A few days back I interviewed a really cool guy named Joe Peña, who has an Arizona-based group called Greyhound Soul. He’s about to come back to his home town of Elgin, Texas for the annual Hogeye Festival on Saturday, Oct. 23 and I can’t wait to see him.
I expect Hogeye to be a blast, by the way. If you’re going to be in the Austin area this weekend, you should make a short drive out to Elgin and check it out. Maybe you’ll see me, snapping pics of everything for the local newspaper, the Elgin Courier. There’s all kinds of stuff planned, including a lot of other bands and lots of food, games, a parade, etc. This town is famous for its barbecue, especially sausage. In fact, people call Elgin the Sausage Capital of Texas. You really can’t beat these little small town festivals.
The following interview is pretty close to the one I ran in the Elgin Courier‘s Oct. 20 edition, except I put the cuss words back in. I love the way he talks, all laid back and hip, but I toned it down for the paper – it was a bit too rock ‘n’ roll for a small town. I interviewed him via text message. First time I ever did that. Worked out pretty well I think. What I really find interesting is the family aspect. He’s the third generation in his family to play music professionally – his father did it (still does) and his grandfather. And they’re all named “Joe.” Also, Joe IV’s brother Jeremy Peña is a reggae artist who plays around Austin.
Talk about family tradition. Guitarist and singer/songwriter Joe Peña IV, who will perform at Hogeye Festival with his band Greyhound Soul, grew up surrounded by music. His father and grandfather (both also named Joe) were both professional musicians. His father still plays keyboards with a band. Joe grew up in Elgin. He left Texas around the ninth grade and wound up in Arizona, where he got a band together and developed a following for the rootsy brand of music he calls desert rock.
“I guess we sound like a Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Sonny Boy Williamson wannabe band, cuz that’s what I dig,” he said. Growing up, he cut his teeth on the music being served up in Elgin night clubs, including his grandfather’s club, Dos Amigos. “I was fortunate enough to be around in the Kung Fu Inn days. Ol’ Charlie Brown’s Place on Ave. C [Kung Fu Inn] and across the street was my grandpa’s place. Between the two you had blues and R&B, soul, country & western, jazz and Tejano bands having some of the best moments of their lives. Being 12, 13, 14 years old in and out of bars was my life. Hell, still is. And being witness to that shit is solid gold bro.”
Having professional musicians in the family was tough, but it also made him who he is today. “Growin’ up with music going on day and night, Dad playing his stuff, Gramps puttin’ in his two cents and then me getting it from both sides wasn’t easy. They were always tryin’ to teach the right way to do stuff. Always the right way, all ol’ school, all these chords gettin’ me dizzy. I’d be like screw this, I’m gonna play football. Well, never played football. Now I’m ol’ school and diggin’ it. Somewhere down the line I guess it just stuck and I just can’t seem to get it off my shoe, haha.”
Even after touring around the U.S. and in Europe, Joe is excited to come back to Elgin for Hogeye. “Coming back to play in my home town is fuckin’ awesome,” he said. He’s also excited to see Malford Milligan on the bill, performing with Chloe and the Crossroads band. “That’s just too cool man. We used to pass each other on our way to school back in the day,” he said. “I’m sure he doesn’t know who the hell I am, but he will goddamn it.”
Joe Peña III has played in blues and Tejano bands all his life, learning the trade from his father, who performed Spanish big band music. Although Joe III will be performing in Fort Worth during Hogeye, he encourages Elgin to turn out and watch his son play. “He has five CDs out. He tours Europe. He writes his own material and he will be playing the electric guitar my dad got for me,” he said. “He’s influenced by everything from country music to Paul McCartney. You have to play a little of everything to entertain people nowadays.”
Check out Greyhound Soul’s “Layin’ Down Lost.” Sounds kinda like good alt-country to me…
And in case you decide to check out Hogeye Festival, here’s a schedule:
Lindsy Kay Wing Memorial Children’s Costume Contest and Pet Parade
Registration 8:30 a.m., judging 9 a.m. followed by parade
Hogalicious Dessert Contest
9 a.m. turn in entries–Awards 12:30pm
El Maguey Restaurant
Pearls Before Swine Art ShowJewell Arts Photography – 119 2nd Street @ Avenue C10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Road Hog Car Show
Awards 2:45 p.m. at Nofsinger House City Hall
Gordon Swenson Memorial BBQ Pork Cook-off
Awards 4:30 p.m. at the Chamber
In a Pig’s Eye Dart Contest
Regulator’s Sports Bar and Grill 12 p.m.-4 p.m.
Celebrating 20 years of Main Street
Union Depot Museum 10 a.m.-5p.m.
Acme Brick Toss
Depot Plaza 10 a.m.-5p.m.
Cow Patty Bingo
4 p.m. on Depot Street
Bands and live entertainment
2nd Street Stage
10:30 a.m. Monty Thomas Family Band
11:45 a.m. Soulphonics
1 p.m. Chloe & the Crossroads Band
2 p.m. The Sowpremes
2:45 p.m. Grupo Agresivo
4 p.m. Greyhound Soul
5:15 p.m. Mark Winston Kirk
Depot Stage at Veterans’ Park
10 a.m. Jungle Jill & the Jaybirds (interactive children’s show)
11 a.m. Royal Coronation with the Sowpremes
11:55 a.m. Lost Pines Cowboy Church Band
1 p.m. December’s End
2:45 p.m. Tje Austin and The Experience
4 p.m. Lucretia Alvarez & the Dance Studio
4:30 p.m. Golden Bear