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Courtesy of Albuquerque Folk Festival
Voices of Memory
Gary Libman: A Tribute
By Doug Cohen [ Wed Dec 7 2016 3:49 PM ]
The measure of a man can be understood through the variety of realms in which he has had a notable impact. Gary Libman made his mark as a family man, husband, father and grandfather. He also had a notable professional life in industry as a microbiologist, as a musician and as an extraordinarily outsized volunteer in our city as one of the long-time leaders of the Albuquerque Folk Festival community. A portrait of Gary would be woefully incomplete without noting that throughout his life was fondly known for his puns, his joke telling and especially for his spontaneous humor.
During the memorial service singing was heard. It went something like this, "This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, Let it shine, let it Shine, let it Shine."
Hosts Peter and Trylla Esherick effortlessly welcomed the large group of mourners and celebrants of Gary’s life. Within an hour, a forty-plus person song circle broke out in the spacious backyard under three tent awnings on a beautiful fall afternoon. Instruments aplenty were pulled out from their cases and the music floated across the property to celebrate the life of an extraordinary man, leader and inspiration to thousands.
It was a fitting tribute to Gary, who for many years had been a force of nature in the folk music scene in New Mexico and beyond.
“Gary was the lifeblood of the Albuquerque Folk Festival. It will be a tremendous loss not having him around,” said AFF founding board member Linda Starr.
Earlier in the day, at a graveside service, people remembered both the personal and public sides of this influential man who presided over the resurrection and growth of the AFF from a local into a regional phenomenon— especially after AFF moved its location to the Albuquerque Balloon Museum in 2012. Gary focused on developing the relationship between AFF and the Museum, including becoming a board member of the relatively new Museum. Gary’s goal was to promote the growth of both the Festival and the Museum.
Leaders are people who are busy minding the future while many around them often dwell in the present or cling to the past. Leaders create futures that are distinctly different from the past. That is just a small part of the story of Gary Libman’s legacy in Albuquerque. Evidence of his leadership was visible throughout Burque and beyond. For example, under his guidance, attendance at the Albuquerque Folk Festival doubled from 2,000 to approximately 4,000 for each of the past three years.
Many people who knew and loved Gary were eager to share their insights about what made Gary so special. Here is some of what they told Weekly Alibi.
Bill Balassi—Albuquerque Folk Festival Board Member and fellow band member— remembered Gary, saying, “Like many of us, I remember the first time I met Gary ... at someone’s house, this person comes in carrying an armload of instruments and exuding energy that immediately filled the room and transformed the evening. I said to myself, 'Who is this guy?' I’m deeply grateful that for the next twelve years I’ve had the privilege of finding out.”
Bill’s memories continued at Gary’s funeral, where he said, “For many here, you know Gary best as the director and spokesperson for the AFF. It is hard to imagine someone better suited for this position. Gary had the managerial skills, the encompassing vision to separate the essential from the trivial. He had unflagging energy and the patience to always respond with grace and kindness. And the enthusiasm to make you believe that the Folk Festival was about the coolest thing anyone could be associated with.”
Balassi added to those who had also commented on Gary’s “wide ranging and deep love for music" by recalling that Libman was the founder and leader of the Placitas Mountain Band. He played clarinet for Klezmer gigs with the Adobe Brothers, billing the group as Shlomo & The Adobes. He regularly played with the Albuquerque Megaband. He made music each week with the Wednesday Guitar Group. He was a member of the annual acoustic orchestra known as Carp Camp in Winfield, Kansas. And he played banjo, clarinet, and autoharp with the contra dance band Cheap Shots, with whom he played his last gig at this years Albuquerque Folk Festival.”
Bill Balassi closed his remarks by saying, “Gary left a legacy most of us can only aspire to. He made the world a better place. He was irrepressible and irreplaceable.”
Deb Brunt—Albuquerque Folk Festival Board Member also remembered Libman. “Whenever Gary was promoting the Festival, including when he was on KUNM, he always made sure to mention that AFF was an all volunteer organization and Festival. He was passionate about it being a participatory event. Gary was also a proponent of including dance at the Festival. He was a big part of FolkMADS , the New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society. Gary was a leader of the late-night jams at the FolkMADness events in Socorro each Memorial Day weekend.
