Doing Us Proud On The National Music Scene
Matt Morgan grew up in a musical family and while the gene has always been in him, he didn’t pick up a guitar himself until he was on a military deployment. “That’s when my passion started to grow and I knew that I wanted to do something with music. When I got back from deployment, I started going to open mic nights. It was just a hobby until about five, six years ago when I started to get serious about it,” he remembers.
Looking for new opportunities and the chance to push himself, he headed out to Las Vegas. So far, it’s been a “crazy learning experience with some of the highest highs and the lowest lows.” He’s received a full-on immersion into the entertainment side of the music world, and is now starting to shift his focus to the “more artistic side of things—actually writing songs and performing them on tour.”
He’s still performing as a solo act, as well as part of the newly formed duo The Orange Feathers with fellow musician Miles V. While The Orange Feathers’ sound is firmly rooted in the Americana genre, Matt describes his solo vibe as simply “eclectic, a merging of different styles.”
In the long run, he dreams of playing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and touring in Europe.
Right now, his focus is on recording and releasing albums, both his first solo album and The Orange Feathers’ first—and he says that’s just the beginning: “Everything up to this point has taught me what I needed to know to get here, but I consider this year one for us.”
Currently Based Out Of: Las Vegas, NV
Shared the Stage With: Lee Brice, Montgomery Gentry, Darryl Worley, Chase Bryant, Aaron Watson, Tyler Ward
Musical Influences: “People who write and perform their own songs.” Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, John Prine, Jason Isbell
Hometown Favorites: Andele’s and Santa Fe Grill. “I always try and stop in to the venues I got my start playing at: Luna Rossa, Dublin’s, Pecan Grill & Brewery.”
Alyssa Newton got her start singing and playing instruments at Las Cruces’ University Church of Christ. She took piano lessons from a very early age, and was completely hooked on music by the third grade when she received a guitar for Christmas. She became a self-proclaimed “wanna-be Taylor Swift,” writing songs all throughout high school and eventually enrolling in the famed songwriting program at Belmont University in Nashville where she’s now a sophomore.
Alumni of the program include Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line, and Josh Turner. A typical day for Alyssa might include attending songwriting class on Nashville’s Music Row and learning from the world-renowned songwriters who are professors at the school, but she says she’s also just enjoying a normal college experience. “People think I’m doing music all day every day, but I’m still taking general ed classes, speech, and Spanish. When I’m not in class, I’m getting coffee with friends,” she says.
In the future, Alyssa says she can see herself hitting the road as a country or Christian act, or perhaps leading worship, but for now she says she’s just being as proactive as she can to advance her singing and songwriting. Proactive indeed. A longtime fan of the Las Cruces Country Music Festival, Alyssa reached out to the event organizers last summer and earned herself a spot in the lineup for the 2017 festival. She’ll be playing some covers, but she’s also been doing a lot of writing and says her set list for the festival will be primarily composed of originals.
“I remember going to the festival in high school when Casadee Pope was headlining,” she says. “My friend and I pushed our way to the front to be part of the action. I thought, I wonder if they would even consider someone like me who grew up here and is trying to pursue this as a career. I emailed them and explained my goals and aspirations and what I’m doing and luckily for me, they agreed to let me part of it.”
Check out Alyssa’s album For the Sake of Honesty, available on Itunes, and see her AND BRI perform live at the Las Cruces Country Music Festival from April 28-30.
Currently Based Out Of: Nashville, TN
Shared the Stage With: American Christian band Unspoken
Musical Influences: “Taylor Swift. Kacey Musgraves. Her songs are clever and witty. I’m a big fan of
the up-and-comers that are blending country with pop melody sounds, like Maren Morris.”
Hometown Favorites: Milagro Coffee Y Espresso, The Bean, watching movies at Allen Theaters, hiking in the Organ Mountains
What have you been up to lately? What’s a typical week like?
My band (The Banned) meets every week near College Station to pick up our van and trailer and hit the road. Last week, I played a show in Houston Saturday night, jumped on a plane Sunday to Nashville, flew back to Texas Thursday night and woke up at 6am to play in Lubbock and San Antonio Friday and Saturday. This week I had four shows all over Texas. I usually use Monday and Tuesday to catch up on emails, laundry, songwriting, and workouts. I am usually running 110 percent all the time… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What can we expect at your LC Country Music Fest performance?
I have an amazing band. I’m actually bringing a few special guests from Texas that will be jumping up on stage and singing/playing with us! I’m so excited for that. I think it adds a lot to the show to have some fresh faces. I will be singing my song “Las Cruces” (of course!) and also some new, unreleased material that I can’t wait for my hometown to hear.
Are you releasing a new album soon?
I have a new album coming out this fall. New music, full-length, and it’s been a long time coming. The best way to support that is to pre-order the record when it’s available, which I will announce via facebook.com/bribagwell.
What do you enjoy doing outside of music?
I love to read. When I can’t read (because of all the driving that I do), I still get my fix by listening to audiobooks. I also try to work out and stay healthy due to the fact that the road can be tough on the bod. I also love to ski (water and snow), and do anything sporty and outdoors.
Currently Based Out Of: “Right now, no joke, I am living a gypsy life! I have plans to build a tiny home in Johnson City, Texas, which I am so excited about! Other than that, I’m ‘homeless’ for now.
Shared the Stage With: Miranda Lambert, Gary Allan, Tracy Byrd, Neal McCoy, Eli Young Band, Rodney Crowell, The Band Perry, Josh Abbott, Randy Rogers, Tracy Lawrence, Turnpike Troubadours
Musical Influences: “I love a lot of Texas country. Miranda Lambert is obviously one of my biggest influences, but all of the singer-songwriters in Texas really have shaped my sound and songwriting. Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen probably take the cake on that one!”
Hometown Favorites: Margaritas and enchiladas at La Posta; Double Eagle; hot chile at Chilitos; Spanish Kitchen; green chile cheeseburger at Dick’s Café; Hubbard’s Music-N-More
402 S. Melendres St.
3206 Harrelson St.
Azul Ultra Lounge
705 S. Telshor Ave.
Boots & Bourbon
505 S. Main St.
Bosque Brewing Co.
901 E. University Ave.
Las Brasas Mexican Grill
605 E. Lohman Ave.
Café Don Felix de Mesilla
2290 Calle de Parian, Mesilla
Dublin’s Street Pub
1745 E. University Ave.
The Game Sports Bar and Grill
2605 S. Espina
The Game II – Extra Innings
4131 Northrise Dr.
Halo’s Ultra Lounge
2460 S. Locust St.
High Desert Brewing Co
1201 W. Hadley Ave.
Josefina’s Old Gate
2611 Calle de Guadalupe
Luna Rossa Winery & Pizzeria
1321 Avenida de Mesilla
NM Vintage Wines, Beers & Cigars
2461 Calle de Principal, Mesilla
2600 Avenida de Mesilla
El Patio Cantina
2171 Calle de Parian, Mesilla
Pecan Grill & Brewery
500 S. Telshor Blvd.
Picacho Peak Brewing Co.
3900 W. Picacho Ave.
1201 E. Amador Ave
Rio Grande Vineyard & Winery
5321 NM Highway 28
St. Clair Winery & Bistro
1720 Avenida de Mesilla
Sombra Antigua Winery
430 La Vina Rd, La Mesa
Sparky’s Burgers, BBQ and Espresso
115 Franklin St., Hatch
The Warehouse BAR
1490 E. Missouri St.
Whiskey Dicks Las Cruces
101 E. Union Ave.