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Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Good news for good news lovers

King Tuff's Was Dead album was one of my favorites of 2013. Though it came out years ago, fan fervor over the original recordings made him reissue it last year, and rightfully so. It's a fantastic record. Now Tuff is gearing up to release another LP (Black Moon Spell), and he's giving a taste of what it'll entail with the album track “Eyes of the Muse.” That should tide you over 'til Sept. 23, but I'm sure he'll release more previews between then and now. Here's hoping.

I've always liked Usher ... well, mostly. I've lost touch with a lot of his recent work, but “Confessions Part II,” “Nice and Slow” and “Yeah” are some good songs to dance, reflect or get in the mood to. Whatever your preference, the man knows what he's doing. Now Usher has made a track available that was produced by Pharrell and features Nicki Minaj. The slick, club-happy number will definitely be a crowdpleaser. Head to Hip-Hop Wired to hear it.

Coldplay and Cat Power? I'm sure some could have predicted it … probably not. Cat Power is ... well ... Cat Power. And Coldplay used to be good. Regardless, it's an interesting combination any way you squeeze it, and the song they've concocted together (written by Coldplay's Chris Martin, sung by Chan Marshall) is a contemplative little number. The track “Wish I Was Here” was written and recorded for Zach Braff's upcoming film of the same name. How that'll go is an entirely different thing. But check out the song below.

There's always dissension when a legendary rock group announces they've recorded new material. Some say it's going to be awful. Some say it's a new era, a new sound. Whatever your views, that still doesn't stop it from happening. Take Pink Floyd for instance. The group is coming out with a new record (The Endless River) in October, and according to the band's website, it's “an album of mainly ambient and instrumental music based on the 1993/4 Division Bell sessions which feature David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.” So keep an eye out for that one … or don't … I mean I might not even remember … I probably will though.

I mentioned a few weeks back that Christopher Owens (former frontman from Girls) was coming out with his second solo album. Well, that's still happening. The record (A New Testament) hits the music-sphere on Sept. 30. And Owens shared a snippet in the form of “Nothing More Than Everything to Me,” which you can view below.

It's happening. Beck is going to release a new album titled Song Reader. I know, I know, he already came out with a record called Song Reader (though it was a release of sheet music, made to be interpreted by skilled musicians). But Beck is going to release actual recordings of those songs, and each track is going to be done by a different artist. Among them are Laura Marling, Jack Black, Jarvis Cocker, Jack White and much more. Head to Pitchfork to get more deets on that. Oh, and it drops on July 29, which is hella soon!

Audio/Visual

Like most, I became familiar with The Vines at the turn of the millennium when they graced us with “Get Free.” Anyone else remember the Hives vs. Vines battle during MTV's Music Awards? Them's were the days. The band has been steadily releasing albums over the past decade, though none have found their way on my radar. Now, they're coming out with a new double LP (Wicked Nature). They're self-releasing it via PledgeMusic where fans donate funds and get free downloads of some of the album's tracks. So there ya go. Not sure when the record is coming out, but you can watch the video for their new song “Metal Zone” below.

Out the left hangar

Taylor Swift is a writer? Well, duh, I know she writes her own songs, but an editorial? And for the Wall Street Journal? The country-pop sensation wrote a piece on the future of the music industry, speculating on where music will be in 30 or 40 years. Swift describes herself at the beginning of the piece as an “enthusiastic optimist.” (Go figure.) She does say some insightful things here and there, and whether you agree with her assertions, it's not as if she's the be-all-end-all authority on music entirely. But if you want her perspective, it's not a terrible read. See what she has to say here.

Fans of Death Proof are no strangers to Mary Elizabeth Winstead (you know, the one who was dressed like a cheerleader in the second half). 'Member the scene where she sits in the car and sings a lovely cover of Smith's “Baby It's You”? Good times. Well Winstead and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura have a music project together (Got A Girl), and they're getting ready to release a record on July 22. To give people a preview, they've made the track “There's a Revolution” available. Listen to the retro pop ditty below.

There are still moments when I get tears in my eyes at the thought that I will never see The White Stripes live in person. I think back to moments when I could have seen them had I driven 3 1/2 hours, changed highways, snacked on goodies, all while playing all six of their fantastic albums in chronological order. That is slightly remedied with the release of a live White Stripes album (Live Under the Lights of the Rising Sun). No release date on it yet, but the record will have 31 tracks, and it's taken from their first tour in Japan in 2000. So it'll probably have some good early stuff. Head to NME to read more 'bout it.

