When Waco’s Tea Aguilar gets onstage or in front of an audience, there’s no telling what comes next. It may be music from his guitar; environmental sounds looped into rock, blues or electronically altered music; a beat machine; beat boxing; or even live painting.
Whatever it is, it’s original and for some two decades, that’s been his theme, even if it means more work in finding audiences and venues. “It’s hard to gig with original music, but that’s why I started, rather than learn cover songs,” he said.
The 41-year-old Waco native, who performs with Isis Lee and Damon Something Saturday at downtown’s Waco Winery, is a familiar face in Waco’s live music community, playing solo shows in Waco restaurants, clubs and festivals; adding his guitar work to local bands; and doing some recording.
He recently released his third album, Upright Evo; has exhibited his acrylic paintings in shows ranging from a Waco supplement to last fall’s exhibition of street artist Banksy’s “Haight Street Rat” and the Llano Earth Art Fest; created some new canvases during a recent Cultivate 7twelve performance: and, always moving, may be heading toward something new as he continues to follow his muse where it leads.
“I try to let it be natural,” he said.
Aguilar — Tea is his stage name, Tony his birth name — grew up where music was present, but not pursued, and credits former Lake Air Middle School choir director James Pfeiffer as the spark that stirred his creative juices. He started playing and finding happiness in heavy metal, attending Waco High School until his junior year in 1993 when he dropped out after the birth of his son.
Odd jobs and work with heavy metal Waco bands such as Spore 333, Phylum and Ojo followed, as well as a short stint in Los Angeles before coming back to Waco, where he’s spent the last decade or so shifting into blues-rock, soul and electronica, making a living from his original art and music, supplemented with the occasional stint in house repair and painting.
His music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon and there’s a local following that supports his shows, even as he pushes musical and visual envelopes. “I’ve had a crazy amount of loyal friends,” he said.
Lately, his music has shifted from dealing with personal loss to commentary on the hurt and cruelty he sees around him. His art, Aguilar believes, comes as an always new and original reaction to the world around him.
“As an artist, I’m blessed to record and report this world,” he said.