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Home News-Telegram News Playing at the Speed of Light: Cruz Brothers’ ‘Music on Main Street’ show promises night of acoustic excellence

Playing at the Speed of Light: Cruz Brothers’ ‘Music on Main Street’ show promises night of acoustic excellence

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When I talked to acoustic guitarist Edgar Cruz last week, I felt he had a true passion for his chosen instrument. After listening to three CDs Cruz sent for review, I’m relieved to know my instincts are still in working order.

As a former picker, I can appreciate the talent it takes to play a repertoire as large as the one Cruz has built during his 33-year career. The guy covers everything from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” to Freddie Mercury and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The speed with which he performs the finale to the “William Tell Overture,” “The Flight of the Bumblebee” and the 1960s Ventures’ hit “Wipeout” literally took my breath. How he can pick that fast is beyond me — he plays faster than I can hear.

On Friday, June 26, Edgar Cruz and his brother Mark Anthony are making a rare joint appearance on the first night of the annual Independence Day Celebration weekend. The Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra will perform a patriotic concert on Saturday night on the courthouse square.

“I am very excited that we are able to get both Edgar and Mark Anthony,” said Joey Baker, who serves double-duty as airport manager and the director of tourism for the city of Sulphur Springs. “Individually, they are tremendous musicians. Together, their talent combines exponentially and I expect this show will be one of the best musical performances ever seen in Sulphur Springs.”

Cruz said he was happy to be playing with his brother again.

“We only get together three or four times a year. He lives in Austin and I live in Oklahoma City,” said Cruz. “When we do play, it’s so much fun.”

Baker said the Cruz brothers’ show is free and is going to be part of “the first of what we hope to be a regular ‘Music on Main Street’ program. The city has plans to develop the parking lot mid-block on Main Street. That will become the site for future events and programs, ‘Music on Main Street’ being one.”

Edgar and Mark Anthony grew up listening to their father play guitar.

“Our father was a mariachi guitar player from Mexico,” Cruz explained. “I started playing the guitar and the guitaron — the Mexican bass guitar — with him when I was 14. During breaks, I’d pick up his guitar and get him to show me how he played the vocal part, the rhythm and the bass, all on one guitar.”

Cruz counts “all the great rock guitarists” from groups like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Kiss as his influences, but he also looked to more traditional musicians like Chet Atkins and Jose Feliciano for inspiration.

“In 2000 and 2002, I opened for Jose Feliciano,” Cruz said. “It was my most memorable experience. I got to meet my idol.”

Cruz has enjoyed a lot of high moments in his long career.

He has been named Oklahoma’s Top Performing Artist and Acoustic Guitarist. He’s been a headliner at the annual Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville since 2005. He’s been named a Touring Artist with the Oklahoma State Arts Council, and has won numerous  guitar competitions. He tours internationally and regularly performs with symphony orchestras. He has also released 16 CDs.

He earned the first bachelors degree ever awarded in guitar performance from Oklahoma City University and says his training in classical guitar made the rest of his music possible.

“If it hadn’t been for the training of the fingers all those years, I could not have gone into Spanish guitar,” Cruz explained.

Cruz says he hopes audiences leave his shows with an appreciation of what the guitar can do.

“For one guitar to do the singer’s part, the bass player’s part and the rhythm player’s part is rare,” Cruz said. “I want the audience to say, ‘Wow! I didn’t know the guitar could do that.’”

He also likes it when he can leave the stage knowing that he has made new fans who are “appreciative of what I’m doing.”

Mark Anthony Cruz, who is 1 1/2 years younger than his brother, is currently professor of guitar at Texas State University. He won first prize at composition competitions sponsored by the Austin Classical Guitar Society in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He also placed second at the National Finger Picking Championships in Winfield, Kan., in 1993 and 2001.

Edgar says he’s more of an entertainer while his brother is more of a classical guitarist.

“He’s a perfectionist,” Cruz said. “He rarely makes mistakes. I make mistakes all the time, but I cover them up by playing fast.”

The show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Popular local entertainer Stan Narramore will open the show. The stage will be set up in the vacant parking lot off Main Street.

“I’ve never heard anyone say a negative thing about Stan,” Baker said. “It’s our goal with these programs to feature local entertainers along with the headliners.”

Narramore plays 1970s rock, blues and folk songs but also covers a lot of Jimmy Buffett tunes. He goes beyond “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday,” covering some of Buffett’s best “story songs,” like “Cowboy in the Jungle,” “One Particular Harbor” and “I Heard I was in Town.”

“They tell me I have an hour, so I’ve been thinking about what I’m to play,” Narramore said in a phone call. “I’ll probably do an original song called ‘The Heart Attack Blues,’ along with the regular ones in my set list.”

Narramore has been playing guitar since 1964, and has done solo gigs for the past six years, most recently at LouViney in both Winnsboro and Sulphur Springs, the Trails County Center for the Arts in Winnsboro, C.J.’s Round Table (formerly Teresa’s Cafe) and Sulphur Springs Country Club.

“I’m thrilled to be on the bill,” Narramore said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Baker said the city has plans to block off Main Street and have some vendors on hand, and that maybe some downtown businesses will stay open.

“These guys don’t play on the same bill that often,” Baker explained. “This might not be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see both Edgar and Mark Anthony together, but it will be a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity.”

The show is free. The classical guitar music promises to be like nothing we’ve heard in these parts. If you miss this one, you lose — on every front.

 

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