Andres Garcia has a smile that can light up any room and a talent that leaves many in awe.
A Memorial Middle School student, Garcia, will once again hit the stage with his guitar for the Fifth Annual Ain’t Got No Frojiles Blues Festival. This year’s festival will begin Friday with a cruise around town starting at 6 p.m. at Plaza Park.
Miguel Angel, executive director of Casa de Cultura, the organizing agency for the event, said the vehicles drive around town for roughly an hour before heading back to the Plaza Hotel ballroom for an evening of dancing to the tunes of Jeff Romero and the Rainy Morning Blues Band, and the Jake Loggins Band. There is no charge to join the “cruise”; however; there is a $10 charge for the Friday evening dance.
Saturday afternoon, Garcia will kick off the festival’s free concert. Garcia will open up for festival headliner Hillary Smith and Soul Kitchen at 12:30 p.m Saturday at Plaza Park. Following Garcia and Smith will be Kenny Sky Wolf and the Jake Loggins Band.
“This year’s festival is going to be good,” Angel said. “Throughout the years they get better. Last year we had roughly 1,200 for the two-day event.”
Food venders and other booths will be set up around the park.
“There will be plenty of fun for everyone,” Angel said.
Garcia said he is excited and looking forward to Saturday. He plans to play blues songs and a mixture of rock and blues.
“Andres is a great musician and when he plays and when other children perform, they set great examples for other kids,” Angel said.
He added that Casa de Cultura, a non-profit, showcases children in various events they organize. In the past, the organization has involved area youth in the mural creation on display at the old Safeway parking lot and the mariachi groups from Las Vegas City Schools perform regularly for Casa de Cultura events, including their annual Dia de Los Muertos event.
Angel hopes to turn the annual blues festival into a destination event like the Fourth of July Fiestas.
For Garcia, performing on stage has brought him a sense of calm.
“I used to get nervous about performing, but not anymore,” he said.
Garcia has been playing the guitar for seven years. Playing the guitar seems to be a natural talent for Garcia as he has caught the attention of blues musicians around the state. In July, Garcia attended a two-week music camp in Albuquerque called Rock 101 on full scholarship, courtesy of the New Mexico Blues Society.
“I want to be the type of musician that gets to play at various places and maybe one day to get discovered by the music industry,” Garcia said.
It was the video game Guitar Hero that got Garcia thinking about playing. He told his parents, Randy and Annette Garcia, that he wanted to learn how to play the musical instrument, and they got him into guitar lessons.
His parents said their youngest son practices guitar whenever he has a free moment, including after getting ready for the day, after school and in the evenings.
Andres Garcia enjoys the blues music of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King, BB King and Jimi Hendrix.
“Music consumes a big part of my life,” he said.
Andres is currently taking voice lessons with Michael Rascon.
On Saturday, members of Jeff Romero and the Rainy Morning Blues Band will accompany Andres. Romero has been teaching Andres Garcia the guitar for several years.
In his spare time away from school, Andres likes to play tennis with his father, a local dentist.
As for his mom, she also plays the guitar and has accompanied her son for previous appearances including once when he performed for Fiesta de la Hispanidad.
Andres Garcia plays trumpet for the Memorial Middle School mariachi group.
“Andres has had great instructors, including Jeff Romero and Martin Sena and now Michael Rascon that have helped him along his musical path,” Randy Garcia said. “We are really blessed to live in a community where there are a lot of great musicians around us.”