El Paso Music Scene

Michael Barrett of Dezert Demonz Dragway

The Dezert Demonz Dragway, which had two musical events last year, is looking to add a lot more live music this year. We talked to Michael Barrett via phone, at home in San Antonio (Hey, we call thousands of miles to support live music in El Paso!). Michael is known to some in El Paso for being in a couple of bands here "many years ago." He was in a cover band called "Blues Cannon", which played in the Barmuda Triangle and other East Side bars. He also played in Bleeding Sky, an original band that played in some long-defunct place on Texas St., before moving to Austin.

EPMS: Tell us about the shows you did last year at Desert Demonz Dragway:

Michael Barrett: We did two shows last year: My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult (part of United Tour), including Bile, Pig Face, and Zeromancer. The second show was Blood Brothers with Mile Marker. I liked Mile Marker.

EPMS: What is different this year?

Michael Barrett: Last year we put on two shows, but we didn't even have a stage. We stuck together trailers, and the bands played on those. This year, we have a pavilion, the stage is covered. We thought about calling it an amphitheater, but the stands aren't covered. This year we are actively looking to book shows. Last year, Hero Radio brought everything. We didn't have any local bands last year.

EPMS: Describe the pavilion:

Michael Barrett: The stage is covered. There is a backstage area. It faces the racetrack, and is 280 feet away from it. if you're looking at the band, you're looking away from track.

EPMS: How many times do you expect to have live music this year?

Michael Barrett: We already have four shootouts scheduled, and we want to have music for them. We want to book as many bands as we can.

EPMS: You don't sell beer?

Michael Barrett: We will sell beer at concerts. We don't push it, but people can bring their own. A lady comes with a concession trailer. She has no affiliation with us... she has sodas, hamburgers, etc.

Would-be (and professional) entertainment moguls will be interested in Friday Night Blowouts, which lets anybody that can come up with $1000 of advertising, plus (almost) any kind of show, such as "a touring band, battle of the bands, comedians, wrestling, hot dog eating competition, whatever," a chance to put on a show and share in the box office. Check the link above for details.

EPMS: What kinds of people would the Friday Night Blowout appeal to?

Michael Barrett: Booking agents, racing clubs. We want to add music, general entertainment, make it more of a social event, like a gathering point. It's a nice place to hang out with friends. Even with large events we like to hold prices down.

EPMS: Hot-dog eating contests? Let me know when you have one of these, my son wants to enter one.

Michael Barrett: (lol) OK.

The Desert Horizon Pavilion is holding a contest to design a logo for the Pavilion. The winner gets two season passes to all public events at the Dragway.

EPMS: You have a contest to design a logo for Desert Horizon Pavilion. When does the contest end?

Michael Barrett: When I pick a winner.

EPMS: From how far away do the people that race come?

Michael Barrett: We get a lot from southern New Mexico. We have people come from Denver, San Jose, CA. They hear about it from friends.

EPMS: How long has the race track been operating in El Paso?

Michael Barrett: 3 years

EPMS: Do you run any other tracks?

Michael Barrett: No. We're out to have a good time, doing Head's Up racing. We use the airport runway as our drag strip.

EPMS: An operating airport?

Michael Barrett: Yeah, Horizon airport. They close that half of the runway at night.

EPMS note: At least if your car gets airborne, they have air traffic control so they can find you.

Michael Barrett: You pick your competitors. Your car must be street-legal.

EPMS: So I could come down and race the guy down the block?

Michael Barrett: yeah.

EPMS: How fast does your family car go 0-60?

Michael Barrett: I have no idea. I'm sure I'd hear about it from everybody if I raced (lol).

EPMS: What is the cost of admission?

Michael Barrett: $4 for spectators, $7 for racers, and you can race all night. You have to be 17, have a drivers license.

EPMS: What kinds of cars are people bringing?

Michael Barrett: From California, many have souped-up cars. Mustangs. A lot of euro cars. We have people up to 50 or 60 years old bringing out their classic 60s Chevelles. There is a wide range. A lot of people work hard on their cars.

EPMS: Do people win anything at these events?

Michael Barrett: We give out trophies and prizes only on special events. On Fridays, we issue time slips, so you can prove how fast you went. On Sundays, we don't even do that. It's mostly about pride, about being able to say how fast you went.

EPMS: Do you have real restrooms?

Michael Barrett: No, we have port-a-potties

EPMS note: Oh, boy.

EPMS: How long do these events last?

Michael Barrett: A racing event lasts 4 hrs, from 8 PM to 12.

EPMS: Thanks a lot. Good luck with the track, and the shows.

Michael Barrett: Thanks for your time and your great website. We look forward to hearing from you and hope to get a chance to see you Friday and Sunday nights and the drags.

- Charles Hurley