ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the new year, El Gringo wants to go country. Not to worry, though. There will still be El Gringo records in the future.
“I’ve always wanted to try my hand at country,” says Shawn Kiehne, who performs under the moniker El Gringo. “But it won’t be a country record by El Gringo. It’ll be a country record by Shawn Kiehne.”
Kiehne is a graduate of Los Lunas High School and was evaluating a country career before he took a leap of faith and started singing in Spanish as El Gringo.
WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31
WHERE: Santa Ana Star Casino, 54 Jemez Canyon Dam Road in Bernalillo
HOW MUCH: Free
After more than five years performing under the name, Kiehne says he wants to broaden his horizons and try something new.
“There’s more than one facet to the music that has influenced me,” he explains. “Spanish music is obviously important to me, but I also grew up listening to a lot of country. So I’m going to take a chance on it.”
Kiehne has toured most of the world, performing in Latin American countries, including Mexico. He’s been profiled by the Los Angeles Times as well as the New York Times, but is most happy living in New Mexico.
“I never expected when I started this that it would allow me to travel so much and meet so many people,” he says. “I’ve been so blessed to be able to make an impact in people’s lives.”
But before Kiehne goes country, there’s still work to do as El Gringo. First off, Kiehne is working with Spanish songwriter Fato.
“Fato has written the majority of hits for Pepe Aguilar,” he says. “I was on a TV show and Fato offered to produce and help write my next record. Right now, we’re feeling out the new batch of songs and I hope to have a single out in the first quarter of next year.”
But in the short term, Kiehne’s next gig is as headliner at Santa Ana Casino’s New Year’s Eve celebration – a free event. He will perform a three-hour set.
“I’m looking forward to this show because it’s going to be on a night where everybody wants to dance and celebrate,” he says. “It’s also a chance for me to perform in my state.”