Graham Reynolds dives into “The Marfa Country & Western Big Band Suite”

    The Austin bandleader once again spends August offering a series of free workshop shows at Dive Bar

    The water tower in Marfa, Texas. Photo by Marla Akin.

    West Texas has a hold on Graham Reynolds’ musical imagination.

    In 2013, the Austin-based composer and band leader launched “The Marfa Triptyph,” an ambitious project of three musical portraits of West Texas and its myths and histories.

    “The Marfa Country & Western Big Band Suite” launched the project. Originally commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, where the piece premiered, the suite merges instrumental country music and western sounds with a power jazz rhythm section and a classic string quartet, all alongside horns. A 14-member ensemble played featuring legendary country guitarist Redd Volkaert, fiddle prodigy Ruby Jane, and pedal steel player Ricky Davis.

    Next came the site-specific piece “The Desert,” in 2014, a solo for layered piano which Reynolds performed on a ranch outside Marfa. And then in 2016, came the final piece: “Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance,” a bilingual, cross-border chamber opera that continues to tour nationally.

    Read: “Graham Reynolds’ musical pastiche probes the myths of Pancho Villa”

    Now, under the auspices of his non-profit Golden Hornet organization, Reynolds is returning to the suite, tweaking it some, getting a studio album underway and working toward a live show in November. Golden Hornet is also building a set of programs around how two musical languages — country and new classical — can meld.

    But in the meantime, as he has several summers past, Reynolds will once again set up shop at the Dive Bar for a series of free workshop performances. “Live at Dive” kicks off Aug. 5, and continues every Monday through Aug. 26. Reynolds will be joined by Jeremy Bruch on drums, Utah Hamrick on bass, and a new special guest each week.

    Graham Reynolds: Live at Dive

    Sets start at 8 p.m., Mondays in August, Dive Bar, 1703 Guadalupe Street. All shows are free.
    Special guests:
    Aug. 5 — Alexis Ebbets Buffum on violin
    Aug. 12 — Ulrican Williams on trombone
    Aug. 19 — Ruby Jane Smith on fiddle
    Aug. 26 — Redd Volkaert on guitar and Ricky Davis on pedal steel, workshopping “The Marfa Country & Western Big Band Suite”
    More info here