West Texas Talk


West Texas Talk features interviews with community members discussing issues that affect our region, along with upcoming local programs and events. You’ll hear from local and visiting, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, and other interesting personalities.

The program is broadcast on 91.3 FM each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM. We welcome your comments and your suggestions for interview guests at info@kxwt.org


Recently on West Texas Talk:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018:
Artist and Composer Tarek Atoui

On this episode, we speak to artist and composer Tarek Atoui and curator Jennifer Burris. Marfa Live Arts, in collaboration with Fieldwork Marfa, will showcase his “examination of sound, place, and the social practice of improvisation across the varied landscapes of Marfa” during Marfa Sounding. This will be the third and final year of this project.

Atoui discusses his background, influences and practice of creating instruments and spaces which question the definition of listening. The artist insists that his improvisational and collaborative performances are meant to be experienced in-person. Atoui’s performances are something that “not only involves the ears as a way of listening, but also involves the eyes, the body, the sense of touch. It’s a very experiential way of listening to a concert of musical performance.”

The entire schedule for site-specific musical performances during Marfa Sounding can be found here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018:
Exploring the Big Bend with Ben English

On this episode, Diana Nguyen speaks to Ben English. He’s an eighth generation Texan who moved to the Big Bend when he was two years old. At one point, his grandparents ran the the old Lajitas Trading Post, while he worked and lived on ranches. He went on to become a DPS trooper and is now retired. He finally ended up back in the region a few years ago.

They discuss English’s childhood and his first book, “Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend,” which was published last year by TCU Press.

Thursday, May 10, 2018:
Literary Criticism, Earthquakes, and Walking with Lannan Resident David Ulin

On this episode, Rachel Monroe speaks to writer David Ulin about how his experiences in New York and Los Angeles influenced his writing. They discuss two of his non-fiction works, The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith, and Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles.

The writer spent several years at the LA Times as a book editor and critic. He is currently assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.  A second edition of his book, The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time, will be published September 4, 2018 with a new introduction and afterword.

Ulin will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, May 13 at 6 pm.

Thursday, May 3, 2018:
Music and Community in Terlingua

On this episode, William “Chase” Peeler talks about his research on music and its vital role in community and identity building in Terlingua. Peeler received his doctorate in ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado Boulder. His dissertation is called “On the Porch: Music and Community in Terlingua, Texas.” He is currently working on turning his research into a book.

Peeler discusses the uniqueness of the inclusive participatory music scene in the town. “You have people who have only been playing their instruments for a matter of weeks playing right along side people who have been playing for decades,” he says. “That’s a really special thing that doesn’t happen often enough, but it should.”

Peeler also discusses some of the changes residents are experiencing in south Brewster County.

Thursday, Apr 26, 2018:
Ballroom Marfa’s Stone Circle and Blackwell School Alliance’s Marfa Storybook Mural


On this episode, Diana Nguyen speaks to two artists with work debuting this weekend in Marfa.

First, internationally acclaimed artist Haroon Mirza joins us to talk about stone circle, his newest work with Ballroom Marfa.

“The work features black marble boulders that produce patterns of electronic sound and light from energy generated by solar panels. Each of the eight stones in the circle is carved to integrate LEDs and speakers. The ninth stone, the “mother” stone, sits outside the circle. The mother stone’s solar panels charge a bank of batteries that will power a sound and light score that we will activate with each full moon.”

Mirza hopes that people will forget their own relationship with the sculpture, regardless of what activities may be involved. “It’s not up to me to judge or prescribe. It can be whatever it needs to be. And I think that’s what these monuments sort of represent,” he says.

The “solar symphony” will take place on Sunday, April 29th at 9:03 pm. The location of the sculpture is at the end of Golf Course Road, across from The Marfa Municipal Golf Course.

El Paso-based Muralist Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado also joins us to discuss Marfa’s newest mural. The work is commissioned by the Blackwell School Alliance, and seeks to celebrate the culture and heritage of Marfa.

Alvarado discusses the importance of telling stories of Mexican Americans, how murals can serve as a point of pride, and how El Paso’s Segundo Barrio has influenced his work.

The mural will be unveiled during the first Blackwell Block Party on April 28, 2018. The celebration will begin at the mural on the east side of Marfa’s Casner Building at 11 am.


Thursday, Apr 19, 2018:
Lannan Resident Lesley Stern on Film, Smoking, Gardens, and Feminism

In this interview, Jana La Brasca speaks to writer Lesley Stern about her background and work.

Stern was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and currently teaches at the University of California San Diego. She is the author of Dead and Alive: The Body as a Cinematic Thing, The Smoking Book, The Scorcese Connection, and is co-editor of Falling For You: Essays on Cinema and Performance. 

 The writer will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, April 22, 2018 at 6 pm.

Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018:
Helado Negro On His Musical Influences, the Fragility of the Human Voice, and Composing for S-Town

Roberto Carlos Lange is a New York-based musician. Lange performs under the project Helado Negro. “It’s a name for something to give me the liberty to not think of my own name,” Lange says of the project. “It’s always been important for me to have a way to just start from nothing, there’s no history. I can build a history with that name.”

Helado Negro recently played the Marfa Myths music festival, where we caught up with him. In this interview he tells us about how growing up in Florida shaped the sound of Helado Negro and how his voice is the ‘strangest’ instrument he uses.

Continue reading

Monday, Apr 16, 2018:
William Middleton on Dominique and John de Menil

Jana La Brasca speaks to William Middleton, author of Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil.  In this conversation, Middleton talks about some of the individuals who influenced the Menils, and the vital role the couple played in the transformation of Houston as a vibrant arts destination. 

Middleton explains, “They felt very strongly that their position brought a responsibility to give back. To make the world a more intelligent place, a more beautiful place, and a better place… Everything they did was about that.”

Friday, Apr 13, 2018:
Exploring “Hyperobjects” with Laura Copelin, Emilija Škarnulyte, and Tara Donovan

Elise Pepple speaks to Ballroom’s Director, Laura Copelin, and artists Emilija Škarnulyte, and Tara Donovan about Ballroom’s newest exhibition, Hyperobjects. The show is curated by Timothy Morton and Laura Copelin.

Morton defines “hyperobjects” as entities that are bewilderingly huge— like global warming, plastic in the ocean, nuclear waste— which are seemingly incomprehensible. The exhibition seeks to create encounters with artworks and non-art objects that de-center and expand the scale of human perception. 

Hyperobjects opens at 6 pm on Friday the 13th at Ballroom Marfa.

Thursday, Apr 12, 2018:
“All or Nothing:” Stories of Big Risks from Marfa

Here is the full version of live stories from our “All or Nothing” event that took place on Friday, April 6, 2018 at the Crowley Theater. Thank you to the storytellers, Big Bend Brewing Co., and the Crowley Theater.

If you’re interested in telling a story at our forthcoming events, please shoot us an email as storytelling@marfapublicradio.org.

Storytellers from the event: 

  • 00:00 – Alex Gates is the owner and chef at Cochineal in Marfa. She moved here with  her husband and daughter to pursue a life-long dream.
  • 7:40 – Jeff has lived in Marfa for 6 years. He grew up in Illinois and studied philosophy in Kentucky. At one point in his life, he ended up in California.
  • 24:00 – Chloe Gallagher is a West Coast born writer, muppet enthusiast, and all around amateur. When she’s not complaining about the heat in the kitchen at Stellina – she can be found talking to flowers and trying to befriend stray dogs. She says she spends the majority of her free time boring people with stories they didn’t ask to hear about people they’ve never met.
  • 35:40 – General Manager Elise Pepple tells about her past life as a park ranger in Alaska.