Linda Hubley—Operations & Events Manager, Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, City of Albuquerque recalled Libman's talents. “It was easy to admire Gary for his amazing talents as a musician and also for his many contributions in his professional career. The one thing I valued most about Gary, however, was how he used humor in his everyday life to entertain and uplift friends and strangers alike. Gary loved to be funny and he was one of the best at using humor to unite people to work towards a common goal, even when there was disagreement. When working with Gary, you always knew there would be plenty of grinning and lots of head-shaking moments—a constant reminder that we need to laugh more and not take life so seriously. You just never knew what was coming next, but you knew it was going to be entertaining and you wanted to be a part of it. He was a genuine and caring man who embraced everyone and everything with a carefree spirit. It is a great loss to everyone who was part of his world.”
Paul Garver, Manager, Albuquerque International Balloon Museum also had something to say about Libman. “Gary Libman was not only a Balloon Museum trustee. He was our friend. In fact, anyone who met Gary could not help but like him. He was a delightful person and a gentleman. His memory will be cherished by many, including not just the Balloon Museum family, but also all of those with whom he worked as part of the Albuquerque Folk Festival.”
Peter Esherick, Past-President of the AFF Board and musical partner with Gary told Weekly Alibi, “Early on, the big idea behind the Festival, it’s purpose, was to build community through participation—
Gary is the absolute embodiment of that.
And through his involvement with AFF, he suddenly gets to belong to a community and have a good time with others, and give back to the community through his volunteerism, learning about other people and other cultures: that was his great gift to our region.”
Debra Fortess, Apple Mountain Music Store Owner, and AFF Board Member was also able to comment about Libman's life and work. “Gary was happy we carried autoharps. He gave autoharp workshops here, which became among the most popular workshops we had.
Norma Libman, Gary’s former wife recalled, “Gary was an amazing person with music, could pick up about any instrument, and play it by feel. I was always in awe of that. When I was in college and required to play recorder, I never had lessons. Lack of exposure, so proud I could play a few notes . ‘Look, I can play,’ I said to Gary. Then, he picks up the recorder, and immediately, within seconds was playing recognizable songs. He was so talented, he could play anything. He was musically proficient in almost an instant.
“He was a very hard worker, whatever he took up, being a father to the kids, a volunteer, professionally, he got things done.”
Amy Cohen, Gary’s daughter remembered the man, saying, “Driving with dad, he used to keep a baton in the car, and he played classical music during car rides. Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and he conducted at the red lights; it made music more exciting.
I have one child, only three years old; he loves to sing and hear music. I’m really hopeful he gets that music bug. He loves music, and loved when my father Gary would play, he was mesmerized.
He was so kind and generous, with family, loved his children and grandchildren. For my three-year-old son, Gary bought an Explora Children’s Museum annual membership. Once a month he took him regularly.
And something else about him as a family man, not mentioned in funeral: Gary’s mom passed away two weeks before turning 100. She was living here, and he took such incredible care of her. He went to her every day, when he was not in the hospital himself…She noticed his absence when he was in the hospital very much. Gary was his mother’s only remaining son, and he was the center of her life. He was a daily visitor and that was all that mattered to her.
“Although we all gagged at some of Gary’s puns and jokes, he was dependable for making people laugh and feel good in his presence.”
Erika Gerety-Libman, Gary’s wife, said, “Gary was incredibly enthusiastic. Everywhere we went he tended to wear the Folk Festival t-shirt. He consistently promoted the Festival, and everywhere he went he encouraged people to find or revive their musical selves. He brought enthusiasm to a lot of people. For example, he’d play back up for and taught young kids how to play their instruments.
“The thing about wearing the shirt or hat of the Festival, that was who he was too, a passionate person ... If people gave him a present of a shirt, he’d wear it if was going see them again. It was his way of showing his love and caring.
“Gary was really excited, when the ABQ Folk Festival won the Bravo People’s choice award from the City of Albuquerque.
Interacting with the volunteers was the main job of Volunteer manager; and Gary collected and disseminated information to the volunteers, which became an army on the day Festival itself. Gary would put together letters, and named the people he was so proud of in announcements throughout his leadership of the festival. Whether it was by email or phone calls or in person, Gary would thank and acknowledge the importance of everyone—
What was also charming about him was his embrace of his Chicago family’s Jewish culture. He embraced that and taught people about his tradition. Gary had such a fun vision. He brought people into holidays through his love of telling jokes, old Jews telling jokes, with the accent, and through telling stories about how his family got here.
He was in touch with his family immigration story. And he was a leader in his family. One of the things he did was write a play about the immigration of the family from the old countries. He had his cousins play their parents. All the family watched, and as they played it, his aunt would yell out how true it was. ‘It’s true, it’s true.’ To create the play, Gary sat with a tape recorder and had the elders tell their story, and he prompted them with memories. An hour would go by of people correcting each other about the last boat out.”
This is just a sample of the many stories his friends shared. Some retold their favorite joke or story Gary told. So many people were at the ready to share their memories of this remarkable man, Gary Libman.
Gary’s passing will leave a huge hole in the spirit of New Mexico.
Douglas Cohen – Culture Writer & Essayist based in Corrales.
In Review: Darlingside
An awesome Americana ensemble
By Doug Cohen [ Thu Nov 17 2016 4:05 PM ]
The room was filled with harmony enthusiasts as well as local musicians awaiting Darlingside. The Massachusetts-based quartet is on the western arm of a national tour and they performed at The Cooperage sponsored by AMP Concerts on Nov. 15th.
The crowd is "Ready for take-off" as the band takes the stage. Four men tightly surround the mic stand center stage, lean into a circle and blast out the first number, "My Gal, My Guy." Seizing the moment and galvanizing the crowd, their voices quickly blend into a soaring, curving stream of harmony. As the first song ends, explosive applause.
Over the course of one extended set, the audience is willingly transported by Darlingside into an enchanted world of musical dexterity and vocal harmony. The entire evening was a journey of collective musical discovery.
After a few songs, it’s time for meeting the band. They announce that it’s their first time headlining in Albuquerque. They had an enthusiastic first gig here last year as an opening act for Patty Griffin, and thus developed an following—many of whom came back tonight. Indeed, the room is filled to the brim. Since it’s just after the election, they mention what a long and strange week it’s been, and that there is no place they’d rather be than hanging out with their audience in a music club.
Their instruments include electric and acoustic guitars, bass, fiddle, cello, keyboards and percussion. During parts of the evening, they are joined by the opening act, a duo, Frances Luke Accord, who smoothly and ably contribute to the musical prowess of the performance.
Cello leads off the 4th song, "My Love," while a mandolin is being fine tuned. Two band members at the mic. The cellist sings along on the gorgeous melody even though his face is nowhere near the microphone. We imagine we are hearing him in spirit. Now, the mandolin player picks up a fiddle and the song turns a corner into a moody, beautiful instrumental bridge to closure.
The energy was contagious throughout the night right from the beginning of the show. On "The Catbird Seat," they deeply and easily weave their resonant voices. This is followed by one of the strongest performances of the night on "The Ancestor," during which they sing, “But I will find my way/ Out of the dark someday/ Into a crimson yellow sun."
The originality of Darlingside defies categorization. In a good way, however. It is three quarters through the evening, and I find myself at a loss for exactly what kind of band to call them. But, I would certainly call them spirited, immensely talented and a gifted ensemble.
They have been recording and touring extensively and have released four records. Several members of the band are multi-
This tour is now taking them from the West (New Mexico, Colorado, Texas), to the East (Mass. Rhode Island, Vermont, and around New York state), and then over to the U.K. and Europe. This extensive schedule is an example of their popularity and enduring stamina for the road. As evidence of their growing prominence, Darlingside was name Artist of the Year for 2015 at the Folk Alliance International Awards in Kansas City.
Before they close, they speak to the audience again about how grateful they are to have this crowd join them in their musical feast. They leave the stage to rousing applause and are called back by the shouts and whistles. The encore number, "4th of July" provides a fitting close to a tremendous evening of song.
Follow Darlingside at darlingside.com. Join their mailing list, and look for their return to Burque along with their local,harmonically charged up and enthusiastic fans.
Douglas Cohen is a Culture Writer and Essayist. His concerts and music festival reviews are at www.alibi.com.
Courtesy of the Artist
In Review: Peter Mulvey
By Doug Cohen [ Tue Nov 15 2016 10:42 AM ]
Peter Mulvey is easily the most earnest and honest singer-songwriter on the circuit I’ve seen in years.
He is a man just as natural and comfortable in an intimate setting as he is in front of a large radio audience being heard by thousands. Mulvey is a veteran, itinerant performer with over two decades of touring, recording, song-writing and co-writing songs under his belt.
Mulvey handcrafts songs with precision, delicacy and a flair for narrative depth. Rather than call him a folk singer, he looks at himself as a writer and a keen participant-observer of life. He has an ease with storytelling that he wears like an old, perfectly fitting corduroy shirt.
In fact, it is a sign of a great and wondrous entertainer when the stories and banter between songs is as engaging as the outstanding performance of the musical material itself.
