The place looked abandoned. You could hear the guitar, Eugene Reyes, battling it out with Sara Hope on drums. Both were being beaten out by the soft voice of Abel Salas wafting through the air. At Glasbox, an art space at Poplar St. and Texas Ave. local band Sidewalk Citizens were practicing.
Hope, the newest member of Sidewalk Citizens and famous member of the LA band LeoLeo shared her feelings on El Paso. “I think that it’s really unsuspecting. Like, you fly in, and you’re driving around and you kind of see a lot of strip malls, and you can’t really tell what the flavor is, and then you just get underneath that one layer and you have a whole lot of stuff going on.”
The music was getting louder and louder. Sidewalk Citizens was in one bright, hot-as-hell, little room. The music vibrated under the skin, and felt like thunder on the floor. The room smelled to the bone of incense.
“Here in the local music scene is very different than any other place. It’s a big city with a small town feel,” said Abel Salas about the music scene in El Paso. Straight out of Montwood High School the band was created by Salas, Tony Nunez on vocals, and Stephen Hicks on drums. Their music was interrupted when Tony went away to study Social Work at UT Austin, and Stephen joined the Navy.
They were left on a hiatus that Salas had to overcome. Now, with their newest members – “God-sent” from a Craiglist add, Sarah Hope, and Eugene Reyes, they have just played their first concert at Parkland High School May, 2016. “My brother Eugene is always telling me that you can’t really sit by and watch these things kind of fly by,” Salas said. “You have to step onto things.”
Hope is a new comer to El Paso living here for around a year. She sees the city as being multilayered as she commented, “I love that there’s so many things happening, and it doesn’t seem to be unified in a way that makes sense on the surface, yet. There’s this juxtaposition where you get into town and it doesn’t seem like anything is going on, and then there’s like a ton going on.” You may think there’s nothing to do in town but you just have to look for it.
It works the same way with music. It may seem like there is nothing underneath this blanket of commercialized tunes, but if you’re interested enough you can lift it and find better music. In a world where it all seems to be done for money and fame, Salas does not lose sleep over it, “I don’t believe that you should be making music to get somewhere. It should be something that we do for ourselves. It’s not about ‘let’s get famous,’ and let’s just do all these things that are completely pointless. Instead, let’s just change the world.”
El Paso is very much like a star; although it might be this beautiful celestial being in the sky, it stays quiet, letting its glimmer humbly speak for it. El Paso is the star in the desert. “As far as why I did stay, . . . we forget that we are people, who need people, who do things for people, who live with people, you know? So I think that’s my inspiration, that I’ve come to accept where I am and I love it. I love this place. This is my home.” Abel Salas
– By Aimée Santillán & Antonio Villaseñor-Baca