Samantha Anne Carrillo

music

Now Hear This, Vol. II

Are you properly caring for your inner goth? My years of rockin' an all-black wardrobe, a Wite-Out complexion and panda eyes may be over, but I take care to nourish my blackety-black heart and sonic sensibility. If you're feeling the urge to chainsmoke clove cigs, brood and write bad poetry, I recommend channeling that energy into a celebration of Dark Entries Records' fifth anniversary.

DJ Josh Cheon founded the label in July 2009 with the intention of releasing out-of-print and unreleased underground '80s treasures. Named for the first 7-inch released by goth icon Bauhaus, Dark Entries' focus is curation, preserving sound quality and respecting its artists' aural aesthetic . And, yes, the label's output is strictly vinyl.

Dark Entries' lifeblood is the excavation, quality reproduction and distribution of largely unknown pleasures, but it also showcases contemporary acts whose sound harkens back to the heyday of minimal synth, coldwave, dark wave, electro, Italo disco and post-punk. Highlights of the Dark Entries catalog include work by Dark Day, Jeff and Jane Hudson, Starter, Linea Aspera, Kitchen & the Plastic Spoons, Algebra Suicide, Los Microwaves, Patrick Cowley, Victrola, Lè Travo, Crash Course in Science, Lassigue Bendthaus, Cute Heels and Helen.

"If only for the old times," reminisce and peer into the future by exposing your dark side to Dark Entries.

Zola Jesus' new track "Dangerous Days" is a modern-sounding electro-pop banger.

music

Now Hear This, Vol. I

Welcome to the first installment of "Now Hear This," a column to chronicle my obsessive-compulsive sonic studies, archaelogical and futurist alike. And while here with me, expect everything from old and alt.country to rocanrol to dark wave to Italo disco to queercore to punk to riot grrrl to noise to minimal synth and everywhere in between ... Except smooth jazz, (most) contemporary country and reggae. They just don't do it for me. As they say—who are they, anyway?—there's no accounting for taste.

I embrace that motto and am wholly dependent on my musical addiction to transcend the banality of everyday life. Don't get me wrong. I really dig my life. Getting to collaborate with and work alongside an uber-talented editorial staff and freelancers every day is, like, the dream. But sometimes you simply have to hear something new or unfamiliar that excites and challenges you. This column will serve as complement to my colleague Mark Lopez' wide-ranging Rooster Roundabout series.

My soundscape and its population, past and present, have benefited from the hive mind of many wonderful humans, ranging from my vinyl historian pal Mike Harper in Huntsville, Tex., who first exposed me to the music nerd bug;

to synth/post-punk/ industrial maven and Systems of Romance curator Frankie Teardrop, also of cold wave/post-punk band The Harrow;

to Dirt City denizen Derek Caterwaul, notably of KUNM Radio and Low Life at Blackbird Buvette, who remains one of my favorite DJs after more than a decade of listening to his Music to Soothe the Savage Beast and Overnight Freeform shows;

to Burqueña Tahnee Udero aka DJ Tahnee, whose massive knowledge base is supplanted by exquisite taste, and her solo project TAHNZZ garnered serious listmas praise in 2013;

to Mello Sanchez aka DJ Mello, an uber-talented DJ and pastry chef and one of my best friends;

to northerly neighbor Lorrie Edmonds, curator of I Will Not Return Your Records, which I can safely say is one of the best radio shows on the planet.

So this is a shout-out to all y'all strange, kindred music nerds, both the ones I know and the ones I haven't met yet.

John Gorka
John Gorka

music

Acoustic Performer John Gorka Graces Duke City

Singer/songwriter John Gorka delivered two highly spirited sets at the Summer Nights series at the BioPark (903 10th Street SW) on Thursday, June 19. The Minnesota-based veteran touring artist wowed longtime fans and won over countless Albuquerque music lovers who were new to his signature mix of deep and clever vocals, guitar and comedic storytelling.

