Mainstays on the Santa Fe music scene since the 1980s, Busy McCarroll and Baird Banner have been playing together in various bands for decades.
Their latest musical venture is Busy y Los Big Deals. The band plays music that has been described as ‘“trippy, edgy, cinematic Southwestern jazz/pop/funk.” It features McCarroll on vocals and rhythm guitar with Banner on drums, Howard Cloud on bass, Kevin Zoenig on keyboards and Kirk Kadish on keyboards and accordion.
“I have eclectic taste in music,” explains McCarroll, an award-winning artist who easily moves from folk to rhythm & blues to southern rock.
McCarroll sings tunes by a variety of artists (Joni Mitchell is among her favorites) as well as many of her own original songs.
She’s performed in bands with musicians including Bruce Dunlap, Tony Gilkyson and Lee Ving and opened shows for Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal, Freddie Fender, Juan Gabriel and Richie Havens.
McCarroll wanted to become a country/western star in the late 1970s. She first came to Santa Fe in 1978 during a trip that started in California and was meant to end in Nashville. She stopped along the way to visit fellow musician Sid Hausman, who owned a house in northern New Mexico and had played in a band with McCarroll in California.
The visit took place in May during a freak snowstorm. “While our truck was stuck in Tesuque, I started meeting people in the area,” she recalls. “I met Baird within the first two days I was in town.”
McCarroll enjoyed the people she met in Santa Fe so much that she abandoned her plan to head for Nashville. Although she and Banner started playing in bands together and felt a connection with each other, both were involved with other people. They eventually got together and married in the early 1980s. Their daughter, Alana, was born in 1984.
Crow’s Feet was McCarroll’s main band during the 1980s. Banner was in high demand as a drummer and played with local musicians as well as internationally-known stars including Peter Rowan. He also was very busy operating Kludgit Sound, the recording studio he founded in the village of Cerrillos in the late 1970s. Many musicians have traveled, and continue to travel, to New Mexico to record their albums with Banner.
The 1980s were good to local musicians, and McCarroll and Banner took advantage of the opportunities. Although the Santa Fe music scene has gone through many ups and downs in the past 30+ years, McCarroll and Banner have continued to play music through its changes and challenges.
When Banner isn’t recording at Kudgit Sound, he’s playing with local musicians and installing recording studios around the Southwest.
McCarroll heads up Busy y Los Deals and founded the trio The Modern Beatniks. She also finds satisfaction in offering a singing/songwriting class at Turquoise Trail Charter Elementary School and private vocal lessons.
One of the couple’s current projects together is recording a new album at Kludgit Sound that features Busy y Los Big Deals. It will be the first recording starring McCarroll since 2004.
Be sure to check out Busy y Los Big Deals’ upcoming gigs on February 2 at the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid and February 16 at Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe.