who wore tight leather pants; they both twisted knobs and set the smoke machine just right. Feathericci wore what can best be described as a French schoolgirl outfit. He walked around the bar in total comfort, an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, like a character in some wayward schoolgirl B-movie.

Then there was Bacon, who sported a stripped ankle length skirt with a vest. Like survivors of nuclear fallout, the band looked like a cross between a Mad Max film (before that terrible one with Tina Turner) and the New York Dolls. The smoke filled the stage as I began my fourth beer. For the next 1 or two hours (I can’t quite remember) the band wove a story of time-travel-laden tunes paired with the David Bowie classics, “The Man Who Sold the World” and “Heroes.” By the time I started on the Booker’s whiskey, someone in a robot costume was on the dance floor. This, I felt, was totally reasonable. West then changed into a Jean Paul-Gaultier-meets-GI-Jane number, complete with helmet and Barbie-rocket tits. The remnants of Americana have largely ceased by this point and have been replaced by a ’60s or ’70s T Rex and Iggy Pop raw simplicity with a Ziggy Stardust glam foundation. For the crescendo, West threw on a frilly red number, complete with butterfly wings. I was, by then, thoroughly fucked up, shaking my ass on the dance floor, watching a grown man wearing a camisole and butterfly wings sing about alternate universes, unity and life-after-physical death. The guy dancing next to me wore a hot-pink-and-black cat suit with extremely high heels, makeup and a wig to match; he was having fun too.

The rock spectacle is dying art, save for the pageantry of the aforementioned drag show. Costume changes, smoke machines and even pyrotechnics have sneaked out the back door. I blame this largely on television and the exultation of the mundane in favor of live theatrics. So what can you really say about a rock opera performed at a bar on a Saturday night in front of a modest crowd? You don’t have to say anything. Being swept up in the performance is all you really need.

Ruckus: A Clean Well-Lighted Place By Gabe Gomez
August 22, 2007Music, not unlike sex, dope and humiliation has healing powers. Its creation and appreciation is as instinctual as laughter. We use that same innate joie de vivre to create the places where we listen to music environments where our love of rhythms, beats and melodies can be unleashed. Whether it’s an outdoor amphitheater like Paolo Soleri or the inky hues of Evangelo’s, where we listen to music says as much about us as the music itself.The Santa Fe All-Stars have a gig at Tiny’s Restaurant and Lounge every Wednesday during August. The band’s recent show at the Santa Fe Bandstand (where they killed it) solidifies my desire to see them twice in one week and write a profile about the band playing at one of Santa Fe’s most beloved venues. But my purpose is trumped by something I never expected to happen.

The $3.75 bottle of Budweiser I’m nursing and admittedly bought because in my own deluded sense of reality I thought it would help me “blend in” with the crowd, leads to the bigger realization that I’ve never been inside Tiny’s, even though I have a vague recollection of its décor and clientele. I expect to walk into a stygian room with gnarly red glass candleholders on café tables, vinyl lounge chairs and creepy older people on the prowl for sketchy car sex. I get none of that; it’s bright, convivial and there’s not a pinky ring in sight. Elvis liquor decanters sit beside Laurel and Hardy decanters, which are beside the hundreds of other decanters that line the wall. And there is, of course, the music from the All-Stars. The band is quite literally flawless in its delivery, though the name still drives me bat shit every time I hear it because it reminds me of a Little League softball team. The band meanders from Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt covers to slow waltzes and foot stompers. The room fills with local musicians as the night goes on.
“This can be any place,” local drummer Mark Clark says about the bar/restaurant, noting the deliberate absence of all things Santa Fe. He’s right. Tiny’s doesn’t resemble anything else I’ve seen here. The place even has a disco ball and bordello-style watercolor prints on the walls above the booths. “It could be New Orleans,” I think to myself, and realize that this is the thing that has been eating at me for three weeks and the reason I have what professional psychologists call a mild freak out or a “monkey falling out if its tree” episode.

