Acoustic Guitar Duo Advances to Finals of Santa Ana Star Search
February 16, 2011
Categories: Inside UNM
Duo to perform in SUB Atrium Feb. 16 from 12 to 1 p.m.
University of New Mexico student William Montgomery and DJ Armijo started playing together as an acoustic guitar duo nearly two years ago. Considering their success to date, that's a partnership that's likely going to pay dividends in the future. The acoustic guitar playing virtuoso recently advanced to the finals of the Santa Ana Star Search talent contest after a stunning and crowd-pleasing performance in a preliminary round on Feb. 5.
They pair met in high school at Cibola HS on Albuquerque's westside, and although the pair have known eachother for about four years, they only started collaborating musically over the past year and a half or so going back to the first Lobos Got Talent show in 2009 where they took second place.
"We did play a little together at that time, but we've only been playing together strictly as a guitar duo for about a year and a half," said Montgomery. "When we started, our goal was to comprise enough music to just start playing gigs. Playing anywhere at that time would've been nice to us, but we just kind of wanted to debut the music that we had come up with. Family parties were always fun."
Originally, their goal musically was to be original. They have played covers, but in playing those cover songs, they have always strove to put forth their own originality to each and every song.
"Yes, we do covers, and we enjoy doing covers, but even when were playing covers our goal was to present them in an original way," said Montgomery. "If we can't provide a fresh take on the material, we don't like to do the songs."
The duo has one CD out titled, "Never Satisfied." It's available online at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/armijomontgomery. After the Santa Ana Star Search contest concludes, they plan on recording a new CD of completely original material.
Montgomery said he's had several influences over the course of his playing career, especially from Spain as well as from a couple of well-known local names including Hector Pimentel, and Michael Chapdelaine, a UNM music professor. Montgomery has taken lessons from both and is currently a student of Chapdelaine's in the music department at UNM. Armijo notes influences including Ben Silva,Tomas Vigil and Hector Garcia.
"We take a great influence from the classical repertoire for guitar, but especially the Spanish repertoire for classical guitar. We love the warm melodies presented by classical composers such as Isaac Albeni, Emilio Pujol and Francisco Tarrega.
"When we do covers, we always make sure that there is a melody to sing to you. If you're familiar with the song we're covering, then the words are easily hummed along because we sing the vocal line with one of the guitars."
Although they've always taken great pride in playing covers, they want to be know for their original music. It's a concept that will always remain in their music. Playing and performing original music is much different that doing a cover says Montgomery.
"Our original music comes completely from us and is not just an interpretation of someone else's work. Our original music tends to be a lot more complex and deep than our covers," said Montgomery. "The freedom in our original work is what is exciting to us. There are no limits to what we can play and the ideas we can present musically with our instruments. Ultimately, we want to make the our listeners feel something. If I could explain this feeling with words, then it wouldn't be necessary to listen to our music. Music makes me feel a whole assortment of different emotions and I get motivated by that because I want to make people feel those emotions as well."
They impressed the judges and the voting public during their preliminary round a couple of weeks ago against eight other contestants. The song they performed, titled Zozobra, was presented with the idea of fire and New Mexican pride said Montgomery. That strong New Mexican pride, as well as the pride of being a student in UNM's Music Department, will get another chance to be on display after being one of three to advance to the finals where they will be one of nine to compete on March 12 where they hope to represent themselves in a similar fashion.
"We have a lot of people supporting us with our musical goals right now and that motivates us more than anything," said Montgomery. "We are getting more fans than just family and friends, which to us means that there is a demand for our music. Just the simple idea inspires us to keep going and doing what we are doing."
Worldwide, they have quite a following. YouTube has also been a great inspiration to the duo since they began posting videos about a year ago.
"The response has been encouraging as well as motivating," said Montgomery. "YouTube blows my mind. I believe it's a great way for anyone to spread their music. People have watched our videos in every country around the world except four. That idea really blows my mind and really humbles me."
Although they feel people around the world know more about their music than the cities they was born in and raised, and proud to be from, they hope to create more of that excitement locally in the near future.
"That's what really excites us the most about being involved in the Santa Ana Star Search talent contest," said Montgomery. "The opportunity to play our music live for the people that we live and grew up with."
Interested listeners can hear Armijo and Montgomery at: DJ and William.
NOTE: Faculty, staff and students can get a taste of Montgomery and Armijo on Wednesday, Feb. 16 when they play in the SUB Atrium from 12 to 1 p.m.