He is the vocals, guitar and rhythm section. Oh, and he also provides the lyrics and music: C.W. Ayon, One Man Band. On stage, he thumps out a driving rhythm with his right foot, provides a snare and tambourine with his left, offers up some throaty lyrics, and picks out blues riffs – all at once.
Ayon grew up listening to his mom strum out country and oldies, but he didn’t pick up a guitar of his own until he was in his twenties. On his first venture into the world of music, he was kicked out of his school’s junior high band class, because he couldn’t read music. Years later, he found love at first chord progression. From the start, he knew he wanted to play and sing to a crowd. After reading a dozen books on guitar and spending hundreds of hours listening to Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, he felt ready to play.
First, it was for a cover band and then a few southern-rock bands. They played Las Cruces, El Paso, even Phoenix. Ayon provided vocals and guitar. Band life can be hard. There are egos to accommodate and disagreements about song arrangements. For some members, it’s purely about the music, the crowd, the high of watching people respond. For other members, it is about a lifestyle – picking up a girl, drinking. When Ayon’s last band broke-up, he left all that behind.
Three years ago, Ayon and his wife, Carol, saw Richard Johnston play in Silver City, New Mexico. The blues singer, playing guitar, surrounded by his drums made an impression on Ayon. Instead of rounding up another band, he decided to become his own band. He rigged up a kit, practiced in his garage while his wife and two little girls offered advice and encouragement, and booked a debut.
The entire Las Cruces music community turned out for his first solo show at the Rainforest Bar in Las Cruces. People sang along, crept up to the stage to view the rig, and danced. He remembers it as his favorite the show, the show where he knew this one-man band idea could work.
It has worked. His phone rings with gig offers, two or three times a day. He has a CD “Gone” coming out in August, and better than all of that, he’s found his own style — a bluesy, rock driven style that gives voice to all his influences, but still holds something purely original, purely C.W. Ayon.
Ayon talks about cutting his hair. People tell him, he’ll lose his power, like Sampson. Yet Ayon’s power is not in his hair, it’s in his love of the music. He’ll tell you over and over, “I just wanna play.”
And we just want to listen.