POSTED: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 2:33pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 7:13pm
EL PASO- Chances are you have seen jazz musician Billy Townes perform or at least heard of him.
After all, he has been playing in the Borderland for nearly a quarter of a century. So what is it that has made him the popular figure he is? The bottom line is, he says, is that he loves what he does.
"This is the Yamaha 6’3” Grand Piano. This is my baby,” said Billy as he played a song.
From the time Townes was old enough to walk he was in front of the piano. "Mom was a piano teacher. I had no choice," said Billy.
After his first recital as a toddler, he never stopped performing. "I’ve been playing in El Paso on a constant basis since 1988," said Billy.
Billy, who plays solo and with his band, has entertained crowds at clubs, restaurants and all kinds of events throughout our area. "It used to be I play like five times a week but as we get older, I can only do so much. I try to play maybe two maybe three times a week,” said Billy.
He has even taken his talent to one of the biggest stages in the jazz music scene. "I played at the Blue Note in New York about 12 years ago. That was the pinnacle of my career playing out there. That was fun. That's one of the top jazz clubs in the whole world," said Billy.
When Billy’s not performing live, he's at Shade Records Studios, his record label, where he composes, produces, and records all styles of music.
"I play R&B, jazz, Rock, Spanish, Tex-Mex, classical, but my forte is more in jazz," said Billy.
Billy has also expanded his horizons to include feature films, having directed the movies Border Lords and Border Lords II. But, he says nothing beats listening to live musicians. "You see the music. You're right there. You see the musician creating the music, as opposed to 'Ok, it's coming from the speakers',” said Billy.
Billy attributes his longevity in the music scene here in El Paso and being able to do what he loves because he says he and his band mates give it their all. "Every single performance, we take seriously and we really dig in. We try to make that the best performance to our ability and we love playing," said Billy.
Billy is scheduled to perform at Pelican's restaurant on the West Side this Thursday and the following one at 7:30 p.m. and at The Garden Downtown this Friday at 7:00 p.m.