The Marana Cotton Festival will feature two distinct musical performers at the October 21 event.
Taking the stage at 6:00 p.m. will be the Marana Community Music Theater’s Community Choir. This choir consists of residents from around Marana ages 13 and up. He goal of the choir is to bring the arts to the community in a tangible and fun way. They will be performing several pieces to kick start our live music.
At 6:45 Blue Monsoon brings their version of modern country with rock influences that they dub “Nu-Country” to the Cotton Festival. While the band admits they are fans of pop influenced country music, they also come from a rock and heavy metal background and feels that gives them a unique take on country music.
The name Nu-Country comes from the Nu-Metal scene of the late 1990’s where bands added disparate styles like hip-hop, electronica, and pop and combined them with more traditional heavy metal music. In much the same way Blue Monsoon hope to take styles of music that does not typically get associated with country music and meld them into their sound. Lead vocalist Celeste cites current country artists adding DJ’s and drum machines to their sound as an inspiration for Blue Monsoon to play around with traditional country tropes.
Celeste grew up listening to punk and the Grunge bands of the early 90’s and that was the gateway to Nu Metal and Heavy Metal bands like Korn and Tool. She played in rock bands for years but was also influenced by family members who loved country music.
She DJ’s and hosted a karaoke night at the now defunct Toby Keith’s All-American Grill and was encouraged to start playing country music by those who heard her sing. In 2013 she formed Blue Monsoon.
Although the music is country, their influences are all over the musical map. While traditional country artists like George Strait, Alan Jackson, Marty Robbins and Garth Brooks are cited, so are hard rockers like Ronnie James Dio, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. The band posted a video of the band covering pop/punk band the Offspring’s “Gone Away”, transforming the epic rocker into a slow, almost sultry country jam.
“Blue Monsoon performs the music that everyone will want to dance to,” said the band’s guitarist Jason Curtis.
Celeste also cites a number of female artists as inspirations including Sarah Evans, Deanna Carter, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and Stevie Nicks. One of her goals with the band is to highlight more of the female voices that she feels are under-represented in contemporary country music.
The band plays a set of mostly modern country hits though they like to bill themselves as a dynamic high energy band that fuses rock into pop country hits” and like to create new songs out of old favorites, fusing a variety of genres into country tinged hits. Celeste admits that she is a big fan of the modern, slick sounding production values of new country music, even though she says that band may “not be for purists” and reiterated that most of the band “did not grow up on country.”
The band is thrilled to be making their return to Marana. They played a one of the Town’s Free Music In Marana concerts and the Star Spangled Spectacular and love taking their music to a new audience.
“We absolutely love seeing the kids and adults interacting and dancing,” said Curtis.
Celeste added that playing in front of an all ages audience is a nice change. She said some bar crowds are great, but others see the band as background music to the evening’s activities. All ages show also bring out younger fans of modern country music who know the words and will often sing along.
“When they sing along with me I can pretend I almost wrote the song,” Celeste explained. “I get a great feeling that the band and the audience are on the same page.”
Blue Monsoon will take the stage at 6:45 and play several sets until the event ends at 9 p.m.
The Marana Cotton Festival is on Saturday, October 21 from 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Marana Heritage River Park (12375 North Heritage Park Drive).