Gorka opened with originals from his latest release, The Bright Side of Down, and continued to sample the collection to great effect throughout the evening. Gorka is nothing if not precise, personal and universal, sometimes all in the same lyric. This ability combined with masterful musicianship across genres including folk, blues, pop, rock, bluegrass and rockabilly makes him a worthy companion for an evening ... or a lifetime. This reviewer has seen him in concert over 20 times. Many of those performances have been in festival settings, as Gorka is a highly sought-after act on the vital, enduring national folk fest circuit. At the BioPark concert, he joked about visiting Scandinavia, a hotbed of singer/songwriter and folk fandom.

Gorka's catalog is extensive, and he plumbed its depths in concert. Selections included chestnuts like “I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair,” “I’m From New Jersey,” “Branching Out” and “Love is Our Cross to Bear.” The modern-day Renaissance man wove requests and selective orchestrated sing-alongs to engage the receptive crowd on the lawn that beautiful night. Many in the audience were obviously longtime followers. And they, along with the newcomers, were rewarded with a varied and holistic representation of the showman’s talent.

In stark contrast to the awkward egotism displayed by Marc Cohn the week prior at Zoo Music, Gorka paid our fair city a compliment during the second set. He praised the enthusiastic audience, noting that he wished all his shows could be like this, in “this corner of paradise.” The key to delivering such a line lies in simplicity and sincerity, and Gorka radiated both.

John Gorka is a deft master of the folk trifecta: penetrating lyrics, unparalleled musicianship and compelling storytelling. When he opened and finished his tunes at the BioPark, he wasn't greeted with mere applause: We’re talking yelps, yoo-hoo's, squeals of joy and all-around exuberant acknowledgment of this well-traveled troubadour.

Dear John, please come back soon and stay longer.

music

Pick of the Litter: Blackbird hosts The Manxx

According to lore of The Manxx, singer and guitarist Sara Belle threw academic aspirations out the window to make rock and roll her one and only vocation. She made the right choice. Since then, The Manxx has held fast to its lo-fi trash sound while ripping through a bottomless well of increasingly well-crafted songs about “love and partying.” It's not easy to put polish on punk without losing some of the music's energy. But the band's latest release, Take Away Your Brain, proves the Denver denizens' rock and roll studies haven't been sidelined by all that love and partying. Instead, The Manxx has managed to shine up an apple that remains deliciously rotten to the core. Tonight The Manxx rocks Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW), and the trio's first Albuquerque gig is guaranteed to be a high-energy showcase of danceable garage punk. Aside from the out-of-town awesomeness, other reasons to show up are local hero Marty Crandall (Sad Baby Wolf, ex-The Shins) brand-new power-chord band Award Tour and local surf-rock/punk trio Pool Party. This 21-plus concert kicks off at 10pm, and there's no cover. Blackbird Buvette • Sat Jun 28 • 10pm • FREE • 21+

Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Good news for good news lovers

Man, them Swedish folks sure know how to craft a nice pop tune. This song may have some bubblegum-ness to it, but damn if it ain't catchy. Oh, I'm talking about Icona Pop's new song. In case you're unfamiliar with the Swedish pop duo, they hit it pretty big with their track “I Love It,” and now they've come out with a new tune that might not have the same edge of the aforementioned ditty, but it's for sure gonna snare them some new fans, if not keep the old ones steady until a full-length manifests. Have a listen to “Get Lost” below.

I'm sure there has been talk of this, but I wasn't aware. Aretha Franklin is recording a divas covers album. Ms. Franklin took the time to speak with Billboard about working with Andre 3000 (who is a co-producer on the record), the status of the album (she's “on it”) and named a few songs she's covering. Among them are Adele's “Rollin in the Deep,” Donna Summer's “Last Dance” and Tina Turner's “What's Love Got to Do With It.” Head to Billboard to read what one of the best vocalists ever had to say about what she's working on.

Some electronica-lovin' folks are 'bout to get super-duper excited. Grimes has come out with a new track (apparently her first in two years), and it was originally written to be performed by Rihanna ... who turned it down. So what was Grimes to do? Why, record it herself! The song (titled “Go”) is a lovely, atmospheric tune that's got a banging beat, background yelps and some smooth, slick production, and it also features Blood Diamonds. Have a listen below.

For fans of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, including myself, it's time to get excited: Karen O is coming out with her first solo effort (Crush Songs). Granted, she already recorded solo material with Native Korean Rock & the Fishnets, but that project only released rough demos, which you can still find on YouTube. But this is an actual full-length endeavor, y'all. That drops on Sept. 9, which isn't too far off, so keep scanning those headlines for more info in the coming months.

