Outside In Productions’ 2014 Santa Fe Bandstand One hundred noontime and evening outdoor concerts in 10 weeks, June 23–August 28, in the Santa Fe Plaza and San Isidro Plaza shopping center. (505) 986-6054; santafebandstand.org.
Disclosure: New Mexico Magazine is a sponsor of Santa Fe Bandstand.
SUMMER FESTIVALS & SERIES
THROUGH AUGUST 24
LAS CRUCES Music in the Park Americana, country, mariachi, classical, blues, Tejano, and more fill the air during this free unday evening
series at Apodaca, Klein, and Young
parks. Lawn chairs and blankets are a must. (575) 541-2200; lascruces.org
THROUGH AUGUST 29
LOS ALAMOS 25th Anniversary Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series The series serves up Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard, Albuquerque blues-rock
king Ryan McGarvey, and many more local and touring acts. (505) 690-2484; gordonssummerconcerts.com
THROUGH AUGUST 30
TAOS Taos Mountain Summer Music Series Enjoy concerts, arts and crafts, and food every Saturday in Taos Ski Valley against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo
Mountains. (575) 776-1413; taosskivalley.com
THROUGH SEPTEMBER 6
RATÓN Music on Main Street Full summer season of concerts, food vendors, kids’ activities. (575) 445-4760; ratonmainstreet.org
MAY 22–SEPTEMBER 4
TAOS Taos Plaza Live Local acts perform jazz, country, rock, ranchera, and more. (505) 751-8800; taoschamber.com
MAY 30–AUGUST 8
ALBUQUERQUE Salsa Under the Stars Salsa music and dancing at the Albuquerque Museum Amphitheater on Friday nights. Free dancing lessons are offered. (505) 255-9798;
MAY 30–AUGUST 9
ALBUQUERQUE Jazz and Blues Under the Stars Saturday evenings at the Albuquerque Museum Amphitheater Highlights include Son Como Son, Team Havana, and the Kanoa Kaluhiwa Group. (505) 255-9798; nmjazz.org
RED RIVER River & Brews Blues Fest Concerts at the Red River Ski Area Chalet, microbrew and barbecue tastings, food booths featuring cuisine from local restaurants, and an open-mic night.
(575) 754-2366; redriverbluesfest.com
ROSWELL Fiddle & Griddle Festival The country’s best fiddle players compete for thousands of dollars in prizes on multiple
stages along Main Street. Plus: a barbecue competition, and art and crafts booths.
(575) 420-5718; fiddlegriddle.com
AS HUNDREDS of thousands of visitors well know, every summer Santa Fe Plaza becomes the epicenter of Southwestern culture, hosting landmark events like Spanish Market and Indian Market. When these star-studded affairs aren’t stealing the show, the Plaza presents what has become another big-time attraction, at least for locals: the Santa Fe Bandstand free concert series.
Since its humble beginnings in 2002 as a small gathering of local musicians and fans, the Bandstand series has become a robust showcase for homegrown New Mexico musical talent and international touring acts. In 2013, its shows drew an impressive audience, averaging 820 music lovers per night. One evening, when Austin-based honky-tonkers The Derailers played, attendance surpassed 2,200. This year, the series expands to 100 day and evening concerts over 10 weeks.
Despite the growth, the festival retains its distinct Santa Fe charm. It’s common to see locals on their lunch breaks picnicking in the shade and dancing on the plaza’s cool grass while taking in a Grammynominated act. In the evenings, the town’s free spirits unfailingly take to two-stepping, salsa dancing, and hippie twirling at the very first downbeat.
“The Plaza and the Bandstand stage are sort of like the great human equalizers in downtown Santa Fe,” says Michael Dellheim, executive director of Outside In Productions, which oversees the series. The Santa Fe nonprofit was established in 1995 to bring free, live, professional music to underserved populations in New Mexico. “The great universal equalizer is music. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t ever go to a nightclub but will come to Bandstand. There are a lot of people who say they don’t dance, but they dance at Bandstand. There are no social rules about who gets to enjoy it.”
