Civitas is a band based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their sound is a unique blend of their southwestern approach to rock, blues, Latin, Caribbean, and a bit of jazz. With driving rhythms the band takes you on a musical adventure that features acoustic and electric guitars [R.J. Perez], vocals [R.J. Perez, Mark Waltermire, Ben Jones], electric and acoustic bass [Justin Oldham], drums and percussion [Vance Van Donselaar], violin [Ben Jones], mandolin [Mark Waltermire] and harmonica [Ben Jones].
Blue Stone is their new release. It is an involving CD to listen to with lots of toe tapping music. It opens with the funky "Rainy Day." R.J. kicks it right up with a funky wah-wah based riff and Ben floats on top with violin. The lyrics comment on our treatment of our planet. The solo work has the feel of spontaneity of improvisation yet fits like a glove.
     In the unique "
Blisteringly Enlightening", you hear interplay between guitar, mandolin and violin with a strong underpinning by drums and bass that have a jazz feel, but derive influence from Latin and Caribbean sounds as well. It features a great solo by Ben Jones on violin.
Blue Stone" is full of energy--you will want to move some part of your body if not all parts when you listen to this rousing tune. The band is running at full tilt with great percussion and another great solo on violin followed by some funkified chicken picking by Mark and R.J.  I am having trouble typing since my extremities keep grooving on the beat--grin.
     Acoustically energized, "
Jen of Eve" features guitar, mandolin and violin with string bass and drums. The admiration of Eve by R.J.'s lyric "Some will say the clouds roll by when you smile" shines through in the song's composition. It is warm, bouncy, and interesting.
     Bassist, Justin Oldham gets to stretch his wings on "
Gilded Fleece" by taking one of the solos. This unique song about the way things are traditionally viewed asks us to take a look from outside at ourselves. A clever Police-like riff [reggae with added twist] sets the stage for twists and turns Civitas style. They break it down in the middle with a hot violin solo and great drums and riffing on mandolin. Do-n-do-da-do-n-do!  Nice!
     The jazzy salsa-served "
Squeeze" moves along at a foot tapping pace. Vocals suggest you "squeeze every drop." The last lines "nunca para cada gota" translates "never for each drop." One thing is for sure--you will find new rhythm and excitement in every note of this tune. It features everyone in the band just playing their hearts out.
Spoonfed" is a clever tune about one's ability to be original and go on their own instincts rather than be spoon-fed what to think, wear, or feel. The interplay between the stringed instruments with the driving

force of bass and drums is remarkable. Especially noteworthy is the bass work of Justin on this tune. He is everywhere on the neck of his bass in one fluid motion and yet driving the beat like a clock with the drums.
     Fuzz bass opens the funky "
Soul Sister" followed up with an Isaac Hayes inspired funk. Again, the convoluting style of Civitas evolves this into a unique triple riffed tune. R.J.'s lyrics are involving by themselves--added to the musical fun here--I can listen over and over.
     Blues inspired "
Go Home" drives hard with a distorted harmonica introduction by Ben. Civitas proves they can put their stamp on the blues, too! Vance's drums lay it all down on time! Solo work by Ben and R.J. take it all home.
     Last but not least, "
Ruidoso" explores the traditional sounds of the southwest Civitas style. This instrumental features hot Latin soloing and rhythm.
     I can't deliver enough words to really describe how much fun Civitas is to listen to. On my highest recommendation, please visit their web site and pick up a copy of "Blue Stone" for yourself. Civitas will get you up and moving! The more I listen, the more I like what I hear and feel. I can't wait to hear them live! ~ Steve Ekblad

take me back to music...