‘Whole’ lot of rock

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The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Aristotle’s quote rings true for a classic rock band from Belen that bonded together after all but one of its members met while recovering from substance abuse.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Will Arisman, band leader of “Salvaged,” plays guitar at the Viva New Mexico Chile Festival in Los Lunas on Saturday.

The band, “Salvaged,” got its name from members that have made each other stronger through friendship and music. The band recently played at the Viva New Mexico Chile Festival and Summerfest in Los Lunas.

“We’ve been in the gutter, like in the junk yard,” said Paul Baca, a member of the band. “Now, we are back out of it.”

The five-member group plays songs from Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” to “Feel Like Making Love” by Bad Company. The local group, who all have day jobs, transform into a rock band once they hit the stage.

At the Viva New Mexico Chile Festival, the band played classics, and members drew energy from a small crowd situated on bales of hay about 15 yards away from the stage.

Robert Noblin, a local funeral director, sported round sunglasses that Elton John would surely be proud of for the band’s cover song of “Bennie and the Jets.”

Other cover songs the band plays include Eagles classics like “Hotel California,” and “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: “Salvaged” member Robert Noblin rocks the Elton John glasses while practicing “Bennie and the Jets” at the Viva New Mexico Chile Festival in Los Lunas.

Band leader Will Arisman said the group tries to play to their strengths rather than attempt songs that they most likely wouldn’t be successful with.

“None of us can sing like Robert Plant, so we don’t try and do Led Zeppelin,” Arisman said. “As much as we all love Journey, we don’t have that vocal range. We need to find (songs) that suit our style.”

Arisman, a guitarist who played in Buddy Guy’s house band in Chicago, said he and his band mates make each other better by associating and practicing with each other.

“Both from a personal level and a musical level ― the sum of what we do is so much better than anything we could do by ourselves,” Arisman said.

Arisman said what the group lacks in experience it makes up in a willingness to learn.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Paul Baca of Belen plays a jam at the Viva New Mexico Chile Festival in Los Lunas on Saturday. Baca is a vocalist and guitarist for the group, “Salvaged.”

For example, Marty Callahan, the group’s drummer, said the band needed to learn an Elton John tune after Noblin, a longtime piano player in neighborhood churches, joined the group.

The band, who has performed three times together, is learning to improvise when something goes wrong.

At the festival, vocalist Ryan Pemble’s microphone went out and guitarist Paul Baca had to sing vocals until Pemble was able to get over to a working mic.

Baca said another time, Callahan’s drum set malfunctioned.

The group had to change songs mid-performance to allow him to fix his drums for the next song.

Members of the group like what they do.

“Music, I think, is the ultimate outlet for musicians,” Noblin said. “No matter how your day has been or your week has been, you pick up a guitar or get behind a drum set ― that all disappears. It’s a hobby, but it’s also a passion.”

Baca, who played in different bands in the 1990s and 2000s, said he looks forward to being around his band mates.

He said they continue to help each other curb their addiction.

He said “Salvaged” is the best sounding band that he has ever been a part of.

He’s excited to go to practice since there is not an element of alcohol to the group, he said.

Baca said in the past he has seen musicians go to other band practices more to get drunk than go to band practice, he said.

Members of the group have been around music for decades and the band says they’d like to add to their set list ― to have enough music to play casinos in the area, and to get other gigs.

Right now, the band has enough material to play for about two hours.

Arisman said the group would like to play in front of other audiences and learn songs from well-known artists.

The band likes to be in front of a live crowd.

“The crowd makes it easier,” Arisman said. “They react to what you are playing and in return you feed off of that energy.

“It’s like a circle that builds and builds. We need to find sounds that fit our voices.”

The band leader said the group, which practices twice a month, would like to practice on a more regular schedule to expand its set-list.

Members of the group say they look forward to coming together every month.

Arisman said they don’t plan on breaking up anytime soon.

“We do this for the love of the music and because we like to play together.”


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.