As least as far back as the early 1860s, a gazebo bandstand was situated in the middle of the Plaza, until the American Indian War Memorial monument was erected on the spot in 1868. For at least as long as the gazebo first enticed musicians to the stage, the family of Santa Fe Latin-music queen Nacha Mendez has carried tunes to the people in the streets, from Mendez’s buskergrandmother in La Fe, Coahuila, Mexico, to the local songstress herself.
“Why the Santa Fe Bandstand has not reached the status of the must-see festival or event everyone in the world should flock to is beyond me,” says Mendez. “We have some of the finest musicians and performers here in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas. I know people who plan their vacations around who is playing on what day.” (For the record: She performs on July 16.)
With 100 concerts to choose from, there’s something for almost every music taste to enjoy this year. (A notable exception is classical; for that, see the sidebar “Summer Festivals & Series.”) Dellheim has secured plenty of aces among the 16-plus touring acts this year, including opening-night headliner and Zydeco dynamo Terrance Simien (June 23), who took home a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Album; Bill Monroe protégé Peter Rowan (July 29), a singer-songwriter (“Panama Red”) who has worked with other greats such as Jerry Garcia and David Grisman; and rockabilly/honky-tonk piano man Earle Poole Ball (August 25), who played alongside Johnny Cash for more than 20 years.
The newly crowned Best Country Act at the 2013–2014 Austin Music Awards, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis (The Bruce and Kelly Show), takes the stage on July 23, and the Wheeler Brothers, who brought home the Austin Music Award for Best Roots Rock Band, play on June 24. Tex-Mex “Nuevo-Wavo” wildman and lifelong New Mexico maven Joe King Carrasco, who returns to the Plaza from his home in Mexico on July 9, was thrilled to be invited back.
“The crowds are just so enthusiastic!” says Carrasco. “There’s this alternative lifestyle thing in Santa Fe that gravitates to the natural rock ’n’ roll animal in me. No matter how long I’m gone, I feel like I’m around family and friends when I’m on that stage. And because there’s no barrier between the audiences and the performers, everybody on the Plaza picks up that same vibe.”
New Mexico–based talent constitutes the bulk of the lineup. “One of the biggest lineup scores is The Handsome Family,” Dellheim says (July 31). The Albuquerquebased alt-country duo has been on an upward trajectory as of late, since providing the theme song to the hit HBO series True Detective. (You can listen to “Far from Any Road” here: mynm.us/1mbqV5C.) “We just caught them before they became eternally booked.”
Concertgoers can also look forward to performances by New Mexico–based Grammy-winning guitarist/producer Larry Mitchell (August 20) and Native American Music Award winner Joy Harjo (August 20).
The local roster includes the winners of last year’s Bandstand listeners’ poll, guitarist Jay Boy Adams and three-time Grammynominated singer Zenobia (August 16), who play sizzling R&B and soul. Also returning is last year’s second-largest draw at Bandstand, the Chicano-rock band Lumbre del Sol (July 18). Dellheim chose “twisted-country” singer-songwriter Joe West to close out the series on August 28. “Joe is a real character, and he also sort of embodies that Santa Fe folk/alt-country tradition that goes back generations here.”
Dellheim, who became executive director in 2012 after the sudden passing of the nonprofit’s founder, David Lescht, describes the past few years of Bandstand as “playing catch-up.” Lescht had always brought in major performers, such as explosive blues legend Guitar Shorty and reggae singer Sister Carol. Still, says Dellheim, about 80 percent of the performers this year are from New Mexico, and that ratio will probably never change.
Although the Plaza is the heart of the action, the series expands to the south side of Santa Fe this year. The San Isidro Plaza shopping center off Cerrillos Road hosts two Bandstand concerts in July and two in August. And while Lescht may be gone, his family carries on his legacy. His son, Tobias, is Dellheim’s “right-hand man,” and his daughter Theona is a strong presence at the Outside In booth during concerts. “With the series continuing and becoming so big,” Dellheim says, “it’s a way for David’s family and friends to acknowledge that his life’s work wasn’t just a flash in the pan.” ✜