When singer/songwriter Mari Tirsa discovered Emmylou Harris’ “Ballad of a Runaway Horse,” she was moved both by the poetry of the title and the lonesome, vulnerable spirit of the song. But it wasn’t until she learned that the song was a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Ballad of an Absent Mare” based on the Zen Buddhist 12th century Ten Ox-herding Pictures, a metaphor for the path of enlightenment, that she knew she had found her moniker name.

Runaway Horse wanders the more eclectic paths of the Americana folk music scene meandering into a sort of folky shoegazing (bootgazing?) sound creating the experience of a transcendent frontier landscape. Mari works with a variety of different musicians and is currently being anchored by Joseph Manzello on electric guitar as she focuses on more solo work.

Mari Tirsa


A native of New Mexico, now residing in Texas, Tirsa writes songs that strive to connect the dust and toil of the Southwest landscape to the vast and otherworldly skies above. Her father, a writer and painter, and her mother, a contemplative woman of prayer, she has discovered in music a vehicle for both the creative and the mystical sides of herself. Having studied music and performance art with a diversity of teachers in Santa Fe, San Francisco, Austin, Europe, India, and the UK, she brings an eclectic approach to singing and songwriting.


Joseph Manzello


Joe Manzello on electric guitar

As with countless others before him, Joe’s interest in guitar started with the black & white broadcast of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. A few years later, armed with a $10 acoustic guitar (“you could easily stick your fingers under the strings, the action was so high”), group lessons at the school began the journey that has lasted over 40 years. Never quite satisfied with his sound, Joe is always in pursuit of the perfect guitar tone – changing out amps, guitars and effects, vintage and new. As the Reverend Billy Gibbons says “Ain’t no thang, ‘cept TONE!”