On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Erick Grillo. He’s a recent Tucson transplant. He is launching his music career by delighting our downtown visitors with a blend of Cuban and pop music. I’m excited to hear his story and how he got here to Tucson.
Today is May 15th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.
Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on DowntownRadio.org- we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.
Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with music from Linda Rondstadt, “It’s About Time.”
Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the old Pueblo, and you’re listening to KT DT Tucson. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson community sponsored rock and roll radio station.
On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Eric Grillo. He’s a recent Tucson transplant. He is launching his music career by delighting our downtown visitors with a blend of Cuban and pop music. I’m excited to hear his story and how he got here to Tucson.
Today is May 15, 2022. My name is Tom Heath, and you are listening to Life Along the streetcar each and every Sunday. Our focus is on social, cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s urban core. And we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From a mountain to Arizona and all stops in between. You get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on downtownradio.org and available anywhere you go. If you have our app on your iPhone or Android, just get the Downtown Radio Tucson app.
And if you ever want to reach us on the show, our email address is [email protected]. That same URL has all of our past episodes. You can find us on social media, Facebook and Instagram. And the podcast is everywhere. You hear your favorite podcasts. Well, today’s show is about music, and we’re going to start with a legend. Today. We have news that came from last weekend where the Tucson Convention Center’s Music Hall was renamed as the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall. We certainly know that the Ronstadt family has been influential in Tucson. Linda has been a world icon for her music. And to have a music hall named in her honor seems very appropriate. In Tucson, Arizona. It was marked with a lot of festivities at the mariachi conference. The Mayor was there and a huge portrait mural. I’m not sure exactly what you call this, but this huge painting of Linda Ronstadt by a local artist, Rock Martinez. You’ve seen his murals all over town. He’s the one that did the Agave Princess on
the Benjamin Plumbing Supply Building on Six. He’s done several others. He did this huge I think it’s like 15 X 30 ft. Massive mural of Linda Ronstadt done in several sections. And that’s going to be hanging at the now Linda Ronstadt Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center. Well done, well deserved, and perfect timing for our show today because we go from a legend to an up and Comer. Met this young man last week. His name is Eric Rio and found out he had come from Hawaii to Tucson, which is always intriguing to me, and that he is working a lot of the restaurants and bars in downtown playing background music and getting a lot of attention. He’s playing a lot of places. His name is Eric Rio. He’s got a soulful sort of rhythm and blue style that combines his heritage with Cuban music. And pop music had a chance to sit down with him and learn about his transition to Tucson and his blend of music. So, Eric, I appreciate you taking some time out of what I imagine is a busy day to chat with
us here about all kinds of stuff. First of all, I found out about you because you are a musician and you played a lot of restaurants and clubs in downtown.
Yeah. So I guess I play at Charles Steak and Del Rey. I also play at the Monica. I play at High Wire. Where else? I play at La Chingada. Those are the spots that I play at regularly. Right now I got Borderlands. I played at Arizona Sands Club, which is inside of the U of a Stadium football Stadium. I played a lot of spots.
It might be easier to just ask you the places you haven’t played. That could be the best way.
Yeah. I’ve been trying to, I guess, play as many places as I possibly can.
So you haven’t been in Tucson that long. When did you move here?
So I moved to Tucson just about January of 2020. I actually moved from Maui, Hawaii. I was living there for about three years. And before that I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. But yeah, I moved right before the pandemic, funny enough, and then I wasn’t tending on getting gigs as soon as I moved here. But once the pandemic hit, everything, as you know, went to like a screeching hole.
It’s the perfect time to be in the entertainment business. Is March 2020, correct. In a new city. But obviously it’s working out. I mean, people are coming back. There’s a lot of life and a lot of places you mentioned are in the downtown area or lots of people out there. How does a musician go about getting that type of business? Do you have an agent? Do people call you or you just go in with your guitar and start playing until they kick you out? How does that.
Yeah. So I guess at one point last year in about maybe I’d say probably in June or July, I set myself the goal to get one gig. And I just incessantly was going around asking tons of places to let me play. And obviously, I don’t have any sort of background here locally in Tucson. I’m literally moved here knowing like a handful of people that live here and that aren’t in the entertainment business. And so eventually through like a friend that was a bartender at the University of Arizona, the Arizona Sands Club. Rather, they got me a gig there. And so in August, I played my first gig. It was like late August, I played my first gig at the Arizona Sands Club. And then it just kind of kept moving on from there. I was like once I played that gig, I was like, I want to be a full time musician. I want to do this and nothing else justice. And so I set myself the goal of essentially acquiring as many recurring weekly gigs as I could possibly get so that I can support a career in music as a musician.
