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MUSIC FUSE

Cumbia-rock fusion

Con Sal y Limón forges music with an accent

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Con Sal y Limón combines the talents and appeal of three young Las Cruces musicians fusing cumbia, blues and rock genres to create original and increasingly popular drinking and dancing music.

The band’s name even comes from a familiar Southwestern party phrase: “Tecate (or everything) is better con Sal y Limon” (“with salt and lime,” in English).

The group is comprised of Damián Luna, Calista Singley and Cody Nordwall, with Luna and Singley on electric guitar and vocals, and Nordwall on drums.

Singley, 29, is a Montana native who came to Las Cruces in 2014. Luna, 34, and Nordwall, 26, are both Las Cruces natives. Luna is a graduate of Oñate High School and Nordwall Las Cruces High.

Luna and Singley had dated for a while and met Nordwall at Chalas Wood Fire Grill in Mesilla. The three formed Con Sal y Limon in September 2018 and performed their first gig last April.

Luna grew up listening to Latin bands, he said, and his love of “bluesy cumbia” music helped develop the band’s style. Mexican-American cumbia group Los Kumbia Kings from Corpus Christi, Texas, were a “big influence” for him, Luna said. (Cumbia comes from the African word “cumbe,” which means “dance.” It was likely introduced into the Western Hemisphere by African slaves in the 17th century.

Nordwall began playing drums in middle school at age 13 and had played in a few metal bands, including a high school rock band, before meeting Luna and Singley.

“I never stopped teaching myself. I just learned by playing songs,” Nordwall said. “It’s been interesting,” he said, learning a different style of music to perform with Luna and Singley. “I finally have a feel for the style. It’s awesome.”

“We are developing a different sound,” Singley said, including lyrics performed in both English and Spanish. “It’s a different style of cumbia.”

The band continues in an experimental phase, Singley said, as she, Luna and Nordwall decide what they want the band to sound like.

“I have an accent in both languages,” Luna said. In Mexico, where he has family, Luna said he sometimes is told he speaks Spanish with an American accent. In Montana and Florida, people have said he speaks English with a Spanish accent.

“With each language, you develop a different attitude,” he said.

“This band definitely pushes us,” Luna said. “It’s a lot of hard work.”

That’s because the local music scene is constantly in flux, with more venues opening up and then some closing or changing formats.

Con Sal y Limón performs all over southern New Mexico and will be playing in southern Arizona in October and November.

“We take our job with us,” Singley said. She and Luna are both professional musicians, pursuing full-time musical careers with this band and also as solo performers and as music teachers. “You can absolutely make a living as a musician,” said Singley, who also plays the piano, and has been gigging since age 15.

“These guys really do a lot of work,” Nordwall said. “They come so prepared.”

“Book your gigs and put yourself out there, that’s our goal,” said Luna, who began playing violin while in the sixth grade at Sierra Middle School and remembers performing at the Mariachi Conference in Las Cruces the following year. Luna continued playing the violin through high school. His love of the guitar has helped Luna develop Latin American musical rhythms and patterns, he said, and in writing songs for the band.

The success of the band will depend on “how bad you want it,” Singley said.

“We spend so much time together,” she said, rehearsing, performing and traveling. That time spent bonding with each other is helping the band develop its musical and communication styles, she said. “We’re like family.”

“So far, we really like where it’s going,” Luna said. “It’s a really cool project.”

Contact Con Sal y Limon at consalylimonband@gmail.com and find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Mike Cook may be contacted at mike@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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