That’s how it was with Mulvey's performance at the Cooperage in Albuquerque, Nov. 4, promoted by AMP Concerts. He excelled as a singer-songwriter with many gears, including overdrive. The audience was in rapt attention throughout the evening. Through two substantial sets Mulvey demonstrated that he is a tour-de-force as a one man song machine in human form.
Drawing songs from across the range of his repertoire, he expanded the room into the realms of personal and world history, art and literature, as well as current affairs.
Within a couple of songs, people in the audience were head-bobbing and toe-tapping away to the rhythms and vocals. Mulvey is a masterful guitar player which is why his set took off like a human-powered rocket. He continued to build the mood with a series of topical, humorous and political songs. Since it was within a couple days of the World Series, he told the story of the 108 stitches on a baseball, 108 beads on a monk’s necklace and 108 years of the Chicago Cubs' curse being broken that week.
In an interview with Weekly Alibi, Mulvey spoke about his early influences and formative years as a musician. As a child, growing up Catholic, he was exposed to Greek myths and stories in church. He added that, in his opinion, if people are lucky they come to see the stories in their Catholic upbringing, retrospectively, as myths.
Musically, he began playing guitar at seven years old and was exposed to rock and roll in high school. Early artistic influences included guitar specialists Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges. As a very young man, he began performing on the streets and in the subways of Ireland and Boston. These experiences in his youth were the most indelible and formative of his early musical career.
What cemented his path was that he fell in early with people who are the singer-songwriters that do this for a living. Mulvey wanted to become someone that made "live music for live people." “When I encountered these people," he continued, "I wanted to play music the way they play music.”
Between the ages of 20-22, he was exposed to the seminal Emmylou Harris record, Wrecking Ball, the wonderfully moody and atmospheric albums by Ry Cooder, the highly esteemed Tom Waits, and one of the giants of the folk festival and singer-songwriting scene, Greg Brown. It was at this time that Mulvey also had close encounters with the jazz genre.
“It’s the myth and dream realms, that is what we’re after. I feel like of all the musicians, it’s what the jazz players can say that’s more profound than any lyricists.”
Mulvey is a busy and prolific artist. He stated, “I can think easily of next four records I’d like to make ... with a violinist, with a string quartet, another with a group of female singers and a party record of old folk tunes.”
“I actually need to goof off and give those projects room to grow. Time to play, that’s what art is, play. American puritan ethic, we narcotized ourselves with work, avoiding the real business of being a human being ... caring about the people around you, sitting with the uncertainties of life. That’s what’s important.”
It's melodically clear: From Peter Mulvey we not only get entertained, we get educated.
Look for Peter Mulvey to return to our area on March 11, 2017, when he’ll be performing at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales, N.M. Tickets for that springtime show are now available by clicking on this handy link.
In Review: Handsome Ghost and Melanie Martinez
By Tasha Lujan [ Wed Oct 26 2016 2:06 PM ]
Some might say having a crib on stage is bizarre but it’s definitely the norm for Melanie Martinez’s Cry Baby Tour.
As soon as I showed up to get in line, there was no doubt this show was sold out. Girls dressed up with big bows, doll dresses, and bright pastel colors wrapped around the Sunshine Theater all the way back to First street. You could tell the fans' outfits were inspired by Melanie’s doll-like image. So much so that some other folks near the Sunshine Theater passed by fans gasping, thinking it was Melanie herself standing in line.
Handsome Ghost started off the show with an electronic, indie pop sound. Handsome Ghost reminded me of Owl City, mellow,bubbly, yet glitchy. Everyone was relaxed and swaying to the ghostly sound emanating from the opening band, occasionally moving their hands in the air with the songs, like they were trying to catch the elusive spirit rising from the stage. The set felt like the calm before the storm. It was enjoyable because you knew once Melanie got onto the stage everyone was going to be screaming, pushing and shoving, trying to get as close as they could to the stage. Handsome Ghost provided a sense of calm and good vibes to the audience as an otherwise anxious group of concert-goers listened, grooved and waited for Martinez.
Sure enough, fans screamed with so much excitement I could feel my ears ringing when Melanie walked onto the baby themed stage.
The stage was full with over-sized props of a cake, crib, and wooden blocks that lit up and spelled “Cry Baby”. She has definitely come a long way, musically, from her time on “The Voice” with her coach Adam Levine. Her image. though, has stayed the same with her half-black and half-fun-colored hair and look of innocence. She moved around the stage singing, smiling, lifting everyone’s heart when she got nearer.