It’s exactly what it sounds like. It was a lot of phone calls. It was a lot of researching different restaurants, bars, clubs, and then literally visiting them four, five, six times until I got a yes. So most places I got nose at, most places I got nose at. But the places that I got yes is that they love me. So they’ve had me recurring with them for a minute.
What type of music do you play? I know I saw the guitar on your Facebook, but do you play the guitar sing, or are you part of a band? Correct.
So as of right now, I’m just doing, like, a singer songwriter situation where I sing and play acoustic guitar particularly. And I play mostly a lot of Latin music and RMB as well, and some pop. So I essentially just play the music that I love personally, which I think is incredibly fulfilling for me, quite frankly. I do know that as a culture, I feel like perhaps Tucson, as it pertains to singer songwriters, is very heavy on the country music side of things. And I think perhaps as a singer songwriter, that’s something that makes me stand out a bit is the fact that I do Latin music, and I also do R, amp, B, and even more specifically, the Latin music that I play is not necessarily, for lack of better words. It’s not Mexican music because of the fact that I’m actually Cuban. So I play a lot of Latin music that I guess it’s a little bit more reflective my culture like acoustic covers of reggaeton artists like, for example, Bad Bunny, like Jay Balvin, like Maluma, like Daleks, these artists
that essentially put out regretto music. I figure out my own little acoustic guitar riff to these things, and I sing them nice.
Are you writing your own music as well?
I am. I’m currently working on two songs that have that sort of same exact vibe to them, like Latin, RMB. I do have elements of, like, Afro Beach as well, because I love Afro Beach and these two songs that I’m working on, and I’m looking to release them hopefully sometime in the next two months. I’m just trying to finish mixing and mastering my vocals.
But for the most part, the instrumentation is done already.
Well, I’m going to have to connect you with the DJ who does the show right before mine. His name is DJ bank, and he does an RMB set on Sundays. Actually, it’s a lot more than that, but the show is called The Art of Easing. And I’ll tell you, on a Sunday morning, I can’t find a better place for music than what he plays. And it sounds like you’re going to be. I mean, the influences that you have are right in line with the stuff that he has. Yeah.
Yeah. There’s a couple of others, too that do it here on Saturdays and Sundays. So I’ll make some introductions because we’re always trying to promote that local artist. Thank you.
I would love that.
Love what you’re doing. And I don’t know, have you had a chance to look too much at Tucson’s history because you kind of sound as you’re talking about all these different influences coming together. We have a very famous Tucson and Lalo Guerrero, he grew up in the Barrio here, and he’s considered like the father of Chicago music. And he started here in Tucson and ended up in La. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance, but he’s someone that you might want to take a look at. Just give him.
Yeah, I have to. Quite frankly, I have to educate myself a lot more into Sonic history, for sure. I guess upon moving here, I kind of was just in my bubble with how the pandemic was. And then after that, I just hit the ground running as far as my music goes. So it’s kind of been a little bit head down type situation. But yeah, I definitely need to educate myself. I definitely educate myself on the history.
Yeah. You haven’t been sitting around with too much idle time on your hands. So a couple of quick questions. First of all, you mentioned from Hawaii to Tucson and a lot of people are going the other way. How does that I get this question a lot, man. What happens? Are you on the run?
Yeah, something like that. No. One of my best friends of life is actually a Tucson like local native. If you were born and raised and lives here. And he actually opened a gym in Morana called Pursuit Fitness. And at the time when I was living in Maui, I had helped another friend of mine open some similar style gyms on the west side of Maui. And so my best friend here kind of enticed me with a move to Tucson to help him open this business. And I don’t know if it was island fever of having lived on the Islands for so long and kind of like wanting to do something new and different, but it was, I guess, good enough deal for me to just pack my bags and come on over to Tucson and change the scenery a little bit.
Well, are you from Hawaii? Were you born in Hawaii?
So I was actually born and raised in Miami, Florida. Well, and moved to Hawaii some time in late 2016.
Okay. You’ve been in some of the hottest music scenes. If you were in the Miami area.
It’s true. It’s very true, man. I have never been this active in music like I am in Tucson. I did have gigs in Maui. I did have gigs in Miami. But it was never my point of focus. It was never something that I was entirely focused on. I think probably more than anything just because I didn’t know if I could sustain a career in music. But it’s obviously doing its thing here in Tucson. So kind of sad. I’m doing it. I’m starting it a little bit late, but at the same time, the present is always the right time.
Yeah, exactly. You start when the timing is right.
Be right back with our second part of the interview with Eric Grio, Downtown Musician. First, I want to remind you that you are listening to Life Along the Streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtownradio.org.
