Who wants to be Albuquerque's next rock idol? The mad scientists at Grandma's Music & Sound and 104.7 FM The Edge are teaming up to craft New Mexico's Ultimate Band. The idea is simple: Take four weeks to hand-pick the best musicians in the city, divvy them up into two blistering rock groups of unsurpassed talent, then turn them loose on each other like ravenous hounds at a majestic cock fight. Battle of the Bands meets Evil Dead II? Oh man, I think I just crapped my pants! If you think you've got what it takes, Grandma's will hold mini-competitions every weekend through mid-April, starting with a guitarist roundup this Saturday. Future auditions will include bassists (April 3), singers (April 9) and drummers (April 16). The top musicians from each category will form two bands, eventually going head to head at the Launchpad on May 14. When the dust clears, one group will walk away with "ultimate" bragging rights plus some sweet-ass booty. That's right, booty. Prizes include a guaranteed spot at this year's Edgefest, six hours of recording time, a chance to perform live for a Virgin Records A&R rep., free stuff from the Gas Pipe and brand new equipment courtesy of Grandma's. Check out www.1047edgeradio.com/ubc.html for complete contest details. Then head west and register at Grandma's Music & Sound. They're located at 9310 Coors NW, just north of Paseo del Norte. And tell 'em Large Marge sent you.
Saturday, March 26; Brickyard Pizza (all ages, 8 p.m.): Perhaps it's his James Dean, just rolled in, screw you kind of approach that really speaks to his fans. Whatever it is, Eric McFadden makes it work. McFadden is in town to do the kind of music you won't hear from his well-known trio or from the P-Funk All Stars. With some impressive notches in his career belt, McFadden has managed to strut his stuff with some of the best, such as the Reverend Horton Heat, Primus man Les Claypool and Bo Diddley. Tonight he will be joined by Wally Ingram, a percussionist from McFadden's latest project Stockholm Syndrome. Ingram has a long list of performing credits including tours and performances with Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal and Neil Young.
Monday, March 28; Launchpad (all ages, 8 p.m.): Having nabbed the 2004 album of the year award from Kerrang! magazine, Leviathan, Mastodon's newest full-length offering, has been making, and please indulge me, a mighty big splash. Perhaps history's only 45-minute metal song cycle based on Melville's impenetrable opus Moby Dick, the new record pays little attention to elementary heavy metal cliché. That shouldn't suggest that Mastodon doesn't proudly weave the influence of bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath into their angular, post-hardcore sound, because they do. Nor should one assume that a literary metal record need be any less dark and frightening, because it's plenty dark and plenty frightening. Somehow Mastodon manages to appeal to people who don't necessarily listen to heavy music, while still blowing the minds of the most staunch metal purists. With the unavoidable saturation of the contemporary music market, that sort of quality is rare and reassuring. Having built a reputation as a technically and emotionally explosive live act, their stature should only continue to grow. Add to this that Mastodon has enough musicianship to live off the interest, creating expansive soundscapes, virtuoso guitar riffing and time changes that'll make your stomach drop, and it becomes pretty clear that Monday's show isn't one to miss.
In the early '80s you'd get your ass kicked for riding a skateboard or being a punk rocker. Back then, the world was not ready for Social Distortion. If you liked this kind of music, you were a rebel, an outcast, one of maybe a handful in your city. But these days, being a punk is as normal as being a preppy was back in the '80s. It seems like everyone rides a skateboard, wears a crooked trucker cap or proudly displays a plethora of ill-advised tattoos. Punk rock has found its way to mainstream radio and penetrated our high schools and shopping malls. It baffles me how so many whiney pseudo-punk bands of today attain such a high level of mainstream success while bands like Social Distortion go relatively unnoticed. It's been 25 years since their inception, eight long years since the last record and five years since the tragic death of founding guitarist Dennis Dannell. I was starting to wonder if we'd ever see another Social Distortion release. But punk rock survivor and fiery frontman Mike Ness and his pals have come through with another uncompromising, solid and hard-rocking record full of genuine, reflective and heart-felt songs that rival the Social D classics.
It is a little known fact that St. Patrick was actually not Irish at all, but British. To keep in the spirit of having a good excuse to drink beer, talk a bunch o'blarney, and vomit corned beef and cabbage among family and friends, the Launchpad presented its own we're-not-really-Irish-either celebration. It was a night in which legends were born. Unfortunately, no one will remember any of them due to the ever-flowing Guinness and Jameson and Bushmills, oh my.
