Local singer/songwriter Rex Warren released his first CD Indigo Blue to a packed house at Brian O'Brien's Pub March 16.
As guitarist, lead singer and sole songwriter, Warren is the group's confident front man.
His band includes the talented work of guitarist Scott Blackwell, bassist and backing vocalist Larry Wells, guitarist and backing vocalist Kirk Cumming, mandolin and harmonica player and backing vocalist Jason Varley and drummer Tom Brahl. The group helped give the full sound heard on the CD and at live shows.
Warren's initial love for music began at a very early age.
"I was harmonizing by the time I was three," Warren said. "I could probably sing by the time I could talk. I've known since an early age that this was my calling. I have three older brothers. One gave me my first guitar lesson, one gave me my first guitar."
Though his mother was weary of his passion for rock 'n' roll, Warren hung on to the hobby that brought him so much happiness.
"I've been playing for over 30 years," Warren said. "A lot of the time was spent as a solo artist or a side man in other people's bands, and this is really the first band that was my band. Just over three years ago we started this band. I got approached by Tom Brahl, the drummer, and he asked me if he and Scott and Larry could be my band and I said, `Sure!'"
Warren asked Varley to join the group and Cumming, who Warren said is a great guitar player and vocalist who gave Indigo Blue the excitement it was originally missing, joined the group one year ago.
The inception of the Rex Warren Band turned out to be a positive thing for Warren, and he said it was, literally, an answer to his prayers.
"I feel very blessed," Warren said. "I've never had as much fun in a band ever in my life. There's no ego struggle in the band even though it's called the Rex Warren Band. We tried to think of names for the band but we couldn't come up with anything."
Indigo Blue's 12, laid-back and naturally streaming country/blues/rock songs range from beautiful love songs to upbeat stories full of personal experiences and dreams.
"Get Out of My Way," with its Little River Band groove,
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"That song, when we play live, people are singing along with the chorus," Warren said. "The surprise of the CD is `Western Wind.' It was almost an afterthought. A lot of the arranging on that was done in the studio. We were going to include another song by Kirk but it wasn't ready and I wanted 12 songs on the CD."
Executive production for Indigo Blue was run by Kay Deshler, who has already said she's interested in working with the band on a second CD, and was recorded at Albuquerque's The Santa Fe Center Studios by album engineer and co-producer Doug Geist.
Geist, owner and operator of the studio, said working with Warren and the band was a good experience.
"They are such nice people, really down to earth guys," he said.
Geist said he has high hopes for the new CD, which was recorded over a span of six months, and thinks it will become a popular album.
"I think Rex is a really good storyteller," Geist said. "From blues to country rock to southern rock, to touches of everything. It's kind of fun. I personally think there are four singles on it, the others are support material. I think it really plays well."
Geist, who is a finalist for the New Mexico Industry Awards' best engineer category for Warren's "Small Town Blues," also said Warren kept an open mind to any suggestions he brought up by the band.
"Rex never stifled somebody's creative spirit," Geist said. "He was really cool about that, he really is a team player. He allowed me to co-produce the album, and I did the engineering. He gave me the freedom to do what I thought would help it be the best. He was really open-handed with all that stuff."
In its three years, The Rex Warren Band has performed mainly in New Mexico and Southern Colorado and has received some radio airplay in Arizona. Though Warren has already started planning a summer tour and a second CD, his primary focus is marketing Indigo Blue.
Copies will soon be available on Amazon.com and are currently for sale at Hastings, Borders Books and email@example.com for $15.
The Rex Warren Band will be performing at Brian O'Brien's Pub, 9620 Menaul Blvd. N.E., May 11 and 12 at 9:30 p.m. and May 17 at Club Rhythm and Blues, 3523 Central Ave. N.E., at 9 p.m.