This podcast is sponsored by the Mortgage Guidance Group and Noble Home Loans. If you enjoyed this podcast, keep listening or head over to Lifelongthstreetcar.org for all of our past episodes, current events and things to do while visiting Tucson. Tom Heath and a MLS number 182420 Nova and a MLS number 3087, BK number 090-2429. Equal Housing Opportunity.
All right, we’re back with the second half of our interview with Eric Rio, kind of learning about his transition to Tucson and what we can expect from his musical career. You mentioned you came out here to help with the training. That’s something you do as well, right? That you’re a physical trainer, correct?
I used to be a personal trainer, correct. I used to be a personal trainer. Let me see. I want to say since like 2014, 2015 to just about this year. That was like my primary mode of income. That was my profession, my job. And before that, I was actually a mental health nurse for a little bit. And I actually left the nursing field for personal training because of how depressing and anxiety inducing the medical field is. I actually worked in psychiatric crisis, adolescent psychiatric crisis for quite some time. But yes, now that I’m essentially got a full calendar as a musician, I am no longer doing personal training. I’m just doing the music thing, which is really fulfilling.
How does your friend feel about that? Does he feel a pain?
Honestly, my friend is just one of the most kind, loving people ever. So he was incredibly supportive and really, I guess, helpful when it came to the transition. And yeah, I’m blessed, man. I have some of the best friends that any person could possibly ask for, and he’s one of those people that definitely would give the shirt off his back for you. And so he really helped me facilitate essentially the process of changing careers over.
That’s pretty impressive. After just a few months, you’ve been able to really transition more into a full time spot. There a couple of questions that people are going to ask. Where do they find your music? Are you on Spotify SoundCloud or where do you have your music hosted?
You know, this is something that I personally need to do a lot better about as a matter of fact, I’m getting with somebody next week in order to start the trademarking websites and all that stuff. But I don’t have any music on Spotify right now. I do have some covers on Instagram. As far as if you go to the video section of my Instagram profile.
You’Ll see a lot of what’s your profile?
So it’s Eric, so it’s E-R-I-C-K-G-R-I-L-L-O music. That’s my Instagram username. And if you go on my profile under the video section, you’ll see a lot of long form videos. It pertains to like acoustic covers to Latin songs, as well as Ingas songs, RMB style, reggaeton style, whole bunch of stuff. However, hopefully I’ll be having a lot more covers on like YouTube and even more on Instagram as well. The goal is more than anything, though, for me to put these two original songs out on a Spotify and on all streaming platforms within the next two months or so.
Okay. So the best way, though, for people to kind of keep up with you is through Instagram. Correct.
As of right now, that’s the best way to keep up with me.
We’ll definitely link to that from our pages so that people can find you. But what if they want to hear you live? You’ve got to be playing. If you’re playing every day, what are some upcoming dates that you’ve got?
So basically Thursdays, every Thursday I’m at La Chingada downtown, which is off of Pennington and Scott. I’m there from six to nine. Every other Friday I’m at High Wire from seven to nine. So on the 13th, which I think this is going to air on Sunday, actually. So the upcoming Friday I will be at Charleste Kendall Ray. And then the next Friday I’ll be at High Wire.
Okay. So the 20th, you’ll be at Charo, and then 27th, you’ll be at High Wire.
Correct. And I alternate Fridays like that, on and off. And then Saturday morning I play at Charlo Viva, which is like a vegan restaurant. I play their brunch from twelve to two.
And then on Saturday nights I play again at Chados Steak and Del Rey. But this time I play on their seafood side. Because if you guys are familiar, they have a steak side and they have a seafood side. Essentially two different dining rooms right off the Fifth and Broadway. And then Sunday I play at the Monica. I play at the Monica from eleven to one. And then I play from four to six.
Okay. So not only with all of these places, you’re going to hear good music, get some nice drinks. You’re going to get some fantastic food as well.
For Rio, it is really good vibes as well. A lot of really cool places. Yeah.
Talk to me. We have a few minutes left here. Talk to me about the vibe. When I met you. We were at Charles stake. People were coming up to you and just like talking to you, even the musician was playing. Is this a tight community here in Tucson or are you finding a good fit within this group?
I must say, I absolutely love Tucson. Having moved from Miami and Maui, Hawaii, obviously completely different as it pertains to the physical geographical landscape, if you will, or even the climate. However, as it pertains to the people, I really do enjoy a lot of the people here. People are very kind, polite. They will just come up to you, have a nice conversation. And yeah, particularly at these restaurants, these restaurants do a great job at creating a vibe that is really welcoming and makes you feel like a community, to say the least. Especially, I would have to say, like Florist Concepts restaurants. They’re so amazing, to be honest. I love them quite a bit.