While I didn't listen to Robert Plant's last solo record (Band of Joy), I was a huge fan of his collaborative LP with Alison Krauss (Raising Sand). That record was phenomenal; all you have to do is listen and hear how their voices meld together to form a sound that can't be replicated, a sound that is pure magic. See “Stick With Me Baby.” Regardless, Plant is coming out with another solo effort, titled lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. That'll hit stores on Sept. 9, and you can have a listen to album track “Rainbow” below.

It's here people! Well, the announcement is here. Julian Casablancas + the Voidz have officially announced their debut record (or Casablancas' second solo record). The album (Tyranny) hits stores and online markets on Sept. 23 and will be sold through Casablancas' Cult Records, where it's on preorder now for the mere cost of $3.87. You read that right. Head over to Rolling Stone to read more about the album.

Get ready for the blasphemy because I'm gonna say it: I've never really listened to Radiohead. And it's not because of any disrespect, but mostly because they just haven't crossed my path as much as most. Wait ... does "Creep" count? Okay, back to the point. Radiohead drummer Philip Selway is coming out with a new solo record. There isn't too much info on the release, other than it's called Weatherhouse and comes out on Oct. 7. So keep an ear out for that.

Oh snap! Prince is back! Well, he never really went away, but you know what I mean. The pop diva (erm ... divo? What's the male term?) has announced another album is on the way (on top of his 3rdEyeGirl record, which still hasn't seen a proper release). Good news? Hell, you're getting two for the price of one, or maybe not the price of one, but you catch my drift, right? As for the album, there's no title or release date, but Prince did name a few tracks: “The Gold Standard” and “This Could Be Us.” Head to Pitchfork to read more ‘bout it.

Audio/Visual

If you've read this column, I'm sure you're tired of witnessing my excitement concerning Veruca Salt's reunion. But hey, it didn't end there, and it won’t end here. The band has now come out with a video to the b-side of their first single, “The Museum of Broken Relationships,” aka “It's Holy.” The video features band footage along with fans listening to the record in the comfort of their own homes. Scroll down a little further to view the little gem.

As Rolling Stone notes, Robin Thicke's new video for the song “Get Her Back” is kind of “awkward.” While I don't indulge in gossip, the track is supposedly a plea to his estranged wife, begging for her to come back. The awkward (and so 2014) parts of the video are the text messages that flash across the screen. I'm not sure if they're real, but either way, it's pretty uncomfortable. But I'll let you decide for yourself. Also, you can pick up the album (titled Paula, yes, after his wife) next week. Enjoy! Or don't.

Music

"Count Me In"

311 kicks off summer tour in Albuquerque

Get ready for a night to remember: The multi-platinum rock band 311 comes to Albuquerque tonight. In fact, this will be their first stop for a seven-week North America summer tour. With influences from hip-hop to funk to ska, there’s plenty to take away from their show.

Stereolithic, their most recent album, has debuted in the top 10 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart and features 15 new songs. It originally dropped on March 11—get it, 3/11?—making it 311 Day, which consisted of the band playing a 66-song, 5-hour set in New Orleans. Definitely a tough show, but by all reports, they held their own.

After more than 25 years, the band has been able to keep and grow its fan base. According to a 2012 interview with 311 vocalist and DJ SA Martinez, "There’s always a younger generation that may not be privy to a lot of musical styles, but I find our audiences constantly changing. ... When we came out in the ’90s, we had a different sound and radio wasn’t initially ready for us."

With that being said, “Count me in” for 311’s Goodwill benefit concert tonight at the Sandia Resort and Casino Amphitheater (30 Rainbow Rd.). Doors open at 7pm and the show kicks off at 8. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or at the Sandia Casino and Resort box office or by calling (800) 745-3000.

Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Audio/Visual

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the band Ought. Normally I don't take advice from people that vouch heavily for Phoenix, but I gave them a listen. And I liked their dissociative, manic sense of how rock is played. It caught my attention quickly. Now, the band has come out with a video for their song “Today More Than Any Other Day,” off their record More Than Any Other Day. The band is also touring, but sadly, no stop in the Duke City. Either way, have a looksie at the vid below.

