Graham Reynolds

MARFA: A Country & Western Big Band Suite





Graham Reynolds – ‘MARFA: A Country & Western Big Band Suite’ 

The first release on Golden Hornet Records melds a hybrid country, jazz, and classical ensemble to create a sonic vision of West Texas.

Austin, Texas based composer and bandleader Graham Reynolds, known for his original scores for Richard Linklater films as well as artistic collaborations across a wide array of mediums, fuses musical languages and communities together with a new studio album, MARFA: A Country & Western Big Band Suite. Out November 22, 2019, the release is the first on Golden Hornet Records, a new label from non-profit Golden Hornet.

Originally commissioned by Ballroom Marfa as the first part of “The Marfa Triptych: Three Portraits of West Texas” (the genre-hopping multimedia trilogy inspired by the intermingled population of the Texas-Mexico border and Chihuahuan desert landscape), the album features legendary country guitarist Redd Volkaert (Merle Haggard), the celestial pedal steel of Ricky Davis (Dale Watson), and adventurous contemporary string quartet Invoke, all alongside a horn and rhythm section comprised of several of Reynolds’ longtime cohorts.

The opening track “Good Morning, Marfa” evokes the warmth of the sun emerging over the peaks of the Davis Mountains and introduces one of the album’s central musical themes, also heard in “Sunset on the West Edge of Town,” “Afterhours at the Ballroom,” “Good Night Marfa,” and others. The up-tempo train anthem of “Union Pacific” pairs nicely with the rollicking ranch and cattle themed “Stampede.” “Highway 67” conveys the majestic and ethereal dip south from Interstate 10 just past Fort Stockton, which geographically continues on to the Mexican border town of “Ojinaga.” Dazzling and virtuosic guitar work courtesy of Redd Volkaert are highlighted on “Redd Redd Redd” and “Goat Herd.” The string quartet “Runaway” builds on the earlier ride on the rails, while “The Uninhabited” mixes western soundtrack with the often overlooked keyboard sorcery of Graham Reynolds; a meditation on the vast and rugged West Texas landscape that is also apparent on “The Chihuahuan Desert.”

While classical music aficionados tend to be liberals concentrated on the coasts and country music fans are predominantly conservatives in the land between, both genres are up against misperceptions and a system that consistently and purposefully furthers this divide. MARFA: A Country & Western Big Band Suite brings these players and audiences of disparate ideologies together, counteracts stereotypes, highlights the diversity that is present within each community, and melds musical languages to create a provocative, authentic, and original dialogue.

The release will be celebrated with the live Austin premiere of the work, November 23rd at The Highball.


Called “the quintessential modern composer” by the London Independent, Austin-based composer-bandleader-improviser Graham Reynolds creates, performs, and records music for film, theater, dance, rock clubs, and concert halls, with collaborators ranging from Richard Linklater and Jack Black to DJ Spooky and Jeffrey Zeigler. He recently scored Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette for Annapurna Pictures, Happy Jail for Netflix, the Rude Mechs’ Stop Hitting Yourself for Lincoln Center Theater, Ballet Austin’s Grimm Tales, and a multi-year commission from Ballroom Marfa, The Marfa Triptych.  His Creative Capital Award winning bilingual opera, Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance, is currently touring. Amidst his many other projects, Graham also serves as the Artistic Director the new music focused non-profit Golden Hornet. Learn more at


Drawing on the collaborative spirit of rock bands and the composer-led nature of classical music, Golden Hornet is an Austin, TX based non-profit that commissions new music, fosters young and emerging composers, and presents adventurous works in non-traditional settings. Led by Artistic Director composer-bandleader Graham Reynolds and Managing Director Kate Murray, their programming ranges from youth-produced concerts to large scale, high caliber commissioning endeavors. Their new label, Golden Hornet Records, will serve to share and promote the musical work that results from their core programming.

Learn more at