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NM trio wins Group of the Year

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico trio known as The Cowboy Way was named Group of the Year during the recent Western Music Association convention in Albuquerque.

Trio members Doug Figgs of Lemitar, Mariam Funke of Socorro and Jim Jones of Albuquerque were honored during the WMA’s Awards of Excellence banquet Nov. 11 at the Hotel Albuquerque.

The WMA is a national organization of Western singer-songwriters, musicians, poets and supporting members. It presented more than 20 awards in music and poetry categories during the awards banquet.

“We’re just thrilled,” said Figgs, who makes his living shoeing horses and raising cattle. “There are some pretty good groups out there. We just have a little different take on Western music than a lot of them. We are getting away from the Western movie stuff and are just presenting a little different picture of it.”

Jones agreed.

“We are kind of doing that Old West harmony but in a contemporary way,” he said.

Jones, a native of Texas, retired from a career in psychology a few years back, but he has been sold on making music since 1969 when he discovered the singer-songwriter scene in Austin. He started performing regularly with a group called the Irish Texans from 1976 to 1983.

Funke, acknowledged as the master musician among the three, developed a fascination for the American West while growing up in his native Germany and pursued that obsession to Socorro.

“We are all pretty active songwriters, but each of us brings something slightly different to the group,” Jones said. “Doug lives that (cowboy) life. And he has not been doing music as long as Mariam and me, so he also brings a freshness to the trio.

“Coming from Germany, Mariam has a different perspective and is an amazing musician with a great feel for the music. I have been an admirer of songwriters all my life and kind of bring that Texas attitude to it.”

The group’s self-titled debut album, released a year ago, won the 2017 National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Wrangler Award for best traditional Western album earlier this year.

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