Everyone sang along to her nursery rhyme-like songs. I don’t think cell phones stopped taking photos until about the fifth song, finally giving those in attendance a decent view. One thing that Melanie usually does that she didn’t do is at this show was pouring milk onto her fans. It sounds gross but a part of me actually wanted to see that now legendary act come true. I wanted to see the audience reaction. Would they have loved it or would they be absolutely disgusted and walk away? As far as Burque goes, we'll never know.
Towards the end of the show, she sang my favorite tune—and probably everyone else's too—"Mad Hatter."
Martinez played an encore, of course, for "her crybabies." which is what she calls her fans. Overall it was a fantastic show with lots of colors, enthusiasm, and an unique vibe. Even though her baby-themed show and music seems sorta bizarre in retrospect, I would definitely see her in concert again if I could.
Raven Wolfe Photography
In Review: Wendy Rule
By Douglas Cohen [ Mon Oct 24 2016 1:52 PM ]
Wendy Rule is a musical enchantress. She weaves vocal spells with her songwriting and choices of traditional songs. She is a full-throated, deeply resonant vocalist.
Rule performed 10 songs at the North Valley Library as part of AMP Concerts free series in association with the Friends of the Public Library.
Among the most notable songs were several atmospheric ones which embodied her personal strength and earth goddess nature. "Radiate," her final song, was the most powerful in the set and shifted the energy in the room. It was written for her son Ruben, now a young adult who is also a touring musician with two bands in Australia. The lyrics included these lines: "Your heart is true … and blessings are flowing through you."
Early in her set she introduced an old Welsh ballad, "John Riley," a classic folk song that she performed, a capella, to haunting, melodic perfection. Rule makes use of modulation and alternating her strong voice with a softer delivery, as she did on the fine song "Into the Trees." She sang: "A forest dark, a midnight magical, I took a walk, into the trees, to be with you, to see our dreams..,"—This song appears in a new Australian film, Boys in the Trees, that recently won best picture at the Austin Film Festival.
Rule has a highly engaging singing and storytelling style, connecting to the crowd through both anecdotes and a guitar-accompanied vocal performance. In "Winter," she sings, “l build a hearth of stone, and always a fire will be burning … and will fill all the shadows with light … When spirit calls my name, I’ll offer a song … Here by the fire, all I require is stillness."
Australian Wendy Rule, has Pagan leanings and is a musician with a purpose: “I love to help people connect to their own emotional world, and to trust it," she said in an interview with Weekly Alibi. “I hope to help people to honor their connection with nature and the world around them. And I like to inspire them to follow their own soul path."
Rule’s musical origins began with the fact that her father was a huge jazz fan. He introduced her to singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. So Rule became a jazz singer for some years before she began writing her own material. And she performed in musical theater after high school and through college.
Her songwriting process begins with a big emotion that needs to be expressed, or a big idea, such as those found in mythology. Then she takes a walk in nature, lets the process incubate and finds that the lyrics and melodies come through during her long walks. In that way, she opens up to what the universe is offering to her.
Her performing configurations vary from solo—as she did today—to pairing up with her husband Tim. For 20 years she has toured with cellist Rachel Samuel. She has also worked with a big band of up to seven pieces when touring at home in Australia. More recent influences include Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Björk, the Doors and world music.
The audience at the North Valley Library learned that Rule will be relocating with her husband to Taos as of this Winter. We welcome her back to the Land of Enchantment!
Rule has many CDs, is on You Tube and Instagram and keeps up active email correspondence with those who sign up for her mailing list. [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Douglas Cohen is a culture writer and essayist based in Corrales, New Mexico. Find his concert and music festival reviews at [link].
In Review: Igor and The Red Elvises
By Rene Thompson [ Wed Sep 28 2016 1:03 PM ]
The Russian rockabilly surf rock band, The Red Elvises, have been coming to Albuquerque for years and at one point had a pretty massive local following when they would roll into town at the very least once a year. Those that have gone to their shows become nostalgic for their showmanship and inventive sounds. One cannot help but want to dance to and join in on their audience immersive gigs.
These days though, there is only one original member left in the band that was founded in 1995. They’ve changed their name to Igor and The Red Elvises, maybe because it just isn’t quite the same show or band with different members.
It was unfortunate to see that only a small number of people came to the show on Tuesday. This may be part of a larger issue; many millennials out and about downtown are no longer going to see bands play anymore, but seem more interested in hip hop and EDM.