'Member how I mentioned a while back that Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé were featured on a track (“Say Yes”) on Michelle Williams' upcoming gospel record, making for a pseudo Destiny's Child reunion? Well, fans of Williams and the group can bask in the visual accompaniment of the song in Williams' new video. Go ahead and view that below.

What would Lana Del Rey's videos look like if not seen through an Instagram-filtered scope? Well, they probably wouldn't exist. I know I've written about Del Rey quite a bit in the past couple months, but since her third LP (Ultraviolence) is now out and about, this one will focus on the video for album track “Shades of Cool,” which is one of the better tracks she's put out in anticipation for the record. Watch the colorful proceedings below.

Another artist that's come out with a visual representation of a lofty ditty is the band Arctic Monkeys. The song in question: “Snap Out of It” off their latest LP AM. Is there really anything else to say? Other than you should watch it? I think not.

Good news for good news lovers

I don't know about you, but I'm always up for a good competition. In this case, Mac Demarco, fresh off the release of his latest LP Salad Days, is issuing a “Draw Me” contest. Participants are asked to submit a 7X7 drawing of Demarco to Captured Tracks. And if it wins, it'll be the cover of one of his upcoming 7” series records. The submission deadline is June 27, which is a short time away, so get drawing! You can head to Stereogum for more info and guidelines. Let the games begin!

'Member how I mentioned that a tribute LP to Duran Duran was coming out soon? It's fine if you don't. I talk about a lot of stuff. Regardless, the record (Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran) is ready to hit stores and online markets on July 15, with proceeds benefiting Amnesty International. And to give fans of the band a taste of what the album will sound like (or at least this one track), the song “The Chauffer,” interpreted by Warpaint, is available for listening. Enjoy!

Aphex Twin was another one of those artists that slipped through my fingers. I couldn't even name one song, though I'm sure if you played one, my mind would recall the rhythms, the cadences, the whatnots. But a long-lost album (Caustic Window) from 1994 is finally available for mass consumption, thanks to the efforts of a Kickstarter campaign that provided fans with digital copies of the record. And now it's online, so everyone can partake in the sonic celebration. Head to Pitchfork to give that a listen and to read more 'bout it.

So I mentioned a couple times that a Kickstarted documentary about Elliott Smith was in the works. Heaven Adores You, directed by Nickolas Rossi, debuted last month, but fans now have the opportunity to see the first few minutes—you know, to tide you over 'til the film becomes available in your area. Take a gander at the video below.

Aaliyah's death hit pretty hard. I still remember attending my cousin's quinceanera and seeing coverage on the television set after the party had died down. My jaw dropped. The woman who had sung several of my favorites like “Are You That Somebody” and “Try Again” had passed away in an airplane accident. But lucky for people like me—people that will jump at the opportunity for an homage or a biopic—Lifetime is coming out with a film about the late R&B singer. The film, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, will show some time in the fall, and it stars Zendaya. She's apparently famous from the Disney Channel, so that's probably why I've never heard of her. You can read more about it over at A.V. Club.

Now, we say goodbye.

If you ask most music historians about songwriting, you'll most likely hear them reference the duo that was Goffin & King, or Gerry Goffin and Carole King—the once-married duo who penned fantastic songs like the Everly Brothers' “Crying in the Rain,” the great “Loco-Motion” and The Drifters' “Some Kind of Wonderful,” among others. So it's a sad announcement that Goffin has passed on. He was 75 years old. I'm not sure what the cause of death was, but it's sad nonetheless. So, Goffin, this one's for you ...

Please release me

Here's the thing about Ty Segall. The dude is absolutely relentless. If he's not touring, he's constantly writing and recording. Segall is nothing, if not prolific. Adding to his already expanded catalogue of material, the garage-psych-fuzz wunderkind is gearing up to release a new record this year (Manipulator). And starting in August (well, he's doing one show in June), he's going to tour the shit out of that LP 'til the end of the year. The album drops on Aug. 26, but you can head over to NME for tour dates, tracklisting and whatnot. Also, you can view an album teaser below. Enjoy ...

Even though I don't consider myself a fan of The New Pornographers, I did have the privilege to interview band member A.C. Newman for my college paper. He proved to be kind and thoroughly interesting, which is basically all you want out of an interview. So it's nice to see the band still going strong. At least strong enough that they're coming out with a new record (Brill Bruisers) Aug. 26, and to give people a taste of what that LP will entail, they've made an album track available. So to hear that, and to read more info on said record, head over to Billboard.

