Javier Trejo
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Javier Trejo

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"Javier, also Latino-American, plays guitar and has a killer falsetto that will have you searching for the female backup singer." **
** The Southeast Angle - The Southeast Angle

The New Primitives opened up the show on Saturday night. They honored Bob Marley that night not by playing his songs, but by releasing an incredible energy inspired by Marley. They featured the whole band. Everyone worked together so well. From front man Stan Kipper, whose dancing during the rests communicated as much as his soulful timbale-playing and singing...To Jeff Kartak, the gray-haired flutist/saxophonist who occasionally gave the songs a WAR feel, and always a high melody as a counterpart to all the complexity of the percussion…To the guitarist Javier Trejo, with Latin-pop phrasing in his singing and solid guitar playing…To Chico Perez, who animatedly played the bongos/congas/sleigh bells/cow bell/anything else you can think of…To Tom Peterson tying the beat together on bass…To Joel Arpin tapping it out on the trap drum set…everyone up there was loving the music. You could see this in their faces and the way their bodies moved and in the DJ. Even though he had few responsibilities during the middle of the songs, he was so happy about the music and went over to pick up Stan’s drumsticks when they fell: to make it a good show. - Howwastheshow.com

St. PaulaPalooza Kickoff
Station Four

The annual street festival St. PaulaPalooza has one frontloaded event jumping off at Station Four: Javier Trejo, Desdamona and David Daniels all on the same bill. Desdamona is on this year’s Minnesota Music Awards ballot for Best Hip-Hop Recording with her newest album, The Ledge. That’s to go along with having copped the Best Spoken Word Artist award in 2000, 2003 and 2004. Small wonder, when you sample a verse from her website: “They are blind to the signs that the rhyme combined with the mind connects them to their feminine side/ the groove slips between their thighs and makes their hips wide like mine.” The old street saying, “That ain’t no real white girl” fits her to a tee. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Trejo, known as a member of the New Primitives and for his weekly gigs at the Terminal Bar, is a favorite of the jam-band set, especially those who get a serious jones when Big Wu is out on the road. His dues include having opened for and played with acts like the Wu, Los Lobos, Widespread Panic and The Neville Brothers. Rasta-bard David Daniels (“Black Hippie Chronicles,” “I, Edgar Hoover”) sustains a maverick profile, smokin’ up a storm and kicking Rastafari-Americana ballistics. 7 p.m. $5. 201 E. 4th St., St. Paul. 651-298-0173. Dwight Hobbes - The Pulse

Guitar man and singer/songwriter Javier Trejo does vintage, dyed-in-the-wool San Francisco rock and is pretty damned good at it, ranging from sensual acoustic music to state-of-the-art ballsy fare, all of it enriched by a sinewy, Latin aesthetic.

For an easygoing, intimate vibe, get ahold of Trejo’s newly released self-titled record. Laid back and freeform, it hints at the old, lamentably short-lived group It’s A Beautiful Day, engaging with exotic nuance, compelling with understated power and generally affording this captivating talent a lush showcase.

“Brand New Day,” coming out of a Jose Feliciano-type bag, is one of those breezy tunes that insinuates its way into your listening pleasure. Here’s a scenario: You’re over at a friend’s crib, just hanging out, shooting the sugar honey iced tea, maybe enjoying a crooked cigarette with a nice taste on the side. Your host drops something on the stereo. It’s catchy at first, then, starts to really slip up on you. Soon, you pay less and less attention to whatever it was you both were talking about. Next thing, you’re asking, “Hey, who is that? Can I see the album cover?” Been there, done that? Good, ‘cause it’s one of three highlights on Javier Trejo that will arrest you faster than a cop. The other two are the insistent samba “Magic Tree” and the hypnotic “Skip To My Luke” (dedicated to his son).

The rest of the CD isn’t slouch material, either. Just like everybody else, reviewers have their favorites. “Dance of the Mountain Stream” is tailor-made for Deadhead freaks who firmly believe the best songs in life are those that occasionally revisit the hook (so you remember what song you’re listening to) and otherwise spiral out into a tasty, free-wheeling jam complete with changing time signatures. The contemplative “Not So Far Away” departs to Pink Floyd country, strange but accessible. In short, the album is no run-of-the-mill offering. Thanks in no small part to accompaniment by Chris Gray on traps and Rich Casey on bass with assists by Zach Lozier (trumpet) and John Wolfe, Jr. (piano) along with guests Jimmy Rodgers (bass), Stanley Kipper (drums) and Amanda Harmon and Javier’s little girl Sierra Arroyo Trejo (vocals).

Not so easygoing is Javier Trejo’s late-’90s work as frontman for and driving force behind St. Paul-based phenomenon The Beads (you can get their CD at his gigs). You’ve got Trejo on hellified electric, Matthew Stevens pumping fluid bass, Nick Dodd tight on drums and Mason Hozza finessing sweet keyboards with help from percussionist Chris Yoerks and Nate Stevens (rhythm guitar, harmonica). Choice selections: the bluesy, strutting “Let Your Mind” and “Song for Carlos,” an eerie, anthemic tribute to Carlos Santana. There’s also Live DUBsack, a power trio CD of Trejo, James Buckley (bass) and J.T. Bates (drums) playing instrumental Reggae-Dance Hall. And, for good measure, Javier Trejo is guitarist-second vocalist for powerhouse Afro-Cuban rockers The New Primitives (with whom he executes an ingenious take on The Temptations’ classic “The Way You Do The Things You Do”). Don’t seem there’s much this guy isn’t good at.