The newer members of The Red Elvises play the same songs as the other incarnations of the bad did, and have even added a few new ones to their repertoire, but the show itself is different. The new singer does not have a Russian accent, that is an aspect that made the band what it used to be. The fervor was gone and replaced with a younger and not as lively group.
I must admit I hadn’t seen them play in years, and don’t get me wrong, every single one of the new band members are talented in their own right, especially their new horn player—she is a badass—but also their formerly infamous red balalaika bass was not being twirled about and used as a show prop as it once was. Essentially the show didn’t have the flair it once had. This could be due to Bernov, the previous bassist, quitting the band in 2009 to join the circus as a clown with a group called Slava's Snowshow.
But things do happen. Something that was made notable by Russian accents, grandiloquence and sheer soul to play had been changed and ended up sort of lost on a younger audience. Unfortunately this gig missed the mark of their usually grandiose shows.
According to their bio, showman extraordinaire Igor Yuzov is “perpetually globetrotting, and in the process he has found scores of wildly talented, entertaining musicians to bring into the fold of this increasingly international party band,” and it’s understandable that sometimes bands need to change to keep thriving.
Maybe it’s that I was hoping to see the show I had memories of from in my youth, but sometimes bands develop into something else entirely, even though they're playing the same music. And sometimes older fans are either going to embrace it or they’re not.
The new musicians added to the group and they did put on a great show. Anyone looking to go have a great time dancing to fun and upbeat vibes will thoroughly enjoy the newly evolved Red Elvises, especially if they play Launchpad again.
In Review: Globalquerque!
By Doug Cohen [ Tue Sep 27 2016 2:38 PM ]
A Moment from day two at Globalquerque 2016,final set:
Those of us on the farthest right side edge of the audience in the Albuquerque Journal Theater last night witnessed a notable and magical "behind the scenes" glimpse of the international flavor and inter-generational composition of the ¡Globalquerque! performers community.
During the majority of the set of the remarkable Inner Mongolian group Anda Union, a five year old Mongolian girl, costumed in a regal, royal blue outfit, danced backstage in the wings, gently performing her careful footwork, body swaying and arms in motions while the adult members of the band masterfully entranced the room. For nearly an hour, we got to see this poised child practicing her craft, cradled by her extended artistic clan, while we took in the hypnotic and classically arranged musical pieces of Anda Union.
Just being in the presence of their instruments was transportative. Hand crafted modern versions of traditional Mongolian instruments that resembled cellos, stand up basses, flutes and violins were just a portion of the exotic instruments on display. Additionally, most of the players wore traditional Mongol plains costumes.
Their music ranged from full orchestral pieces to voice and throat-singing solos, to flute and throat-singing numbers. The packed auditorium was filled with an enthusiastic audiences treated to best that ¡Globalquerque! has to offer–a world assembly in a beautiful setting in the South Valley of Albuquerque.
Globalquerque is a community in the disguise of an international music festival. One enters and wanders the grounds, running into old friends and warmly welcomed by vendors in the eclectic bazaar and food cart area. Such quality purveyors as Jambo Café, the East African restaurant from Santa Fe, to the Vivac Winery, and the Santa Fe Brewing Company are but a few of the booths in The Global Village.
We got to sample a handful of the approximately 17 acts featured in this year’s fest. During dinner on Saturday evening, the Austrian brass band ensemble Federspiel was in mid-set on the main Plaza Mayor.
Federspiel is on a mission to redefine and modernize the Austrian folk tradition for current audiences. Their spirited set showcased their journey from earlier forms of Austrian folk styles into contemporary interpretations of a long standing approach to big band music. They also featured original compositions in their set packed with panache. Bravo!
Then we entered the Theater for an astounding experience, the music of Baladino from Israel. As we learned during their set, Baladino refers to the land and culture of the Sephardic Jews who populated Spain up until the 15th century, then migrated throughout Europe and the New World.
Their set was mesmerizing from the first notes. This 4 person band consists of a percussionist, a reed player, a mandolin-like instrument player and a vocalist. Early in their set, as the singer explained, they did a ballad about a bride being summoned by a wedding party to reveal herself to her groom. This atmospheric number showcased each performer to great effect, each of whom are ambassadors for Middle Eastern artistry.
this tune kicked the performance into a high gear they were to maintain for the remainder of their time onstage. At one point, the reed player was introduced as about to perform on a PVC-pipe-crafted instrument. He surprised and delighted the crowd as he hopped up and down, dancing while he played. The pulsing, and rhythmic prowess of Baladino delivered a wallop of world music while engendering admiration and enjoyment throughout the theater. Screams and yelps greeted the finale of their set.
