Robert Gomez has been active in Denton music for years and in many different styles from the Latin Pimps, to Ormonde, to his solo work. He's now getting active in Denton in a different way. Gomez sat down with me at the Green House to discuss his current projects and passions, and to tell me more about Cuban music than I ever thought to ask.
MyDentonMusic: What have you been working on lately?
Robert Gomez: I've been working on songs for the next record which is based on a work of Robert Owen Butler. It's a book of poetry called "Severance", and they're all poems about decapitation, 240 words each. I'm thinking about 10 or 11 of them. I've got a couple of them done now. One is about Charles H. Stewart, a farmer beheaded by his two teenage daughters in Texas around the turn of the century. The other one is about a chicken beheaded for dinner, written in about 1948. Those are the two I've done so far.
MDM: Robert Owen Butler?
RG: Yeah, he won a pulitzer prize for a work of fiction, but this is a work of poetry. So, the next record is sort of a concept record...
MDM: And that'll be a formal Robert Gomez record, not a side project or anything since you're not writing the lyrics...
RG: Yeah. There's a demo of one of the songs on MySpace. I performed one of them at a loft show in Dallas recently...They're long, you know. They're all 240 words with no real verse or chorus, they're just this thing that starts and finishes. I don't know if anyone will like it (laughs). It's not poppy at all. Well, the chicken one is poppier, but the other one is not. But people [at the loft show] were buying my records and asking if that last song was on there.
MDM: But, that's a good sign...
RG: Well, not really, because what about the other 8 songs I played!
MDM: (laughs) You've also just finished a residency at Dan's Silverleaf with Mi Son, Mi Son, Mi Son?
RG: Yeah, you know, it's just something fun. Not that we don't take the music seriously, but it's basically a repertory ensemble. We're playing Cuban music from the 1920's-1940's pretty much the way it was done.
MDM: Who's idea was it to start that?
RG: Well, that was the first thing I did in Denton. I had a Mambo band, Rob G and the Latin Pimps.
MDM: But that was a lot more than a small ensemble playing on Monday nights...
RG: Oh yeah, it was way different. It was bigger, and it was Mambo...This is Son, which is a precursor to Mambo. But, most of the Mi Son, Mi Son, Mi Son guys were in that band. And then later, I wanted to do something more traditional, so I started another Cuban band called Norte de Habana and that's when I first started playing the Cuban guitar, the Tres, so that added to the traditional sound. But we weren't playing Son just yet, it was a mix. Then, eventually, I wanted to do this. And, I have another one, called Groupo Changui de Denton that's just basically Changui. But now, we do the Changui stuff with the Son songs. Changui is a precursor to Son. That's where the Tres, that guitar, appeared and really has the most to say as far as style. Because that's all there is; everything else is percussion.
MDM: Speaking of your side projects, a couple of months ago, you performed at Dan's Silverleaf with Anne-Lynne Williams [of Lotte Kestner and Trespassers William] as Ormonde. What's the status of that project?
RG: Yeah, we're waiting to hear back from labels. People are listening to it, but nothing definite yet. We're just shopping it.
MDM: Alright, so back on the homefront. You're about to be appointed to the Denton Historic Landmark Commission?
RG: Yeah, I was supposed to be appointed today, but I wasn't able to make it out...(laughs)
MDM: (laughs) What brought you to be a part of that and to want a seat on the commission?
RG: Well, I had a friend who knew about the opening on the commission and he suggested I join up. I thought it would be a great idea because I love the history of Denton. I live in an old home myself in an old Denton neighborhood, so anything I can do to help preserve that Denton aesthetic I really love, I want to help out. So I put my name in to be nominated, so the city council nominated me. It's an honor, really.
MDM: Is this your first time to get involved at that level?
RG: Yeah, that's usually how it starts. Then, run for President. (laughs) That's the progression.
MDM: Gotta be open for what's next, right?
RG: Yeah, maybe city planner. I've got some great ideas...involving bicycles. (laughs) But the commission is good way to get involved with what's going on in the city because it's not an elected position, it's appointed. I think you can do a lot and help the city council weed through all the stuff they have to get through. And it's all people from the community that are making these decisions.