Aug. 29 marks the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in Waveland, Miss., which subsequently sparked the floods that destroyed my home in New Orleans; it’s the reason I moved to Santa Fe. I had gone for a run on the morning of Aug. 27, 2005. When I returned to my house, my wife had packed my bags.

“Walk through the house and take anything else; we’re leaving,” she said. I laughed and entertained staying home through the storm. We had gone through this before. Every year for five years we had evacuated because of a hurricane threat. We had even attended a hurricane party at one of our favorite bars and got hammered while the wind and rain ravaged the trees outside. So I left everything. By the time we finally returned (two months later) more than 500 hundred books, three acoustic guitars and my entire music collection had been soaking in toxic water for more than three weeks.

The reminders of the flood are beginning to appear everywhere in opinion pieces, editorials and the recycled television footage from 2005 that shows the mayhem at the convention center in New Orleans and at the Superdome. So now I’m at Tiny’s listening to four of the finest musicians in Santa Fe (Joe West, Susan Holmes, Sharon Gilchrist and Ben Wright), hoping that listening to some music and putting some ink to paper about a stellar band in our midst will realign my head.

After a brief set break, local musician Pete Williams joins West and Wright onstage to play the upright bass for “House of the Rising Sun.” Their rendition is so sparingly beautiful, it causes something I’ve never experienced in Santa Fe: complete silence from the audience. The scene and the sound dig deeply into the confines where I’ve stored the memories of those fucked-up days after the hurricane and flood: The violent sounds of gas generators, the rotting-food smell that permeated the city and the mountains of warped and muddied lives draped in front of houses in ruined heaps. I have to leave the room before breaking down and making a scene.

It’s been a year since I moved back to Santa Fe and the outsider feeling is almost gone. My first evening at Tiny’s won’t be my last. The term “locals’ hangout” is mentioned often in casual conversations; I wonder how many of us at the bar are truly local and why it matters to qualify ourselves or any place in Santa Fe in this way.

This is home and the sound it creates spills through the bars and the streets like a new flood, replacing the damage from the one before.

Xoe FitzgeraldGender-Bending Genius
Xoe Fitzgerald/Joe West Situation/Lone Monk
Mineshaft Tavern Madrid, NM, January 13, 2007
First let me start off by saying as a disclaimer that I opened the show solo as Lone Monk playing a set of originals and covers. I would like to thank Joe for giving me a chance to play in such a cool place.The Mineshaft has to be the best place in NM for a live show. It has that wild west anything can happen vibe that is very exciting and it is the perfect atmosphere to take in the honky-tonk bard and his exceptional band. Incidentally the bar is under new ownership and this was one of their first nights and it was door to door with thirsty customers ready to soak up the great music. I would like to wish the ladies best of luck and hope that this auspicious night would be the first of many successful evenings to come. The Joe West Situation started the evening off with a set of country classics which included ‘Okie From Muskogee’ and Rhinestone Cowboy,’ as well as fan favorites like ‘The Human Cannonball’ and ‘$2000 Navajo Rug,’ and also a chicken fried version of ‘Shake Your Booty’ thrown in for good measure. The band is real tight and guitarist Ben Wright plays acoustic with wah-wah pedal, occasional e-bow lines, and lots of good taste and economy, not crowding a single measure with over-playing. The rhythm section of Noah Baumeister and DJ Paul Federici on the drums were locked in tight and hot all night. After about a 45 minute set they took a break and got ready for the fiesty, always radiant Xoe Fitzgerald to take the stage. The crowd could only imagine what they were about to become part of. There were a couple of dudes in dresses milling around in anticipation. I over heard some grumbling about the fact that there were going to be trannies in the bar. I must admit I saw none, well not done up nice.

When she took the stage with her band they were now transformed into no shirt, leather pants wearing rock and roll animals. DJ Paul looked like a scary Kabuki zombie and played like he was a man possessed- they all did. Ben Wright was wailing like Mick Ronson or Steve Hunter the whole show- amazing!!! Xoe was wearing a gold lame outfit with nice tan platform boots and a white wig that Andy Warhol would have died for. She was radiant and eloquent telling her story with total “I don’t give a fuck what you think” attitude and it practically made me weep and streak my mascara. She told of her birth in Madrid, being the love child of an alien Ziggy Stardust who knocked up her mom while in town filming a movie.