It was also a treat to see all the members of Baladino hanging out on the grounds, visiting with people and attending other performances throughout the evening after they were done playing. Such is the spirit of ¡Globalquerque!
As luck would have it, we were able to stay in the Theater, in our front row of the main section for the next act. My wife and I were so happy to discover that the original, quirky and topical Jill Sobule was booked for !Globalquerque! as the sole representative of the American singer-songwriter genre.
We both knew her from earlier periods of her long, 11 album career. Sobule is a kick and a character from the moment she is at the mic.
She builds her sets in a somewhat democratic fashion by either asking the audience if she should play a certain type or song on her mind, or by giving a multiple-choice outcry of songs or song-styles, to the crowd and listening for the response. Of course in true contemporary folk music style, she tells little stories to introduce all her numbers.
Jill Sobule presents as both a self-aware and social-activist modern American, navigating troubles and life-stages via her uncanny, of the moment songwriting abilities.
Early in her set she played "A Good Life" and described it as a "Love song for the Apocalypse." As a nod to her audience and a request, she did her New Mexico song, a beautiful ballad of a road trip and a relationship story all rolled into one.
After telling us about losing her beloved mother this year, she played the first song she wrote for her. "Death in Venice Beach" is about hoping her mom would come to her in her dreams. It is a poignant, lovely and tribute-worthy song which portrayed her bond with her mother and her journey forward, going on without her.
True to her style of crafting numbers from life experience she played "San Francisco." a song about a "massage gone bad." She told the crowd a story of going to get a massage with a friend and feeling a bit of an off vibe in the establishment.
Turns out the masseuse was a dominatrix in another alt-universe of her life. And so Jill was treated to "too much information" about the fetish world. And that story finds its way into the song. As was said at the outset, this performer is a highly original artist and an outsized entertainer. Bring her on for more!
Back out in the Plaza Mayor afterwards was the Brazilian singer Dona Onette. She has quite of life story. She was discovered as a performer later in life after her career as a history professor and Secretary of Culture for a Brazilian state.
This soulful woman holds her audience in a hypnotic state as she traverses from traditional, regional tunes into carimba at the root of the famous lambada style. Dona Onette has the commanding presence of–as my old teachers used to say–a big self. She is worth seeking out musically and I highly suggest listeners look for her recorded work.
¡Globalquerque! delivers a diverse and extremely well curated array of music and culture. During the day Saturday, was a free fest within a festival. there were participative workshops, demonstrations and performances in the main plaza of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
Between those events and the two nights of major programming, its no wonder ¡Globalquerque! is now a draw not only for Albuquerque visitors, but for a great many international music festival fans who travel from other cities and states to attend.
Not surprisingly, it is already on our Calendar for next year. So, check the dates for next year, then, don your ethnic garb, and we’ll see you next time in the global village.
You Could've Been Part of the Crowd
Watsky Shone at Sunshine
By Alibi Staff [ Mon Sep 5 2016 4:07 PM ]
This past rainy weekend, Sunshine Theater was rocked by WATSKY, Witt Lowry, Daye Jack and Chuckwudi Hodge. If you missed out, here are a few snapshots to give you a taste of the energy that was bouncing off the walls and running through the crowd.
Also, this is a gem if you're all about that old sound.
Vivaverdi2013 via Wikimedia / CC 3.0
Puccini and Barber End Opera Season on High Note
A glimpse of La Fanciulla and Vanessa
By Daniel Davis [ Tue Aug 30 2016 11:24 AM ]
The final week of the 60th Season of the Santa Fe Opera included two operas by two great opera composers, Samuel Barber and Giocomo Puccini. Both works have the significance of originally being commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The fact that I had never seen either opera piqued my curiosity and interest and I truly enjoyed both operas and got wrapped up in the stories told and the spectacle of the grandest theatrical stage in the state of New Mexico.
It is a suitable subject for an opera with much potential of triumph and tragedy, heroic tales of loss and gain, life and death, loneliness and romance. All of this is in the opera, but what I missed from La Fanciulla del West was the stand-alone aria–it was an expectation that was never fulfilled.
I can understand that modernity has moved operas further away from actual songs, but with Puccini you kind of expect it. Perhaps it is my own realist mindset that prevented me from accepting the banjo sound coming from he harp; if the harp had been played nearer the sounding board it would have achieved a better banjo quality, but that is not in the score.