In Northeast Minneapolis, on a March night, yet another of his outlets, Trio (recently renamed Javier Trejo & the Terminal Two), is doing its weekly Tuesday at the Terminal Bar. The lineup is Trejo, Chris Gray and Rich Casey with Zach Lozier sitting in on trumpet. The audience is doing what publicist Nikki Nefstead calls “the trickle-in effect. They start out coming in two or three at a time and by the end of the night, the whole place is crowded.” It’s easy to see why Trejo doesn’t lose the early arrivals. You come in, get a load of this guy and understandably are inclined to hang around for more. “Skip to My Luke” as well as “Just to See Her” and “And in My Bourbon Down” off Javier Trejo, don’t lose a thing live. Added to which, he delivers a fine rendition of David Crosby’s “Traction in the Rain,” throwing down on inspired guitar in soulful voice (Trejo acknowledges The Guess Who’s Burton Cummings as an influence).

At the break, digging on some damned good hillbilly music blaring through the house speakers, I make my way to the end of the bar and catch a word with Trejo and Bill Mountain, the bouncer, a stocky, Native American fella of few words, a warm smile and gentle, wizened eyes that don’t miss a thing around him. Jess, the bartender, smiles like sunshine as she sets up a round. An expansive Trejo, remarkably unpretentious for a fella of his talent and reputation, gives me the 411 in amiable, rapid-fire fashion. Born in, it turns out, Monclova Coahuila, Mexico, he’s a self-described “first generation immigrant.” Discussing his music, he keys in on the Brazilian flavor of “Magic Tree” to expound, “I was way into, like, Antonio Carlos Jobim, the guy who wrote ‘Girl From Ipanema.’ When I heard that Stan Getz record [with Astrud Gilberto] where they were doing a bunch of [Jobim’s] songs, it blew my mind. I was like, ‘It’s beautiful.’ At the time, I was playing a lot of solo guitar.” Off into it, Trejo waxes animated, gesturing, detailing. “With bossa nova guitar, the bass is done with your thumb, the chords are done with your three middle fingers and your pinky does sort of the melody. So, it’s a great style, if you’re a solo artist.” He’s on a roll, pausing only to sip on some bottled water. “The reason why bossa nova even got started was because in Rio de Janeiro, there would be huge salsa bands. But, if you were a poor kid who could only afford an apartment … you couldn’t bring, like, 12 people over to practice. So, it was developed, this [minimal] style.”

That’s Javier Trejo. Skilled, knowledgeable, down to earth. Chris Gray says of working with Trejo, “It’s great. Demanding. A lot of things. Jav is really on top of his playing. He just has a command. The musicianship is apparent.” You can say that again. ||

Javier Trejo plays every Tuesday at the Terminal Bar. 409 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls. 612-623-4545. He also joins the New Primitives every Thursday at the Cabooze. 917 Cedar Ave., Mpls. 612-338-6425

-Dwight Hobbes
- The Pulse

“In the past I’ve affectionately (& deservedly) dubbed local guitarist singer Javier “the Carlos Santana of Minneapolis”, but really it goes way beyond that. He is moreso the “Javier Trejo” of our twin towns with his unique flair & lovable presence, which matches his big time talent & open ended accessibility. I’ve enjoyed all of Javier’s bands & projects over the years and so I was truly proud & pleased to see this one released. He told me personally that this was his best material to date & after listening I would agree.” - The Weekly Freak


Javier Trejo - Solo 2006 (Victorious Bull Records)

Javier Trejo - Holiday Sampler 2004

Javier Trejo - Recycler Sampler 2004

The Beads - "Ordinary Sunday People" 2003

Javier Trejo - Oregon Demo 1999

Beyond Appearances:

White Iron Band - "Take it off the Top" 2005
*Vocals ,Track #5 Mexican Jail

Kung Fu Hippies - "Subtitled" 2003
*Lap Steel, Track #10 Farm


Feeling a bit camera shy


Born in Monclova Cuahuila, Mexico and raised in Minnesota on St. Paul's "Westside", a multi-culturally diverse community, I think my music embodies what it is to be a Latino growing up in the Midwest.

Once singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Beads and now guitarist, songwriter and co-vocalist for New Primitives (three time Minnesota Music Academy award winners for "Best Reggae"), I have had the wonderful opportunity to open for and play with some of the United States' finest musicians including: The Neville Brothers, Widespread Panic, The Big Wu, Willie Waldman Project, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Los Lobos. Most recently I opened for Taj Mahal, and played with Trampled By Turtles this past New Year Eve.

I?ve held down Tuesdays at the Terminal Bar for nine years or so; I played Nyes Polonaise every Wednesday for two and a half years, and now play every Thursday at the Cabooze with New Primitives. Weekends often find me at one club or another, basically this music thing is all I do and I feel lucky to be making a living at it. My live performances flow effortlessly between: Bossa, Dub, Latin, Rock, Delta Steel Guitar Blues, Reggae, "Old School" Country and English and Spanish lyrics.

"Great guitar playing and a killer falsetto"*, combined with great songwriting, Javier's music can only be described as one thing, "Mexican Americana".