The air is rising with SocorroFest harmonica contest

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If you think the Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta has cornered the market on hot air, think again. There will be plenty of hot air blowing around at the third annual SocorroFest Harmonica Contest on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Capitol Bar in Socorro.
The organizers of SocorroFest are inviting harmonica players from near and far to show off their mad harp skills for a wildly enthusiastic crowd of music lovers and the chance to win $600 in cash prizes.
In Socorro harmonica players get their chance to show their talent. At the SocorroFest Harmonica Contest, they and their $25 entry fee are welcomed with open arms.
The rules are simple. Contestants will have five minutes to wow the judges with any harp they can pull out of their pocket and any trick they can pull out of their hat. Any brand of harmonica, any style of instrument, any style of music.
That alone is worth a trip to Socorro, never mind the rest of the 36 continuous hours of live music packed into three stages and featuring Doug Figgs and the Cowboy Way as well as many others.
The first SocorroFest harmonica contest in 2008 was a small, friendly competition, held on the patio of the former Stage Door Grill with a handful of local players.
More prize money in subsequent years drew more attention and more participation from across the state. By 2011, nine participants had thrown their talents in the ring on stage and can be seen at www.socorrofest.com, with their full performances.
Last year’s winner, Marvin Jaramillo, is a professional harmonica player from Albuquerque.
“The stage fright is always there,” Jaramillo told Sonic Weekly reporter Anna Terrain in a 2006 interview. “I’ve been playing for 45 years and it never goes away; I shake and tremble every time I play because I don’t want people to watch me — I want them to hear me, but I don’t want them to watch me directly and that’s what makes me nervous.”
Jaramillo not only plays on his own, but often can be seen on stage with fellow musicians.
“I’ve played with several musicians, some that have inspired me and some that have really taken me to places musically that I’d never been before,” Jaramillo told Terrain. “Music is a one time thing, give it the best feeling you have and play with your heart.”