I was ambling across an open field, walking off a wonderful dinner at one of my favorite restaurants 1Zero6,  just enjoying the cool temperatures of Silver City, New Mexico;  where the Mimbres Arts Council holds its Blues Festival.  This was on the Friday night before it usually started.  I quickly realized there was someone on the stage and that the music was drawing me in, I didn’t remember the Festival starting on Friday night, but I was happy as it bode well for the festival whoever this was, they were playing Blues from the Hill Country of Mississippi. This is a regional style of country blues, and is characterized by a strong emphasis on rhythm and percussion, and steady guitar riffs.  If your still wondering think Mississippi Fred McDowell or RL Burnside for the groove heavy music. There was a one man band on stage, however this guy had it down, concentrating on the slide guitar groove of the music, while also keeping up a steady beat with a drum and tambourine rig.  The audience was under this guys spell and up and dancing.   CW (Cooper) Ayon was the performer and come to find out he is from the desert of southern New Mexico, he comes from Native American roots, and this guy had this Mississippi Hill Country Blues sound down pat.  He had a few guitars up there with him including a Resonator guitar and a couple of nice electric guitars and I think an acoustic guitar.  His music is very hypnotic and just draws you in with it's mesmerizing trance beat and groove and then he adds some catchy hooks that keep you roped in.  Even the people sitting were bobbing and weaving and tapping their feet to the music.  Come to find out his wife taught him to play guitar some years back as she is a musician, and he has taken it to places that are going to take him places.  For someone from the deserts and mountains around the New Mexico/Arizona border, he sure has a feel for the music from the Hill Country way to the east.  Was talking with a friend who lives in some little town  between Clarksdale and Memphis when he was out here fleeing the humidity and he didn’t believe the music was being played by a ‘foreigner,’ as he put it.  CW sure has a feel for this and there isn’t much to do but thank him for his ability to dive into this and bring it to us out here.   CW Ayon, native of the desert, has the rich pregnant sound of the Mississippi Hill Country Blues down and it has that same effect of physically transporting you to that rich wet land even when you have the humidity sucking sun of the desert sucking the water out of you.  His music is boiling your blood and making you move to what he is playing with its hypnotic beat and guitar frills to stimulate your mind back to where it is paying attention.  bob gottlieb ” - Bob Gottlieb

No Depression

What do you learn about yourself from the blues music and culture? What does the blues mean to you? I find that playing Blues and music in general allows me to deal with certain emotions and thoughts that otherwise would have no other outlet. Blues to me means total expression of freedom. I think that it really breaks down barriers between people and allows them a common interest to connect them. How do you describe "CW" Ayon sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy? My sound is my attempt at sounding like Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside. I love the feel and groove that those guys had in their music. My philosophy on music is to keep it simple and honest and ride the groove. What were the reasons that a Native American musician started the Blues/Folk/Roots researches and experiments? Blues was just the only style of music that really moved me. I loved the fact that it was about everyday events that affect us all. Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? There have been so many that it’s hard to narrow it down. Definitely at the top of the list is meeting and getting to play with Denis Agenet and Abdell B. Bop in France recently. Those two guys really made me play the best that I could play. The best advice anyone ever gave me was from my mother, she told me to throw away my guitar pick and use my fingers. It was literally the greatest benefit to my playing that I’ve ever experienced. Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us? I played at an outdoor festival in Nebraska in a rain storm, it felt like it was me against the weather and I survived. In 2014 I was scheduled to play at this outdoor festival and about 15 minutes before I went onstage a big storm hit and I was unable to play. Fast forward to 2015 at the same festival, about 15 minutes before I was to go onstage a storm hit, but I was determined to play my set at this festival so I decided to go ahead and I played in the rain and wind and eventually got everyone in the crowd on the stage with me to keep them out of the rain. Needless to say, we had a great time. It felt like everyone was playing my songs with me, not just as an audience but as a part of the music. It was such a great experience. I’ll never forget it. What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of? I miss the rawness the most. The old Blues that I like had a certain quality to it that seemed new and old at the same time. I just hope that people keep playing Blues forever, I believe that it truly is one of the great art forms. If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be? I would change the fact that record labels and businessmen seem to have more control over the music than the musicians. People that create music do so from their hearts and souls and then some businessman comes along and claims it like they created it and slaps a price tag on it and keeps the money for themselves. I understand the fact that music is valuable to people but, that doesn’t always mean that that value is exclusively about money. What are the lines that connect the Blues with the Native American music and traditional forms? I think that Hill Country Blues in particular has a groove based simplicity to it that resonates with a lot of people because the steady beat grabs you instantly, much like the beat of a Powwow drum. Steady like a heartbeat. What is the status of Native Americans in music? What touched (emotionally) you from the one-man band style? I honestly don’t know much about Native American’s in music, I can only speak from my experience. I do know that in the Southwest there are several bands that are made up of only Native American members and they’re fantastic musicians. But I really don’t believe that race has anything to do with how a person listens to or plays or enjoys music. If you love music, you love it plain and simple. What attracted me to the One Man Band (OMB) style of playing was again, the simplicity. I loved the fact that one musician could deliver a solid full sounding performance by him or herself. For me it is very freeing and unrestrictive, if I want to play a particular song fast I can, and if I want to change a lyric or a melody, I can, in the middle of a song. I can write a new song one night and play it the very next day at a show, or completely make up a song on the spot at a show. What is the impact of Blues and Folk Roots music and culture to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications? Wow, great question. I don’t know that I’m really qualified to answer that. I can say that music is a powerful force, and if one wanted to use it to sway minds and get people to think in a certain way, that is completely possible. Which was proven with the protest songs and music in the 60’s. It gave people a voice and the world stood up and took notice. Fortunately I’ve only known music to be positive and used to help people and make them feel good or remember a certain time in their lives. I believe that music is ingrained in our DNA as humans and is therefore very important to our survival. In other words, it gives us a rhythm to live our lives by. Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day? Another great question, let’s see. I think I would like to go back to a time before people decided that they owned everything and just lived out their lives with their families, in tune with all the natural rhythms that surround us everyday. I guess it all comes back to living simply, use only what you need and give what you can, and don’t forget to smile and sing when you feel like it.” - Michalis Limnios

