Marfa, Texas, is best known for its vibrant visual arts scene, but in recent years headliners like St. Vincent and Solange have come through these parts, making this tiny town a burgeoning music destination. Less known is the area’s homegrown music scene, which ranges from rap to electronic and acts that showcase the border region’s rich bilingual heritage.
For most locals music is a side gig. Marfa Public Radio DJ and musician David Beebe, for instance, also happens to be a Presidio County justice of the peace. Beebe says the residents’ tendency to play many different roles in the community is known as the “Marfa shuffle.” He moved to Marfa in 2007 and opened a local music venue shortly after. Though it has since closed, venues like the Hotel Saint George regularly host local musicians. Beebe told Explore Parts Unknown’s Emily Marinoff about some notable acts to look out for in Presidio County.
The mayor of the city of Presidio, John Ferguson, and family have a “Presidio shuffle” to rival the one in Marfa. The Resonators, who moonlight as a mariachi band called Mariachi Santa Cruz, are a “variety dance band with great vocals, horns, and groove,” Beebe says. Ferguson’s daughter Molly won Tejano Idol in Austin last year. By Beebe’s standards that makes her a “total badass.”
This three-member instrumental band that “makes people dance” is on the rise, Beebe says. Their repertoire features a variety of energetic tunes, mellow grooves, and a mix of the two—heard in their latest release.
Rapper Joel Hernandez, aka Kashmir, came onto the Marfa music scene when he started uploading self-produced tracks to Soundcloud in 2017. His self-described “trap with soul” features surprisingly layered beats and lyrics that reflect on topics like race and masculinity. Beebe says Kashmir is one of Marfa’s most “cutting-edge” acts.
Primo Carrasco and David Beebe
Once in a while Beebe teams up with fellow Marfa Public Radio DJ Primo Carrasco to play éxitos viejos, classic polka-inflected conjunto and norteño hits from the Texas-Mexico border region.
Every couple of months some 25 Marfa shufflers come together to honor a famous country or folk singer on the anniversary of his or her death. More than a macabre tribute, these are community celebrations that raise funds for local charities. Most recently the group celebrated country music pioneer Ernest Tubb (who died on September 6, 1984) and raised $1,171 for an orphanage in Ojinaga, Mexico. The next show will honor country singer Gary Stewart, who died on Dec. 16, 2003.