Saturday, May 19, 2012
Rafael Espinoza with The Hubbard Family on Marshall’s Telegraph Stage
I was most struck by the improvement in his vocals. His voice is fuller, richer, more soulful.
MARSHALL I hate to say it, but a year out of Texas has changed Rafael Espinoza.
We first saw young Espinoza about a year ago when he played an acoustic set opening for Emily Elbert at Crossroads Music Company. At the time he had been accepted to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston. He sang a blues number or two, which I found to be not particularly impressive, and then wrapped up his short set with the instrumental that he had used as part of his admissions exam to Berklee. It turned out to be a smokin' cover of a Stevie Ray Vaughn tune. Had the crowd shouting by the time it was over. This was on an acoustic, mind you. It was obvious to those in the room that here was a young musician with great talent.
Last night was my first opportunity to hear Espinoza play since that appearance. He was in Downtown Marshall on the outdoor Telegraph Stage, this time on an electric and backed by a three piece group. Wow! His guitar work on a range of blues artist covers was impressive, as I expected. But I was most struck by the improvement in his vocals. His voice is fuller, richer, more soulful. Some of this may be due just to physical maturity, and the experience of many more on-stage performances. But my guess is that his time away from Texas, studying with top-notch professional musicians and educators, is mostly responsible.
Also appearing on the Telegraph Stage was The Hubbard Family, a very unique gospel group from Bullard. The five member group (and yes, they really are all from a single family) is very active in the area playing in the southern gospel, country-rock and bluegrass styles. Last night they extended their range, offering up some Jesus-centered lyrics in a knock-out blues style.