Blues @ Greece

This is an 11-track album drawing strongly and positively on the renowned blues music of the Mississippi hills. CW, or Cooper, Ayon is a part-Cherokee native American from New Mexico who wields a guitar with purpose while beating out a rhythm with his free feet on drum and cymbal – a one-man band of some note and compleity with a wayward and deceptively simple guitar style that more than hints at his musical pedigree and love of the Deep South blues tradition. The overall feel of this recording is decidedly acoustic while the actual fretwork leans to the light, soulful electric playing style of late – period pickers like Texas wizard   Lightnin’ Hopkins, albeit hitting it here as a one-man-band! The one-man-band format seems to be going through something of a rebirth at the moment, gaining new fans and popularity with a new wave of music lovers. Ayon is quickly establishing himself as an international master of the style and Enough To Be Proud is a mighty fine addition to that particular musical cannon. A style that relies heavily of necessity on open guitar tunings, this album is a splendid example of just how good  well-worn tradition can be when played with passion and spirit.” - Iain Patience

Cashbox Magazine Canada

Cover: CW Ayon's 'Setting Son' — Unexpected album abounds with creativity In what he calls a "happy mistake," local musician Cooper Ayon, known as CW Ayon, explores his talent for songwriting in his fifth album, "Setting Son. It just kind of happened, and those are the best," he said. Setting Son" came about when Ayon's record label, Solitary Records out of Chicago, asked him to record four songs for a compilation album that would include two other one-man bands. Before he knew it, he had enough material for a full album. He recorded 12 songs for "Setting Son" last year in Las Cruces and it's now available online at iTunes and CD Baby. Hard copies may be purchased locally at Hubbard's Music-n-More, Hastings, Mountain Music and Vintage Wines. Setting Son" is a collection of hill country, a style of Mississippi blues with forefathers the likes of Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Robert Belfour. Those guys are just awesome," Ayon said. "That music is so ingrained in who those guys were. I don't know, maybe that's what I like about it. They built their own myths about themselves. The album is heavy on the blues. It has a simple beat, making it perfect for a one-man band, such as CW Ayon, to play. Ayon plays all instrument parts - even sometimes with a harmonica around his neck. He has a kick drum at his feet, a tambourine around one shoe, a guitar on his lap and a microphone in front of his lips. As a youngster, music from the '50s and '60s struck his musical interest. He loved the way real instruments sounded compared to the new stuff that seemed to have an unattractive gloss over it, he said. In "Setting Son" Ayon stays true to the essence of previous albums. In true blues fashion, there are songs about broken hearts and the pain that comes after a good woman leaves. It's easy to connect to the emotions in this album, as well as Ayon's other work. In true blues fashion, they're down to earth, relatable and great for dancing. Ayon has steadily released albums since 2009.   Andi Murphy may be reached at 575-541-5453.   Discography Setting Son," 2014 Live at the Rio Grande Theatre," 2013 Lohmador," 2012 Ain't No Use in Moving," 2011 Is What It Is," 2010 Gone," 2009  ” - Andi Murphy

Las Cruces Sun News

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a not-so-secret love affair with New Mexico. My New Mexico is the same as Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico; minus the sheer brilliance of her painting skills. From its wide open area, to the ability of the state to seamlessly blend a number of cultures together, the 47th state remains pure and unspoiled. This pure and unspoiled quality is present through all of New Mexican Bluesman C.W. Ayon’s (pronounced “I Own”) music. C.W. Ayon blends a distinctly non-cliche blues vocal sounds with his hook-driven guitar lines. Ayon’s “New Mexican blues” are rakish and cool. While it is easy to label C.W. Ayon as another North Mississippi Hill country blues artist, his ability to avoid the contemporary traps of the current sound that ‘all those kids rave over’ makes C.W. Ayon not-just-another North Mississippi Hill Country act. On Setting Son, Ayon’s second release for the Chicago based Solitary Records, fans of Ayon’s three previous self releases are treated to more what makes Ayon’s act so damn enjoyable to this critic’s ears. “Last Ride” kicks off with a tight danceable guitar groove before Ayon kicks in his percussion rig. While calling attention to Ayon’s syncopation may seem trivial, his ability to create an impressive groove with limited instrumentation has to be why David and Kinney named C.W. an honorary Kimbrough. While all 12 tracks to Setting Son are highly enjoyable groove related material my favorite track track is “Knock the Rust Off”. Ayon cuts a swaggering groove on his acoustic guitar over his percussion section before applying his bohemian vocals. As with all of his material, C.W. will have you bobbing your head and swaying to the music in no time. At press time, C.W. Ayon has not managed to tour the East coast yet, but all five of his releases are available for sale at his web site or through CD Baby. Rather than worry about which one is the disk for you, buy them all. You’ll be glad you did.” - Georgetown Fats

Boston Blues Society

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