Christi J. Schwanbeck
I called Joe King Carrasco for an interview, it was
two minutes into the call before he realized who was
actually calling. He mistook me for someone else.
After some confusing conversation, and realizing that
I didn't know who Peanut was, he caught on. It was
a funny way to begin, but it got us into a great conversation.
guy is a trip, to say the least! He lives a ways outside
of Austin near Llano and while we were talking, he
was under a tornado alert, just staring at this massive
cloud of black above him. Luckily, it eventually blew
over. It would not be a good thing if the King of
"tequila reggae" and Tex-Mex Rock &
Roll was swept away in Mother Nature's fury, especially
in the middle of my interview!
King has been exceptionally busy this year. In addition
to a heavy concert schedule on the road, he acted
in two movies and has been auditioning for numerous
other roles. On the music side of things, his main
gig of course, he's recorded several songs for two
different movie soundtracks and has a new album in
the can on which he's putting the finishing touches.
Hay Te Guacho Cucaracho (GoodbyeCock-roach) features
lots of new material from Joe King Carrasco, drawing
influence from various Mexican bands. It's more of
a Rock & Roll album, blending in a couple reggae
songs and a little bit of his older stuff from the
80's. Joe King says his band is basically patterned
after Question Mark & Mysterians, Sir Douglas
Quintet (featuring Doug Sahm) and Sam the Sham and
the Pharaohs all combined together. It was interesting
to learn from Joe King that Question Mark & Mysterians,
of the hit "96 tears," are actually from
my own hometown, Bay City, Michigan. The band's guitarist
played with Carrasco for four years and always referred
to my birthplace as "Bay Shitty." Gee, Thanks!
The guys from the band have been trying to get him
up there to do some rehearsing and hanging out. He
compliments "Michigan is a cool rock-n-roll state...
it's a cool place to be from." So, maybe we'll
take a road trip together! Question Mark is actually
a big influence on Joe King's stage persona. “Every
night you can pretend you're somebody... or be yourself.
I like to go up there and pretend I'm Question Mark!"
King's ambition on stage “is to get people dancing.
I played in a lot of Mexican bands and what I learned
is when you're playing a Mexican dance, you're supposed
to get people dancing. So, if they're not dancing,
then something's wrong!" Okay, so not like this
would ever happen with Joe King Carrasco on stage,
but what if people aren't dancing? “Then, I
have to become more animated and physical on stage.
When I play, I try to make it a thing where you dance
and it's a party, and I go out there and party with
you. I go into the audience a lot." With a chuckle
he says, “There can be all kinds of parties!
Weird parties and normal parties... scary parties.
I just believe in movement, that music is supposed
to move you." He promised to someday tell me
about the "other" parties he's been to.
Every kind of party I can imagine. But, I'm sure there
are many that I can't imagine as well!
of party, the night before I talked with Joe King,
he received some disappointing news. Party on the
Plaza, held in Jones Plaza, which we all know as our
Thursday night hangout during season, is expected
to terminate in May. "To me, Party on the Plazas
were great. They played a real instrumental part in
my life. Some of the most amazing challenges I've
ever taken in my life were at Party on the Plaza doing
flips off the stage!" With a laugh he comments,
"I'm just glad to be alive!" On a more serious
note, Joe King says he hates to see it end, it's almost
like a friend dying. "It's real sad for me, because
I had a lot of good times." Despite the end of
the Party on the Plaza era, you can still catch a
great performance by Joe King Carrasco almost everywhere.
covers the globe, and then some. And he surely has
a storage bin of song ideas to keep the music coming.
I was amazed at the fact that he has about 150 90-minute
cassettes with different song ideas he's captured
over the years. Most, he's never done anything more
with. "Ca Ru Cu Pa," featured on his latest
album Hot Sun, evolved from a verse he wrote more
than twenty years ago. He added a verse to it last
year and recorded it. Where does this endless stream
of creative craziness come from? Everywhere, really.
He writes a good amount of songs in his car. He'll
hear a melody in his head or even wake up from a dream
with an idea. Years ago, he used to get up at 4:45
a.m. and play guitar for a couple hours, writing songs
while he watched the sun come up. "When I travel,
I try to go to really remote places where I don't
see a lot of people. I used to travel to Mexico a
lot. We'd spend two or three days in each town and
try to write songs. Then we'd get burned out and go
to another town and try to start over again... lookin'
for that magic song." Well, he must have been
looking in the right places, because he's found plenty
Joe King isn't the only talented one in the house.
His Jack Russell Terrier, Anaconda sings "La
Bamba!" She's been on several radio and TV shows,
received bundles of attention at the Sundance Film
Festival and is featured in an upcoming Texas Monthly
issue as one of 100 musicians in Texas. Is this a
natural talent of hers or what? "It developed
from me playing guitar around her. She started chiming
when I was singing my stuff." Looks like musical
talent runs in the family! Anaconda gave birth to
a puppy four months ago, Peanut. Joe King's other
dog is a ten-year-old Doberman named Peso. A man after
my own heart.
where does he keep all these little furry friends?
He's been building an adobe home with his own two
hands on his patch of land o'er yonder. When I called,
he had just gotten through working on the bathroom.
The quirky thing about this is that despite the days
and weeks he spends on the road and in hotel rooms,
he bought lots of accessories for his adobe from old
Embassy Suites Hotels! Crazy, but I like it.
you've got a craving for this crazy King of Tex-Mex,
go directly to the source, www.joeking.com. It's just
about the only place you can buy his music these days,
and he's happy about that. "That's been really,
really good for me, because it goes directly from
me to the person buying it. I think anybody that's
playing music now can just work off their websites...
that's where it's going now. The whole industry, film
and music, is changing through the Internet. It's
you have it; hopefully a little bit about Joe King
Carrasco that you didn't know. He was such an entertaining
guy to talk to. It was a pleasure. Don't miss him
when he comes to town in May! He will be on the Houston
Headline Stage at Clay and Crawford at the Houston
Downtown Street Festival on May 6th at 8:00pm, and
also playing an after party at Woodrow’s on
the corner of Chimney Rock and Richmond. so live by
his motto and "Be there or be square!"