If you haven’t yet heard of a group named Revolver, you will soon. The group, comprised of four young men from the Crystal, New Mexico area, released their first CD Friday, October 27th in Window Rock. They are Hondo Baldwin Louis, Aanor Baldwin Lewis, Richard “Ric” Davis, Jr. and Aaron Francisco. To celebrate the occasion, the band threw a live performance and party for family, friends and fans.
“You are a very special group, because you are made up of our family and friends,” Hondo Louis teased from the microphone. “It’s hard to be famous around your family, because you turn around and are asked to wash the dishes or take out the garbage.”
Hondo, lead vocalist, plays rhythm guitar and authors much of the group’s music. With his all-American clean-cut good looks, his co-workers in Window Rock might be surprised to see Hondo out of his dress clothes, out on the stage. But after a song or two, none would question his right to be there.
Ric is a genius on lead guitar; his hands dance like Astaire and Rogers across the strings. He, like the other members of the band, is modest, and awed by the studio recordings of their music. “When I first started up with these guys, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve waited a long time to make a CD; to get out there and have some fun.”
The younger Baldwin Louis is an amazing drummer. Absolutely powerful one moment, delicate the next, this young man is a natural. His older brother Hondo spoke of how Aanor became the drummer for the group. “One day we ran out of a drummer, and we started playing a song. Aanor got up there and started playing and he threw in all the licks!”
“Drumming was really nice to watch,” Aanor explained. “I would watch the previous drummer.” And so when the group needed a drummer, Aanor decided to give it a shot. “I thought, why not! I got behind that drum and played. I went from watching to playing. I really surprised my brothers!”
Aaron is probably the most surprised with his success as a musician. “I was recruited a little over a year ago. I knew nothing about a guitar. I guess they recruited me because I pretty much had nothing to do; I was just a roadie,” Aaron laughed. “I never thought I’d be in a band, I never dreamed I’d be playing a guitar and singing at the same time.” He too is a natural, his base provides a strong foundation for Revolver’s music.
Ray Baldwin Louis, a.k.a. Razor Saltboy, always a trickster and loving father, was on hand to expose Revolver’s secret identities, so to speak. “I’ve made no promises to keep any secrets,” he kidded the young men. “I used to listen to Ric; he’d come out of his trailer, plug in his amplifier and wake up the dead with heavy metal music echoing off the Chuska Mountains.”
Ric agreed. “Yeah, I’d watch the chipmunks roll off the trees.”
Louis is also very proud to be a role model for the band. Perhaps Aanor provides the best example. “Aanor told me that he remembers when he was in his mommy’s tummy, he could hear me singing! Aanor amazes me all the time.”
This love is returned. During a pause between songs, Louis whispered at length to son Hondo. As his father turned to leave the stage, Hondo said, “I love you too.” The crowd erupted in appreciative laughter.
See Revolver, page 2
Revolver has had successful exposure since their humble beginnings outside the Crystal Chapter House, but things were really different at Pineland Records. “My version of the studio was putting a cassette player here, and then playing along with it,” Ric laughed. “In the studio you were in these little booths and you had people talking to you through the window.” He was astounded at the results of a professional recording studio. “They made us sound really good! I would listen to a solo, thinking wow, did I really do that?”
The band left for Utah, where they recorded the music for their CD, “Resolve,” the morning after Aaron’s high school graduation. “The guys drove up to the house, honking the horn. I was sleeping in a chair. I threw some things into a bag and tried to stay awake for the whole experience.” He also managed to lose his clothes on the journey — but that’s a story for him to tell.
Revolver’s songs are stories from the reservation where the young men grew up. Most of the songs are written by Hondo, some with his brother Kumen, and one is his father’s song. “On her own” was born of a chance meeting with an old classmate, and speaks of the difficulties of single parenthood. “It’s about women who get stuck, and God bless them and their little ones. These ladies have to forget their dreams.”
Relationships between family members and potential lovers are also poetically described. One such song described by Hondo as a story about who dumps who first and the crazy things that go through a man’s head. Another is dedicated to his father and tells the story of a friendship struck far from home in a school situation. “It’s a song about a really nice person,” Hondo explained. “Yes, she is a real person. One day maybe we’ll walk up to her door and sing it to her.”
And as Revolver performs the song, Ric’s vibrato notes paint a nostalgic background for Hondo’s voice which actually takes on the haunting quality of the boy next door remembering an old love.
Then there is the story of a lovely but not-so-nice woman who threw a friend’s guitar out a window and framed him for domestic violence by beating herself up. “It’s our restraining order song,” Hondo kidded .
Love for family also comes through in a song for Joy, Aanor and Hondo’s sister, and another which apologizes to family members for not always being the nicest or most cheerful person. “Even when we’re mad at each other, we’ll keep coming around. We don’t always say or do the right things but we will be there for each other,” Hondo explained.
In live performances, Revolver includes in their repertoire songs which are considered oldies these days, but they do it in a manner which makes them theirs. “Why would we play old songs? These are songs my parents used to listen to — Emmy Lou Harris, Ricky Nelson, Tommy James and the Shondells, the Beatles.”
Hondo says that he often asks listeners how one would typify the band and no one seems to have come up with an answer to that question. Though the young men are Navajo, their music isn’t specifically Native American. Labels can be restrictive, and Hondo doesn’t want Revolver to be limited. Their music will appeal to a wide variety of listeners.
Hondo also asked this reporter how she would describe their music — and two words come to mind.
Copies of “Resolve” can be obtained at Cool Runnings in Window Rock, or ordered through Hondo Louis, P.O. Box 255, Navajo, NM 87328.