February 2022
Nightmares & Daydreams
Prescott Podcaster Tells Stories of the Otherworld

For those who’ve never heard of La Lechuza — the Mexican witchbird — or Dogmen, or kitsune spirits, a podcast by Prescott-based Roque Ramirez and his sidekick Max provides an aural portal into those and many other supernatural and weird phenomena.

Austin native Roque, aka Rocky, started the podcast Nightmares & Daydreams three years ago with his University of Texas classmate and friend Max Rohleder. They’ve built a loyal fan base for their eerie stories, which range from terrifying tales to legends and spiritual lore.

While it is listed as an Austin-based podcast, Rocky has been an Arizona resident since the show began, when he and wife Teresa Joy were living in Sedona. They moved to Prescott two years ago. An electric violinist, Teresa also contributes to the professional sound of the podcast by producing the music and sound effects on the show.

In mid-February, the start of the podcast’s sixth “season” — the periods in which  shows are recorded — Rocky said he will go public on his Arizona residency. The duo plans to work on shows about Arizona’s creepier inhabitants, from ghosts in Jerome and Prescott to Navajo skinwalkers, which the podcast has already discussed in one episode. Rocky says his background as a Mexican-American introduced him at an early age to stories meant to scare children into avoiding danger.

“The Mexican-American culture is thick with lore, legends and parables,” Rocky said.“When I was growing up, magic was real. My grandmother would tell us stories, and everyone around us knew them. … My mother would go see card-readers and bring me with her. Rosita had a huge house that smelled like incense and spices. … My uncle would get the kids together and tell stories, and we’d all get what I’d call deliciously scared.”

As a child, his grandmother warned him about La Llarona, a ghostly, wailing woman who appears mostly around bodies of water. The legend goes that she was a peasant, jilted by a social climber, who then drowned their two children. In other stories the water witch’s presence extends to other dangerous locations, like railroad tracks. These legends felt real to Rocky as a child.

“I grew up across the street from the second-oldest graveyard in Texas,” Rocky said. “Everyone on that street had stories about ghosts and things they saw. … In the Eighties during the Satanic Panic, people would show up in the graveyard in robes, and Mom would call the cops. All the dogs would start howling. My grandma would say there’s something evil walking in our neighborhood, and she’d light candles and pray and do spiritual warfare.”

A latchkey kid, Rocky experienced his share of mysterious events in his own home, and talks about some of them on the podcast.

“Strange things were happening, like cabinets slamming, toilets flushing, and something walking on the roof,” Rocky said. “A lady in white would move from the bathroom to my sister’s room.”

Teresa Joy and Roque Ramirez

Inspired by a podcast called Astonishing Legends, which has a staff of six, Rocky and Max decided to start a podcast and share their own unique spin on the spooky stories they had already been sharing with each other when they worked in a bookstore, then at a law firm.

“We listened to (the podcast) and decided we could do that,” Rocky said.

The Nightmares & Daydreams podcasts include stories about everything from angels to vampires, werewolves to Pukwudgies and other obscure mythological creatures. Both avid readers, Rocky and Max collaborate on research and provide light banter between the stories, some of which are sent in by readers.

Rocky hopes to elicit Arizona stories for upcoming shows, since the state is known for its own legends and mysterious occurrences. But he’s not looking to enact a ghost-hunting effort.

“We are keyboard warriors,” Rocky said. “We like to tell stories, but we’re not going to strap on the proton packs.”

When Rocky isn’t working on the podcast with Max, he’s working for the family business as an integral part of the Esteban and Teresa performing team. Teresa is the daughter of Esteban, a popular musician in Arizona known nationally for his classical guitar playing and popular music performances. As a Prescott resident, Esteban appears locally at the Elks Theatre and in Sedona, across the state and in Las Vegas, among other locations.

The podcast is Rocky’s personal artistic expression and a way to keep in contact with an old friend. It’s also a way to share a cultural influence on his life that has stayed with him to the present.

“I’m glad it’s a passion project, because we have so, so much fun,” Rocky said. “During the pandemic we’ve gotten positive contact from people who say this helps them get through the day. Telling the stories shows us that we all have a lot more in common than not. It’s been rewarding in a way that we didn’t anticipate.”

Hear Nightmares & Daydreams at NightmaresPodcast.net.

Toni Denis is a frequent contributor to 5enses.

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