Borrowing two songs from her “father’s” repertoire “The Man Who Sold The World” and “Heroes”, I must honestly say that her own compositions were as strong and comforting and blended well with the Bowie tunes that were their impetus. The crowd was packed, writhing, dancing, copulating, breathing in every word of the songs heard for the first time and all knowing this was a magical rock and roll spectacle and that they would speak of this occasion for many years to come. Xoe made a couple of wardrobe changes throughout the evening. Once coming out in a camouflage dress w/ plastic army helmet. She ended the evening with white fishnet stockings and a red negligee, adorning red butterfly wings. Mike the Can Man was wearing the amazing robot costume and dancing with the ladies as his x-ray eyes glared out at the crowd which was now oozing as one symbiotic organism. This story was very sad and symbolizes to me the effectiveness of guitars and drums in overcoming sexual identity confusion. Some of Xoe’s outfits were auctioned off at the end of the show to help raise money for her home for homeless time-traveling transvestites called ‘Fallen Angels of the Galaxy’ or F.A.G. The show was recorded and all I can do is pray for it’s DVD release so I can enjoy this experience again and again. Rock-on Xoe!!!

Steve Terrell
New Mexico Magazine, March 2006Joe West recently experienced a “One of Our 50 Missing” moment. During an interview on Scottish BBC during his Fall 2005 tour of the British Isles, a radio host was praising West’s song “Trotsky’s Blues,” a surreal little rocker in which the singer sees the Russian revolutionary at Santa Fe’s Bert’s Burger Bowl.The interviewer stated that Leon Trotsky had been killed in New Mexico and asked whether there was a “Trotsky visitor center” in Santa Fe. (Trotsky was assassinated near Mexico City.) At first West thought he was joking. “By the time I realized what he was saying, I had to play a song,” West says. Maybe it’s just a testament to West’s songwriting. Even his funniest numbers ring true. A listener is tempted to believe even his wilder fantasies.

Many of West’s songs are down-to-earth tales of real-live working folks-“Mike the Can Man,” about a neighbor of West’s who earns a living recycling trash: “Anita Pita” a single mom who cleans art galleries; “Rehab Girl,” who works at a substance-abuse treatment center and “likes her men shady.” Many of his songs are strong on social commentary, such as “$2,000 Navajo Rug” which lampoons Santa Fe excess. Then there’s a whole body of Joe West “Jamie” songs, dealing with West’s mythical composite lost-love muse, who has survived domestic violence, alcoholism and untold stupid love affairs. “But the truth of the matter is I Ain’t never loved a girl like her before,” West sings of Jamie on “Reprimand.” And in his live show, you” be treated to West versions of cheesy ’70s pop-country hits. At his CD release party for HUMAN CANNONBALL at Santa Fe’s Tiny’s Lounge last year, he had the crowd singing along with every word of Glen Cambell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

West, 38, the son of Santa Fe artist Jerry West, has deep roots in Santa Fe. After his parents’ divorce, he split most of his school years between Santa Fe and South Dakota, where his mother had moved. “I went to a different school almost every year,” West says. He graduated from High school in South Dakota. Then he graduated from the University of South Dakota, where he majored in theater. After college in 1991, he went to New York City to pursue a career in theater. There he hooked up with a gaggle of bluegrass musicians. “I started playing in subways,” he says. “I evolved from being a theater person to being a musician full time.” West had dabbled in music much earlier. “When I was in junior high I got very much into punk rock and tried to start a punk rock band, which sounded very much like an alternative folk country band,” he says. “As hard as I tried I never quite became a punk rocker.” West moved to Austin, Texas, in the late ’90s where he formed a band called Joe West and The Sinners. But before his move to Austin, West was hanging out in Santa Fe. He befriended members of a band called TheMuseMeant and recorded his first proper CD, Trip to Roswell, New Mexico.

