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Classical Drinking ~ with Erik Unsworth on bass, Dena Kay Jones on piano, and Jim Shearer on tuba

February 8, 2020 7:30 pm
February 8, 2020 9:30 pm
1740 Calle De Mercado Suites B & D, Las Cruces NM 88005   View map


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February 8 from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Classical Drinking with Erik Unsworth on string bass, Dena Kay Jones on piano, and special guest Jim Shearer on tuba.    Cost:  $15 at the door or in advance at or at DAAC office 575-523-6403.

This is the fourth of a new live music series that will feature regional musicians in a relaxed atmosphere.

Update as of 2/6/20:    Our sincere apologies, but Dry Point Distillers will not be able to offer a cash bar with cocktails as was previously advertised.  However, complimentary beverages will be available.  

String bass virtuoso Erik Unsworth will be joined by pianist Dena Key Jones and special guest Jim Shearer, tuba. The first half of the concert will include solo double bass works with piano accompaniment by the late romantic/post romantic Russian composer Reinhold Glière and contemporary Canadian/American composer James Grant. In addition, Unsworth and Jones will be joined by tubist Jim Shearer to perform the rarely heard “Suite for String Bass, Tuba, and Piano” by noted composer Alec Wilder. A regular collaborator with popular musicians including Frank Sinatra, Eileen Farrell, and Marian McPartland, Wilder is perhaps best known for his jazz and cabaret compositions, including “Moon And Sand,” “I’ll Be Around, “ and “It’s So Peaceful in the Country.” Wilder, however, also lived a semi-secret life as an iconoclastic classical composer, boldly blending jazz and classical styles and writing almost exclusively for close friends during his lifetime. The “Suite for String Bass, Tuba, and Piano” was written for bassist Garry Carr and tubist Harvey Phillips. It was performed at Carnegie Hall in the mid-1970s and was not formally published for many years. Though very accessible in terms of being an “audience friendly” piece, the work is rarely performed due to the extreme demands placed on each of the instrumental collaborators.

In addition, the second half of the concert will feature several area jazz musicians who will join Mr. Unsworth in the performance of some “third stream” crossover works that blend classical and jazz elements, all written by the great bassist and composer Charles Mingus and that have been arranged specifically for this concert by Mr. Unsworth.

Erik Unsworth is a native of Northern New York State and a graduate of Indiana University. He joined the music faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso as Professor of String Bass, Electric Bass, Jazz and Commercial Music studies in 2003. Mr. Unsworth has been featured in recent El Paso/Las Cruces area performances with jazz greats such as Ernie Watts, Bobby Shew, Karrin Allyson, Allan Vache, Sean Jones, Brad Leali, Wycliffe Gordon, Houston Person, Dave Pietro, Jackie Ryan, Harry Allen, Maciej Fortuna, Dave Stryker, Ray Vega, Dan Barrett, Randy Sanke, Chuck Redd, Roseanna Vitro, Al Hermann, and Chip McNeill, among many others.   He has also been recently featured as a soloist with the U.T.E.P Symphony Orchestra, performing Serge Koussevitsky’s Concerto for Double Bass, and in a variety of chamber music settings with the El Paso Pro Musica.​ Mr. Unsworth can be heard on these new recordings:  New Impressions Trio (Blue Heron records), with Curt Warren and Ricky Malichi;  Koan (Fortuna music), with Chris Reyman, Herb Robertson, Mack Goldsbury, and Lou Grassi;  Different Lives Unite ( with Dan DeChellis, Jared Sims, and Zach Martin;  and Duke’s Voice (Fortuna music), featuring Allan Kaplan and Mack Goldsbury.


Dena Kay Jones has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and in Spain, Italy, Mexico and Canada. She is also a frequent performer of solo and chamber music at various venues within the El Paso, Texas vicinity. In addition to maintaining a widely varied repertoire from the standard piano literature, Ms. Jones has focused her energies in performance and research of the Spanish piano repertoire. In particular, her interest in this music has led her to focus on lesser-known Spanish piano works written from 1900-1950. She is sought out for her work, opinions and interpretations of this particular canon of piano music. Dr. Jones also is a member of the Great American Trio, which performs music from the Americas written for horn, tuba and piano.  She joined the music faculty of the University of Texas at El Paso in 2002, where she is professor of applied piano, chamber music and class piano.  She also is a faculty member at the Orfeo Summer Music Festival, held annually in Vipiteno/Sterzing, Italy.  ​

With this new Classical Drinking music series, Artistic Director Jim Shearer


aims to “de-mystify” classical music by offering audience-friendly selections in a relaxed environment.  Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the door or in advance on-line. A cash bar will be offered by Dry Point Distillers with yummy cocktails and non-alcoholic options.  Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the musicians throughout the evening.

Classical Drinking music events that will take place on the Second Saturday of the month from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.  Classical Drinking will follow the monthly  Second Saturday 10-10 Arts Hop gallery opening from 4-7 p.m. at the DAAC Arts & Cultural Center.

The full 2019-2020 series schedule is as follows:

Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019       La Catrina String Quartet with special guest Jim Shearer

Saturday, October 12            Marcos Cavalcante, classical guitar, Hyerim Mapp cello, and Madelyn Moore on Clarinet

Saturday, November 9           Dena Kay Jones, solo piano


No events in December or January


Saturday, Feb, 8, 2020            Erik Unsworth, Double Bass, Dena Kay Jones on piano

Saturday, March 14               Sarah Daughtrey, vocals with Dena Kay Jones on piano

Saturday, April 11                 Piano Trio with Dena Kay Jones, Jim Shearer on tuba, and Celeste Shearer on French horn