Indeed I was immersed by the orchestration and rich harmonies, the moving passages and cumulative build up of emotions that overflow into an overall gorgeous musical experience, but, even with all that–the melodies did not last. As for the production, my only confusion was the use of what appeared to be neon light that outlined the set of the first act, which seemed more modern than the rest of the production’s more historic setting.
The lead role of Minnie, superbly sung by Patricia Racette, captured the hearts of the audience. Minnie is like many of Puccini’s strong, larger than life characters. The story revolves around her and her passion ... and falling in love with someone who is the enemy of the people.
The Opera Orchestra was joyfully conducted by Emmanuel Villaume with great energy and enthusiasm. The direction of the action distracted me at times; most notably a “campy” series of miners with guns running through the climatic scene that culminates in the capture of Minnie’s lover Dick Johnson.
Very little can be done to cover the weaknesses of the libretto and score, but a production can help tell the story more clearly and focus the audience on the story line. However, some basic questions still arise: why is this American story presented in Italian? And no one could have predicted the unfortunate character named Dick Johnson, and by the rippling snickers in the audience just proves that everyone has a dirty mind.
Overall I am glad that I attended this opera, and would see it again, maybe just to clarify some of those things that I missed the first time.
Vanessa, by Samuel Barber, has a strong modern sound associated with Barber’s serious scores, although those most familiar with the celebrated Adagio for String, will find little of that here.
The story is about a very dysfunctional family following a huge 20-year gap and the expected arrival of a former lover, but the lover who arrives is not the one who is expected. This score won Barber a Pulitzer Prize in 1958 and the Santa Fe Opera presented it as the refined work of art that it is.
The production values of Vanessa were unified throughout, every detail fit perfectly with every other creative aspect. High praise to all involved: Scenic Designer Allen Moyer, Costume Designer James Schuette, Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind, Choreographer Seán Curran and Chorus Master Susanne Sheston.
The musical score and orchestration culminate in some of the most beautiful of music of the modern 20th Century. The grand ball is choreographed with the dancers briefly spilling over onto the stage like we are missing the party because our focus is behind the scenes–unraveling the story of Erika (Virginie Verrez), Vanessa (Erin Wall), and Anatol (Zach Borichesky). Now, many days later I feel as though I am still in the musical world of Barber’s Vanessa.
The Orchestra was meticulously conducted by Leonard Slatkin, and I very impressed and surprised by the wonderful libretto was by Gian-Carlo Menotti, a composer as well as a friend of Samuel Barber.
The Santa Fe Opera is the premiere opera house of our region and attracts audiences from around the world. Its reputation is built on quality work and I look forward to many more years of attending productions at this grand opera company.
As a composer, Daniel Davis explores melodic, linear and contrapuntal textures that incorporate elements of disparate forms including folk music, minimalism, micro-compositional techniques and tonality all wrapped up in an accessible style. His works draw from a deep well of his spiritual life and frequently depict his personal experiences and dreams. He makes his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he is a teacher of introductory courses in music at UNM and CNM. He grew up in Wenatchee, Washington, receiving his music education at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Albuquerque Museum Archives / CC BY 2.0
Wednesday night at the terminal
By August March [ Wed Aug 24 2016 10:56 PM ]
Because of the power of the interwebz, it's possible to listen to and view parts the jam-packed history of rocanrol music made here in the Duke City.
This is what I found tonight.
King Richard and the Knights were a mid-sixties Burque band fronted by Dick Stewart. Stewart also started one of this town's first record labels, Lance Records. The original guitarist for the outfit was the father of local '90s guitar legend Lewi Longmire (Apricot Jam).
Then there's Cracks in the Sidewalk. After an art-damaged opening sequence featuring Dirt City new wave progenitor Rodger Venue, Cracks take over. Black Maria's Gordy Andersen, Judson Frondorf, Chris Partain, Jez Velazquez and Mike Rose rock the heck out on Channel 27.
Ah, The Drags. Keith Herrera becomes all drums now while Lorca Wood melts into the rhythm and guitarist/crooner C.J. Stritzel dishes on dark dreams.
Unit 7 Drain was a thing in the early aughts. Two of them are currently engaged with a new thing called Shoulder Voices, which is awesome. Note the creeping glam goodness of Little Bobby Tucker seeping through their sound, signaling the future.
Before I turn the terminal over to a very good friend, who, by the way, plans on rocking nothing but the Smiths, Clan of Xymox and DJ Shadow for the next six hours (she's on fleek), here's the highlight of tonight's outing.
Here is a totally awesome new video by Chicharra, a masterfully multi-layered insect glam ensemble from right here in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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