By: Stacy Keith
Don Caldwell, the Cactus Theater, and Caldwell Kids are all vital pieces of the fabric of Lubbock music, but perhaps no one has quite the perspective on these Lubbock icons as musician Dustin Garrett. Born to parents who were jamboree performers, Dustin began singing on stage at two and was actually named for drummer Dusty Johnson. Dustin soon joined Caldwell Kids and performed with the group from ages 7 to 18. Trained at South Plains College (SPC) in Commercial Music, Dustin knew that music was something he wanted to pursue.
He met his wife Kristi (pictured right with Dustin in this photo by Shelly Hickey) at SPC – she is a fiddle player and has performed with such greats as the Texas Playboys, Tommy Gallagher Band and the Taylor Hickey Band. This talented duo has two children: Stevie Rae (daughter 7) who loves to sing and dance and Lennon (son 4) who loves to sing like his dad.
Don Caldwell was a mentor and role model to Dustin throughout his youth and was so struck by his hard work and talent that he hired him to be the Music Director of the Cactus Theater. Dustin has always been a part of the Cactus Theater and continues to be a frequent performer at the historic venue, now under the ownership of Darryl Holland.
Dustin is a talented performer – mixing powerful vocals and extraordinary guitar skills. In 2019 he formed The Electric Mambo (a favorite cover band which plays gigs throughout Lubbock) and has recently begun touring with Grammy Award Winning and Austin based Country artist Rick Trevino. And yes, he’s a song writer too. Dustin has a new song which was recently released called “If I Lose My Voice.” He also plays with Hannah Jackson and Faith Drake of the duo Lillianah in both the studio and on their live performances. Dustin is credited as score assistant and multiple song credits for the feature film “Destination: Marfa”, writing and composing the ending credits song for the movie. This song was “The World is Crashing Down” and was performed as a duet with Hannah Jackson.
I am always curious about the personal tastes of musicians in not only the style of music they create, but their instruments. I think instruments for musicians are an extension of themselves. Dustin has a Fender Stratocaster that his grand father bought him that he continues to use. The Strat came from Guitar Center and Dustin refers to it as a “road warrior” guitar. It is, in fact, signed by Graham Nash, who played it one night. It is an instrument Dustin cherishes. An important element to his tone on the road is the EMG guitar pick up. He refers to this as his secret weapon, sharing how very important the variety of sound it allows him is – particularly playing with Rick Trevino on tour.
Trevino (pictured with Dustin in this photo by Monica Weatherly) will be in Lubbock July 23 at the Cactus for an intimate one-night show. Local favorite Hannah Jackson will open for the Texas Country music legend. Dustin is excited about the concert – he said they have been playing a lot of large festivals and to play inside this special Lubbock venue will be a great opportunity. Tickets are currently available for the concert – visit the Cactus Theater website to snag yours before they sell out.
The story of how Dustin became lucky enough to be selected to play lead guitar alongside Trevino stems from his friends Tommy Gallagher and Jay Boy Adams who suggested him as perfect for the critical role. Dustin has treasured the time touring with Trevino and shares that he is family focused and a consummate professional – both of which are critically important to Dustin. It is a great fit.
Believe it or not, this busy family man and musician has a “day job” too – as the Lead Food Service Supervisor for University Medical Center. Dustin shared that UMC has been incredibly supportive of his musical journeys and values his role with the health care provider. Dustin has played an incredible amount of performance spaces including the Grand Old Opry and was a finalist in Guitar Center’s King of The Blues 2010 Contest where he became a Top 5 National Contender. He is an expert collaborator and can often be found playing with other Texas music favorites like Will Bannister. (Dustin pictured with Will Banister and Clint Eastwood at the ‘Cry Macho’ private kick-off party in California. Photo by Ryan Roth).
With Lubbock’s interesting and vibrant music culture – it’s always great to see musicians who were born here and feel nurtured and supported to pursue their dreams. Dustin is living the dream right now and sees his beginning with Caldwell Kids leading him back to the beloved Cactus stage with Rick Trevino as coming full circle.
For more information on Dustin Garrett, you can check him out on social media at his Facebook and for information on Rick Trevino, please visit his website at ricktrevino.com and for tickets to the concert featuring both musicians on July 23, please visit the Cactus Theater.