The stubborn asses over at the Donkey Gallery (1415 Fourth SW) don't think poetry should be confined to the official poetry month of April. So, just to be contrary, they're hosting a poetry reading this month on Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m. featuring readings by Erin Radcliffe, Tomás Radcliffe, Matthew Rana, J. Salerno, Nicky Schildkraut and Melissa Weinstein. The event is also designed to celebrate the first all-poetry edition of the Donkey Journal, the gallery's hip monthly arts journal. Refreshments will be provided. These six poets will present a wide range of poetic ideas and voices throughout the evening. According to the Donkey Gallery: "There's something for everyone, unless one wants bongos. There will not be bongos." For details, call 242-7504.
Kevin R. Elder might be a victim of high expectations. Over the last couple years, he's evolved into one of the Tricklock Company's superstars, one of the most talented members of a very talented group of people. His futuristic masque, Splinters, which Elder created and performed with fellow Tricklocker Summer Olsson, was more than just the best thing I saw at this year's Revolutions International Theatre Festival. It was actually one of the most inventive pieces of theater I've ever seen—period.
The first thing you should know is that our very own homegrown partners in comedy Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen no longer call their act Sabotage. They're now called the Pajama Men. The second thing you should know is that, after years of touring to critical acclaim, Albuquerque's favorite idiot twins have been picked up by the Second City, the goofball granddaddy of American comedy institutions. The third thing you should know is that the Pajama Men will be performing a new sketch show called Stop Not Going at the Q-Staff Theatre (4819 Central NE) starting this weekend. The show will run Fridays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. through April 9. $15 general, $12 students. They'll also be doing a fully improvised show called Dirty Thursdays on, yes, Thursdays at 9 p.m. through April 14. $9. You will be amused. 255-2182.
Margaret Carlson brings a whole new meaning to the term fabric art. Her astonishing construction, Husht Reverberations, is composed of over 10,000 yards of donated fabric, and was created with a lot of help from her friends. In its sheer mass alone, this is an impressive piece of work, and I'm told it's even more amazing in person. Carlson will exhibit this piece starting this week at Factory on 5th Art Space (1715 Fifth Street NW) along with an undulating canvas work created by Christy Kay Lopez called The Observer Effect. The show opens Friday, March 25, with a reception from 7 to 11 p.m. Runs through April 25. For details, call 259-9029 or 255-3331.
Twenty years of experience in counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and intelligence can be enough to encourage one to take life easy for awhile—it was certainly enough to get Mike Lewis ready for a comfortable, trouble-free retirement. So when he and his wife, Patricia, moved into a quiet neighborhood in Sandia Park last year, they bought a couple dozen chickens, a handful of dogs and cats, planted a small orchard, and waited for the simple life to begin. Unfortunately, simplicity wasn't what was in store for them.
Here begins the near impossible task of creating a cogent literary "wrap" of the 2005 South By Southwest Music Conference. For one thing, the sheer number of bands and artists showcasing—approaching somewhere in the vicinity of the 700 mark—along with all the related day parties, label showcases and other events is overwhelming, making it difficult if not impossible to glean a "big picture" perspective on the festival. For another, most people who read this and other backend pieces regarding SXSW generally have no context with which to approach such chaotic, pants-shittingly awesome musical overload. Even so, the experience itself fosters a determination to share it that throttles then chokes out the thick-necked specter of futility.
Dateline: Bosnia—An ineffectual but determined Bosnian thief identified only as Fehim was recently arrested three times in one day for three different crimes. According to the Oslobodjenje daily, the 44-year-old man was first caught breaking into a car and taken to a police station in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza. He was released after giving a statement but returned a few hours later after causing a traffic accident with another stolen vehicle. Once again, he was released. Following two more failed car thefts, Fehim decided to try his luck at residential burglary. He was caught breaking into an apartment. This time, he was detained pending trial.
