By Ari Snider
Marfa musicians Primo Carrasco and David Beebe are familiar names in the Far West Texas music scene. The duo has played together for years now, but just released their first album earlier this month — just in time for the new year.
It’s a warm, breezy day at Coffield Park in Marfa, and Remijio “Primo” Carrasco and David Beebe are feeling good. The duo just released their first album together — “Primo y Beebe.” The album is 20 covers of some of their favorite tracks spanning Mexican, Texan, and American Western genres.
“I think what I like about it is it’s easy to listen to,” Beebe said while reflecting on their album. “You can put it on in the background and it’s just there. And if you wanna turn it up and jam out to it, you can do that too.”
The two have been playing and singing together for about eight years now. Primo on guitar and Spanish vocals, Beebe on bass and English vocals, with the occasional Spanish harmony.
The two first met when Primo began performing regularly at Padre’s, a Marfa restaurant which Beebe was running at the time.
Primo said, “He gave me $40, plus two huge hamburgers, and you know a Budweiser, and a tequila.”
The two started performing together soon after that, and became regular fixtures at events throughout West Texas. Over the years, they’ve played everything from parties, bars, weddings and even performed last year in Boquillas del Carmen, the rural Mexican village across the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park.
After a few mistarts, the duo officially started work on their album about a year ago — but like everyone they had to make adjustments around the pandemic.
“We took a break. We were all kinda nervous,” according to Beebe.
But as people figured out masks and social distancing, they got themselves back into the studio.
Primo and Beebe cover a range of musical traditions in their hour-long album. It spans conjunto and ranchera to country and bolero, but they imbue it all with their own signature sound. The way Primo describes it, his guitar playing is similar to the manual transmission in an old car — simple, but effective.
Laughing Primo explained, “They ask me how many chords [I know.] Three, like the old cars — first, second, and third. Minors is reverse, once in a while.”
That limited range, Beebe said, caused the pair to make some creative changes to some of the songs they cover.
“Our version, it may only have three chords, if the original had six we may only skip the other three, and just do three. Maybe.”
Primo is originally from Ojinaga, Chihuahua and has lived his whole life in the borderlands. So in a way, it’s no surprise his guitar and vocals call on musical traditions that blur geographic lines. Beebe is from Texas, but said the duo’s unique sound is largely thanks to Primo’s instincts and style.
“The music that comes out of him is pure border music. I’m watered down,” Beebe said.
The duo is already thinking about what comes next. With their first album having such a warm reception Primo said the duo may head back to the studio record their second album soon.