Counter Play Show Review

By Tim Schumann

It’s no mystery that Covid has affected us all in one way or another, our music scene here in El Paso, Texas as well across the country has really taken a hit due to the virus, National touring acts have ceased to exist since March, I guess as it should be.

Restaurants and Bars have closed, reopened and closed again, it’s been frustrating at best, but finally our premiere concert venue has reopened, The Rockhouse Bar and Grill, truth be told, we couldn’t be happier, a soft opening on the 3rd of September and ever since then, we’ve had locals play on Friday and Saturday nights.

On 18 September, we were in attendance for dinner and some live music and I must say. I’m glad we went, on that evening’s card was David Goldman and Holst, Raymon Arreola and Counter Play.

David Goldman and Holst, I had never heard of them, Ray, I’ve known him for years and Counter Play, yes, this would have been my 3rd time seeing them as well as photographing them.

Opening the show was David Goldman and Holst, to my surprise, it was a two piece, Chris Holst on drums and David on Violin. It was one of those acts that at some point I lowered the camera to just watch the show, David was all over the stage making that violin scream and talk to you, it reminded me of seeing Steve Vai, no vocals, just a instrument doing all the talking or singing to you, if you will, David Goldman is a master at his craft, definitely a first chair violinist.

Next on deck is Raymon Arreola, now as stated, I’ve known Ray for a minute, unfortunately he wasn’t available for an in depth interview, I’ll get him next time, so let me tell you a little about Ray, I believe the first time I photographed him was back in late 14 when his band The Third Edge opened for Jake E Lee’s, at the time new band called Red Dragon Cartel at a little bar called The Network in downtown El Paso, what a night that was, I mean who doesn’t want to be hanging out with Jake E Lee, right?

Ray is somewhat of a public figure here in the Borderland, he’s also a Radio personality on our local Rock station, KLAQ, that combined with his many public appearances as well as performing live, needless to say, he could run for mayor and possibly win.

The past couple of times I’ve seen Ray, he’s been a solo act, simply calling himself Arreola, but before that his band The Third Edge which was a 3 piece, I had shot and seen many times in different venues throughout El Paso.

Being a solo act, he plays guitar and sings to a drum and bass track nowadays, rest assured, he puts on a quality set, skilled at the guitar and solid vocals and not to mention, writes all his own music. At some point, I would love to showcase Ray in an article, please stay tuned, that’s definitely going to happen, should prove to be interesting, Ray has stories.

Our headliner for the evening, and truth be told is the reason we were there was another 3 piece local band by the name of Counter Play.

I did have the opportunity to speak to Angel Holguin via the phone for this interview and I must say, a very polite young man. Before I get to the fun facts, let me say this makes the third time I’ve photographed Counter Play, the first time was 21 December 19, then 15 August and now on 18 September, make no mistake, these young men have caught my eye during these past four weeks.

Counter Play has been in existence for close to four years now, the line up is as follows, Angel Holguin on Guitar, Mark Reyes on percussion and Jerry Reyes on Bass, no relation.

On the 15 August show, which was a Shameless Entertainment production, during the sound check, I heard some profound Pearl Jam licks, my first words to Angel was Are you a Stone Gossard or Mike McCready kind of guy? Of course his answer was Mike McCready, I couldn’t think of a better way to have broken the ice.

With that said, influences are Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana, sounds like a Seattle thing to me and when asked who writes the music, Angel replied, All three of us do. Oh, did I mention, all original, no covers.

All three went to Montwood High School , Mark and Jerry were in the Marching Band together, but Jerry just came on board one year ago, I believe he’s the perfect fit of being the backbone of this band, no nonsense kind of guy, reminds me of Bill Wyman with his stage presence intertwined with the insane drumming of Mark, he too reminds me of a classic drummer by the name of Keith Moon or Carl Palmer, you see it’s things like this is what catches my eye, it comes with going to shows for the past 48 years, I recognize raw talent and Counter Play reeks of it.

Which brings me to our front man, Angel Holguin, a real showman on stage, a centerpiece of entertainment, fun to watch, hard to take your eyes off, in my opinion, this is what makes a real front man, he’s the reason we spend our money on the ticket, we want to be entertained, we want to walk out of the venue thinking that was was nothing left to give, you want to feel moved, touched like you got every pennies worth of the price of that ticket. Angel is only 21, but could very well be your next Peter Wolf, Matt Shultz or Chester Bennington, I truly believe it’s in his blood to want to be an entertainer, only time will tell.

As in for the future of the band, there is some studio time booked, should be a 5 song EP due out within the month as well as if the creek don’t rise, a Texas Tour is in the works, hitting all the major cities and hopefully building a fan base in each one of those cities and of course a West Coast tour after that.

All in all, what a great night at the Rockhouse, everything from the food to the music hitting on all eight cylinders, hopefully we can get back to business as usual in 2021, but until then……….

Full Counter Play gallery below:

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