Yeah. A lot of the places you mentioned are under that umbrella. And we’ve had Ray on the show talking about that culture that they’re creating within all of their restaurants. And that’s sort of the idea behind this umbrella Corporation of Flora’s Concepts.
I would have to agree with that. He definitely has created a culture that goes beyond the food, the people that he hires or that they hire. And just the service that they provide in the community that they create is pretty awesome. It’s pretty amazing.
Well, Eric Rio, you are what I think we would call an up and coming musician. And I’m kind of excited because really we can say your career started here in Tucson.
Yeah. It’s crazy.
We’re going to follow that. We’ll link to your Instagram page, and I’m sure we’ll see you out and about at these clubs and restaurants. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing the singles.
Yeah. You know what I was going to say, if you don’t mind, can I add one final bit?
So I am looking for essentially a recurring gig downtown on Wednesdays. So if there are any business owners, restaurants owners, bar owners downtown that are interested, please check out my Instagram, check out my videos. You can see, like essentially live and in studio recordings of what I sound like. And if that’s something you’re interested in, I interested. And I would love to essentially do that for you.
Do you want to throw out, like, an email address or anything or they just get you through?
It could be my first and last name. Erickgrillo. [email protected], that will work perfectly fine. But quite frankly, if you DM me on Instagram, that will work even better.
Okay. All right. So if we want to have one more night of Eric Rio downtown, let’s find someone that will take him in on Wednesdays. Eric, I really appreciate your time, man, and I look forward to hearing you play live.
Thank you, brother. It was a pleasure meeting and thanks for having me on Eric Agrio.
I think he’s going to be a superstar. He’s got a really wonderful personality and a soulful sound. I think he’s going to do well and I look forward to seeing his future here. My name is Tom Heath. You’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar on Downtown radio, 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtownradio.org.
This podcast is sponsored by the Mortgage Guidance Group and Noble Home Loans. If you enjoyed this podcast, keep listening or head over to Lifelongthstreetcar.org for all of our past episodes, current events and things to do while visiting Tucson, Tom Heath and MLS. Number one,
last number 3087, BK number 090-2429. Equal housing opportunity.
Speaking of merch, our book is available. It is available super excited. The full version of the coffee table version, the one that we envisioned has been delivered. If you head over to Lifelongstreetcar.org, you can purchase it there. And we’ll be donating a portion of all of our proceeds back to this fabulous Downtown Radio Tucson station. And I don’t know, I’ve talked about it on the air before. I’m proud of this. James Portis was my partner. He helped with the photos, did most of the photos, did all of the design, and probably wouldn’t have a book went without him. So, James, appreciate you guiding us through this process, and thank you to all of our guests that have made this possible. It’s called My Life Along the Streetcar collection of interviews from the first year on the air. We’ve had about 200 some episodes now, and we just highlight seven of them that were informative and transformative in that first year. So I do think we have other collections we need to get out as well.
Of course, we’ll let you know on that. But we’re just going to celebrate this one for now. If you head over Lifelongstreetcar.org, you can pick those up if you are so inclined. We’ll also have them out at bookstores and places that are featured in the book. We’re getting a commitment from them to donate some books to them and have them sell as well. Well, it’s been a very musical show today. I want to thank Eric Rio. He is performing a lot of places in downtown. I’m sure you’ll see him if you’re out and about. And we’ll link to his Instagram page in case you want to track him down and keep up on when those singles will be dropping that he mentioned. We have some fantastic stuff coming up for you later today. We’ve got Words and Work with Ted Prozelski going to kick it off here at the bottom of the hour. And then we get a tie Logan Heavymantle at noon and then back into the music format with the rest of the afternoon. And of course, we have that rock mix Monday through Saturday. All the
details on Downtownradio.org, including our we actually have a daytime a morning time Drivetime. Dj Paleo Dave is taking the lead as a volunteer and cranking out wonderful music every morning from seven to nine and those things that gets me going in the morning. We also have shows like Arizona four one one and we have new shows popping up all the time. So head over to downtownradio.org and check out the links that are there and the shows with all the interview, all the details of our DJs and show host. Well Congratulations again to Leonoranstat. The Tucson On Convention Center renamed the music hall to the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall. She’s had a wonderful career and one of those very proud two sonans that we like to celebrate. So as we’re leaving with music today thought it’d be appropriate to find a song from Miss Ronstat to play and I chose one from 1969 and the song I like. I chose it though because I love the album name. It seems so appropriate for this event that happened at the convention
center. The album from 1969 is called Hansen homegrown and I think that’s what we think of our Ms. Linda Ronstadt. The song I’m listening to here is called It’s about time. Well my name is Tom Heath. You’ve been listening to Life along the streetcar. I hope you have a great week and tune in next Sunday for another fabulous episode.