When West moved back to Santa Fe in 2001, ThaMuseMeant introduced him to a whole community of musicians including bands like Hundred Year Flood and Goshen, who formed the nucleus of what became Frogville Records. West has recorded two albums for the label, South Dakota Hairdo and Human Cannonball. But he’s got outside projects as well. He’s a member of a Santa Fe gospel group called Bethleham and Eggs. And for more experimental music he’s got his contraption called The Intergalactic Honky Tonk Machine, which West says is a “time traveling music device,” which includes a drum machine, electronic tape loops and a smoke machine. And he’s talking about doing a concept album about an “androgynous time-traveler space character’ who claims to be the love child of a glam-rock star, conceived in New Mexico during the filming of The Man Who Fell to Earth. Now that’s alternative country!

Feb/March, 2005Joe West is such a class act that he even wears a white Colonel Sanders-type suit, although it seems a little incongruous considering the proletarian, white trash images some of his songs convey. If Lou Reed’s roots were in New Mexico and Texas, he’d probably sound like Joe West.There’s a sparse, economical quality to West’s songwriting style. The lyrics often deal with alcohol and drug-laden characters. As with West’s past albums, the production allows the singer’s melodies and intriguing lyrics to stand out; the rhythm section is funky and the electric guitar understated but sharp. “Cold Canadian Love” is a haunting song that features very effective use of Dobro. “Reprimand” and “Jamie III” seem to be sequel songs to “Jamie Was A Boozer”, the title song of a previous West album. Jamie also shows up in “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, a song that alludes to the heyday of the Sex Pistols, and in “Video Taping Our Love.” With South Dakota HairDo, Joe West proves once again that he deserves to be a cult figure, if he isn’t already one.

March/April, 2005It would require a couple of promotions for Joe West, now back home in New Mexico after an acting stint in New York and some musical success in Austin with the band The Sinners, to reach the position of cult artist. (It’s telling that the musicians West most immediately brings to mind-Terry Allen, Ronny Elliott, Thomas Anderson, Michael Hall- are all cult figures in the music world or. like West. aspiring cult figures.)But that’s not from lack of trying or from lack of worthiness. It’s more like a healthy lack of convention. Granted, the sound created by West and his backers-keyboards-and-guitar led folk-rock with a honky-tonk heart and a satirist’s soul- isn’t all that off center. Nor, for that matter, is his narrative writing style, although the engrossing “Reprimand” is a whiplash threat as it moves from relationship story to original passion play and back again. But combine the two into what might be a song cycle and add a whiff of mystery- just who is this Jamie character who keeps popoing up?- and it might be a tough sell.

I’m buying ,though, especially if West continues to dream up songs as catchy (“More Than You’ll Ever Know” and the Tex-Mexy “Sometimes Lovers”), witty (“Frank’s Jealous”), and subtly sinister (“Video Taping Our Love” and “21st Century Garbage Man”, (the latter a semi-rehabilitated “Psycho Killer” paroled to Santa Fe) as the ambitious gang gathered here.

