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Thanks for the Music

New Mexico music finds a national audience

New Mexico has a variety of vibrant, live, music and talented musicians throughout the state to be thankful for. Musicians here have been known to play concert halls, breweries, and local festivals.

Felix Peralta is a native New Mexican musician who has been playing music for the past 20 years. His band is called Felix y Los Gatos. Peralta grew up in the south valley and spent time with his family in Los Lunas and Tome’ New Mexico.

He says, “My grandpa played accordion and there was always music around. My inspiration was family backyard parties.” His musical family gave him his passion for music and taught him to play guitar. His musical grandfather introduced him to the accordion. Peralta sings and plays the guitar, accordion, harmonica, and harp. He says musicians should, “Be one with where you are and the progress of it…just continue doing it. Stay true to your craft.”

Peralta believes New Mexico is his niche when it comes to music. “I just love New Mexico. Last year I stayed in the state and just toured around the whole state. New Mexico is beautiful.”   Peralta is also part of Nueva Luna. The musical group includes New Mexico State Historian Rob Martinez and Lara Manzanares.

In his spare time, Peralta likes to fish and travel to historical landmarks in New Mexico. “I am a historian. I love the history of New Mexico.”

His original band was called “Felix and the Cats,” but needed a New Mexican name so they became “Felix y Los Gatos”. Peralta is known as the “Main Gato” and lead singer/guitarist in the group. The second core member is D.B. Gomez who plays the accordion. Peralta, also called “Gato Mala,” embraces his nickname. He completes the persona at his shows with whiskers drawn upon his face. Peralta writes his own music and plays solo at El Pinto Restaurant where he has a residency.

Felix y Los Gatos recently performed at The Bridge in Santa Fe and opened for the legendary Los Lobos. Peralta says playing with Los Lobos was a full-circle moment for him.

“Los Lobos was really epic. I grew up listening to them and watching the movie La Bamba. So to get to perform was like whoa-it’s a full circle. They are down to earth and really nice and we just talked music.”

Felix y Los Gatos has performed at the Chicago Blues Fest, on the Durango Blues Train, and at the Canyon Blues and Jazz Fest. You can also catch the eclectic band at local festivals and breweries. Peralta describes their sound as “green chile gumbo.” The band’s energetic music has a New Mexican sound with a twist of Zydeco dance music. Zydeco is Creole music from Louisiana that combines R&B , blues, and jazz.” Audiences are treated to lively Latin cumbias, rhythmic polkas, and accordion-driven Zydeco. This blend of sounds is what makes Felix y Los Gatos unique. “We can be diverse and play Zydeco, New Orleans, Latin Cumbia…we kind of keep it open.”

Peralta tours locally and nationally with the rest of the “cats” in his band. They’ve kept their friendship and the band going for twenty years. The group is especially popular in Taos and Santa Fe. Their next year is booked with music festivals around the country and some potential performances in Europe. Even outside of New Mexico Peralta’s lyrics and local stories are embraced. “Sometimes I have to say a brief description of my New Mexico songs, but a lot of people have visited here. They are well received.”

The musician is proud of his songwriting which has garnered awards and even been used for films.

Peralta embraces being a history buff and is now an oral historian singing New Mexico’s story. Visit www.felixylosgatos.com for private bookings and more information.

“My grandpa played accordion and there was always music around. My inspiration was family backyard parties."

“Be one with where you are and the progress of it…just continue doing it. Stay true to your craft.”

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