Africa on Screen—The Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe kicks off its Fourth Annual African Effect Film Festival this Thursday, March 24. This must-not-miss festival showcases vibrant, emerging cinema from Africa and the African Diaspora and continues through Sunday. Samba Gidjigo, the official biographer of Ousame Sembene (director of Moolaade and universally recognized father of African cinema), will present a special program “Sembene and Africa.” Sembene's 1965 drama Black Girl will also be screened as part of the program. Other festival highlights include the winner of the Nigerian Film Festival, Agogo Eewa (a funny and scathing example of African political cinema), and Cosmic Africa (a scientific and spiritual meditation on the cosmos itself). Short films, features and documentaries will all be spotlighted in the four-day festival. African Effect is rapidly becoming one of New Mexico's best film festivals, and tickets will go fast. Individual tickets are $8. Passes are available. Log on to www.cca.org for complete schedule/film descriptions/ticket info.
During most of his long but troubled life, no one paid much attention to Henry Darger. With no family and few acquaintances, he lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago, earning meager wages as a janitor at neighborhood hospitals. He attended mass and received communion every day. He claimed to be too poor to own a dog.
Once upon a time, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival and Conference in Austin, Texas, was the scrappy, little-known brother to the hipper and more prominent SXSW Music Festival. Unlike Sundance and Toronto, the festival provided a perfect neutral ground for filmmakers and film fans to mingle. Screenings weren't crowded with studio executives looking to score the next great indie hit and filmmakers weren't under pressure to chat up only worthy distributors. While some of this still holds true, 2005 will certainly go down in history as the year that SXSW lost its status as a “little” film festival.
I'm not sure at what point TLC's “Trading Spaces” turned into the “Saturday Night Live” of cable television, but it has suddenly become the launching point for all kinds of spin-off talent. First carpenter Ty Pennington split off to network success on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Then designer Douglas Wilson tried his hand at the series “Moving Up.” Now, fellow “Trading Spaces” alum Genevieve Gorder is trading on her rickrack-and-throwpillow success as host of the new series “Town Haul.”
So ... my birthday's coming up. Only, what, five months to go? And you're probably already wondering what to get me, right? Yeah. Well, get out your little Hello Kitty pen and scribble this down: Silver champagne straws—so I can sip out of my individual bottle of bub' in style. Wait, come to think of it, where the hell am I going to get one of those one-glass-sized bottles? The last time I saw them here was about four years ago on New Year's Eve. I had the flu and got stuck on the tarmac in Dallas flying back from Washington, D.C., then dropped into Burt's just in time for the countdown. I had one little bottle of Pop (from Pommery) and went home to bed. That sucked. Anyway, haven't seen personal Pop—or any other brand since. Damn you small market Albuquerque! Where are those ridiculous marketing trends when you need them? I mean, 99 percent of that crap (Bacardi-Gras? The Guinness Toast?) is lame, lame, lame. But why can't I cruise around the Universal on Thursday nights, sipping brut out of a silver straw? Fuck it. I'll use the silver straws to drink my Champagne of Beers. They're only $115 at www.vivre.com.
Pop quiz! How many Il Vicino restaurants are there? Give up? Eight. We have two in Albuquerque, and there are now locations in Santa Fe, Colorado Springs, Denver, St. Louis and Wichita. Yes, Wichita. Question number two: Did you know that Pranzo, the Italian restaurant in Santa Fe, was owned by the same guys who own Il Vicino and Scalo? Oh, ya didn't didja? Well, surely you read in this paper that those guys (Tom White, Rick Post and Greg Atkin) just sold Scalo to StevePaternoster. Oh! Question number three: Who is the president of the New Mexico Restaurant Association? That's right, Steve Paternoster. Back to the story. Pranzo was just sold to Michael O'Reilly, and judging from a recent meal I had at O'Reilly's other restaurant, The O'Keeffe Café, Pranzo will be in good hands. The café, next to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, is shockingly underrated. The food is excellent, with a strong focus on local, organic ingredients; the wine list and service are superb. O'Reilly also bought all of Pranzo's recipes and intends to keep the restaurant mostly the same.
The Burrito Lady serves up primo homestyle cooking
By Scott Sharot
Yes, there really is a burrito lady! Her name is Consuelo Flores and she darts like a blur, whooshing between kitchen and cash register, cooking, serving food or making change, always with an ear to ear smile. Consider yourself lucky to find your way to her little corner of the world. To me, this place has become the high altar of home cooking in Albuquerque, largely because of the hands-on nature of the business.