Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie
TALON 

SOUNDS OF AZTEC

Crash Music gets new sound board

 

Jacque Ritchie

George Rowe tests his new sound board at Crash Music

Built in 1927, the historic Aztec Theater has seen the town through good times and recession. Aztec locals of a certain age will recall Saturday matinees, their first date or stealing a first kiss in the darkness of the theater. Later the theater became the studio of celebrated local artist Tayadoro. Her work still graces the lobby lending an eclectic avant-garde flavor to the joint. These days the theater is home to Crash Music and at 8,000 square feet, is the only medium size entertainment venue in our area. Crash music is owned and operated by George Rowe and Sue Rys. "I'm the idea guy, she (Sue) gets it done." Rowe admits, "She really keeps me grounded, someone has to be consistent around here."

For the past five years the couple have been striving to, "build community through the arts," said Rowe.

Classically trained, Rowe received a degree in Composition and Music Theory from Eastern Illinois University in 1976. Rowe spent many years teaching middle and high school level students throughout the state. He has used his formal training as a foundation for his "real education" which came, not in small part, from friend and mentor Rick Morris. Rowe argues that classical music, while important, was usurped from traditional folk music of the time and was ultimately used to segregate people into classes thereby diluting its worth. Rowe said, "The job of an artist is to rediscover human value." Along that line Rowe contends, "Art in of itself is indefinable but art should surprise you. Art is the only subject that focuses on what you don't know." Rowe said, "It's what one discovers during the process of creating music, that defines the art."

Rowe has deviated from his classical roots without regret and barely a glance in the rear view. He considers himself an, "innovative music educator." Teaching in a public and private school setting has lost its allure for Rowe. He has always been drawn to the field of education, "I just really love to teach. I come from a family of educators, I guess it's in my blood." Currently Rowe has 15 private students studying guitar, bass, hand drum (East African), banjo, and mandolin. Select classes also include root music singing, with a "strong folk-bias" featuring Gospel, Afro-Cuban and Irish style music. For voice classes Rowe enlists the talent of Durango's Susan Merrill to lead the class.

Jacque Ritchie

George Rowe stands in front of the Aztec Theater, Crash Music location

Teaching classes has kept the doors of Crash Music open and along with "much appreciated local sponsorship" has allowed Rowe to continue to offer the community nationally renown artists such as Coco Montoya, Indigenous and Mo Bros. Recently Rowe upgraded the sound system from the trusty Mackie analogue to a shiny new Studiolive 32.4.2 PreSomus Active soundboard. An admitted analogue-man Rowe conceded, "We had to go digital to compete." The new system can be operated remotely using an iPad from anywhere in the venue, "This gives you more flexibility in assigning sound." Rowe explains that the new system allows, "Every musician in the band to have their own mix." Like a kid with a new toy Rowe fiddles with knobs and switches admitting he is still learning the new system. "I want to send a big thank-you to Bill Woodward for all his invaluable help in developing the sound program here at the venue."

Like for many of the small business owners in Aztec, the sluggish economy is a source of stress, but Rowe is resolute. "I got a great customer base, I can survive this." According to Rowe city cooperation is key to downtown growth. "We need an economic board that thinks outside the box about how to make Aztec a destination location."

 

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