Spring 2005 volume 6, number 2One of the most original recordings to come along in some time arrives courtesy of Joe West on his Frogville Records release, SOUTH DAKOTA HAIRDO. Seemingly taking his cues from equal parts Warren Zevon and John Prine, West displays a knack for the offbeat, whimsical storytelling spread over startling, rich musical styles that cover the breadth and depth of European and American influences and history. Good ole honky tonk fuels the straight foward “Reprimand”, and the twang driven Dylan-like slide guitar stomping title track sets the tone for West’s visionary slice of Americana. “Frank’s Jealous” is a standout piece that echoes through the ages as it coyly takes playful stabs at the modern world. Joe West’s SOUTH DAKOTA HAIRDO is a joyously weird and transfixing wonder from a brave new voice in American music.-B.W.
The SinnersJoe West and The Sinners, A Band that Defies Categorization
Encore, Neenah, WI, Thursday, May 11, 2000When hearing a band for the first time, one of the natural things to do is compare it with other similar groups or to try to fit it into a certain genre. So along comes Joe West and the Sinners, a band for which an entirely new musical category might have to be created. A press release descibes the band as “country-punk singer-songwriter based rock.” If that leaves you scratching your head, all you have to do is put the group’s latest album,”Jamie Was a Boozer” on your CD player and you’ll discover why the band is given such a wide-ranging desciption. While leaning more toward the country/roots direction, Joe West and the Sinners does dabble in many genres. and you’ll find that the lyrics often cross the line into the offbeat. This is evidenced simply by glancing at the back of the CD case and seeing titles like “Trip to Roswell, N.M.” and “Trailer Park Liberal”. The group likes to keep fans guessing during live shows, performing covers of anything from the Sex Pistols to Hank Williams. As one review of West goes,”that boy is bound for rehab.” Joe West and the Sinners perform tonight at Automatic Slims. 302 N. Commercial St. in Neenah. West, who once wrote music for and performed in off-broadway theatre productions, started his band in 1998 after moving to Austin, TX. The group quickly became well known in the city and has opened for such acts as Jon Dee Graham and Mojo Nixon.
Austin Chronicle Review of “Jamie was a Boozer”
Christopher Gray, Austin ChronicleSeeking common ground between Jerry Springer and Woody Guthrie may turn some folks’ hair whiter than prime-time TV, but if music doesn’t adapt to its times, it winds up on life-support alongside Sousa marches, Shaker hymns and (some would argue) jazz. Thus, Joe West and the Sinners are all about taking folk music into the are of Elian. “Roll over Fat Boy, I’m trying to find NPR,” orders the hero of TRAILER PARK LIBERAL, who goes clubbing with his gay friend and whose girlfriend buys the beer when he’s broke. West is precisely the type of foward thinking local folkie who’d follow the sneering, slightly psychotic dream tractor (the tractor of your dreams? Paging Dr. Freud…) with the breezy REHAB GIRL, about a staffer at “that place where you stay up on MLK” who “likes her men shady”. But it’s hardly all inebriated UFO chasers and girls sweeping West under $2000 Navajo rugs. ARE YOU STILL MY GIRL is the best first dance wedding song to come out of Austin since Mike Nicolai’s CATCH YOU ALIVE, with PITTSBURGH,PA and JUDA ISCARIOT not far behind. All told, west and the Sinners more that atone for any lingering debt to Dylan, Neil Young or even Jimmy Buffett. This witty, wistful tip of the gimme cap to the margins of millenial America revels in the same flip-flopped pluck as that bottle blond behind you in the express lane, balancing her checkbook as she leafs through the Star.
Santa Fe New Mexican Review of “Jamie was a Boozer”
Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New MexicanOK, officially Joe lives and works in Austin but his Santa Fe ties are legit. His dad, artist Jerry West, lives here. And Joe frequently pays tribute to Santa Fe in song, such as $2000 Navajo Rug, a sarcastic toast (with an authentic Santa Fe $5 cerveza) to the ricos who keep our cost of living so high. Joe has a knack for writing funny tunes such as Trailer Park Liberal but the main streangth of the album is a core of songs, some funny, some not, related to alchohol and the abuse thereof. The title song is an unflinching tribute to a friend who drowned in liquor. The Ballad of Terri McGovern, about a woman who got drunk and froze to death, is even more startling. Rehab Girl, about a guy with a crush on a lady who works at a rehab center, is lighter but has an edge.
Santa Fe New Mexican Review of “Trip to Roswell, NM”
Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New MexicanWest isn’t really a local, but he recorded this wonderful album here in Santa fe (with David Tiller and Jeff Susman of ThaMuseMeant among others). The title cut is a talking blues about the Roswell phenomenon-not the UFOs as much as the marketing folk art. But the most amazing thing about the song is that he talks about coming to Santa Fe and eating at Furr’s Cafeteria. Maybe he is a local after all.