Spoon was one of those rock bands that completely went over my head. But living in Austin, Texas, it was hard not to hear about them. Upon getting the chance to see them at ACL a few years back, I opted to see Gnarls Barkley instead, and I've never regretted it. Now the Texan group are releasing a new record (They Want My Soul), and they've shared a snippet in the form of the song “Rent I Pay,” which you can hear below via an unofficial video. Don't know if officiality is a priority to you, but there you have it. As for the release date: Buy it on Aug. 5.

Like most people, my only tidbit of knowledge surrounding Kimbra was her guest vox on the hit track “Somebody That I Used to Know,” as made famous by the probably-über-rich Gotye. But Kimbra has her own solo career, her own songs, her own identity, y'all. And if you haven't listened to her yet, her upcoming record (The Golden Echo) might be a good place to start. Some guest musicians include Van Dyke Parks (!), Omar Rodríguez López (from now-defunct Mars Volta) and John Legend, among others. That drops Aug. 19, but for more deets, head over to Pitchfork.

Here's another new album to look forward to, folks: It's Weezer's upcoming record Everything Will be Alright in the End. Produced by the Cars' Ric Ocasek, no release date has been announced. But what does that matter? You should just get excited that the group is coming out with some new material. View an album teaser below.

Former Burqueño Willis Earl Beal has decided to leave XL Recordings. In an interview with Under the Radar, Beal basically said the direction he's going and the direction of the label were like two separate roads, one road wandering toward a more “trendy” atmosphere, while he wants his music to walk the road less traveled, to be its own entity. Mind you, those are my interpretations, not actual pieces of the interview. But he's coming out with a new record (Experiments in Time) on Aug. 8, and that will be released independently. Read more about it here.

Good news for good news lovers

A friend of mine introduced me to the song “Ferris Wheel” by Possessed By Paul James years ago. And that's really the only thing I've heard, and the only thing I've ever cared about when his name is brought up. It's beautiful. It's heartbreaking. It's songwriting at its finest. And Konrad Wert, the man behind the moniker, is playing Low Spirits on Wednesday, June 25. And why am I so jazzed about this? Because I'll get to hear this song from the man himself. From his own lips. Listen to that below, and see why it's essential for me to attend this concert.

It's no secret that punk bands haven't exactly been chart-toppers. I mean, isn't that one of the requirements of being a successful punk band … no success? So it's a nice fact that the Ramones first record, their classic self-titled opus that carried a soaring energy, a gritty, yet upbeat mentality and a fun dynamic, has been certified gold after 38 years. That's right, they're officially über-famous. Not just famous. Congratulations dudes.

It's happening, motherfuckers! There'd been some talk about The Unicorns reforming, but that's all it was: talk. Now the band has confirmed that they are, in fact, reuniting, and not just that: They're also going to open for Arcade Fire for a few shows. The band has no touring or recording plans yet, but I’m sure new material will probably trickle out within the next year or so. One can only hope. Listen to my favorite Unicorns track below.

For all of you nostalgic folks who are still in the know (or would like to be) about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys ... it looks like he's working on some new material. And some folks that might get featured on the record include Lana Del Rey, Frank Ocean and Zooey Deschanel. A lot of this is speculation, so fingers crossed that these assumptions bear fruit. Ya dig? Head over to Stereogum to read more about it.

Photo by Nicole Chapman

Music

Windy Good Times at the ABQ Folk Festival

“A Little a’ This ‘n’ That”

As lovers of folk music and a novice musicians, it was a treat to finally attend this year's ABQ Folk Festival. Though it's been a Duke City summer staple for well over a decade, this year's festival was particularly special, as the event featured a tribute to the late, great Pete Seeger, one of the most notable American folk singers; he passed away earlier this year. The festival kicked off with the AFF Benefit Concert featuring Claire Lynch with opening band, Holy Water and Whiskey.

The event, which took place at the Balloon Fiesta Park, was well-organized with the help of volunteers. Free parking and camping gave the event a community feel, as did the music and dance workshops, art, food, petting zoo, etc. In addition to a variety of different local and national folk acts, the Band Scramble Competition offered the opportunity for musicians from different groups to play together for the first time. Temporary groups formed through a lottery system with just 50 minutes to prepare for a six-minute performance in front of a panel of judges.

Square dance lessons, storytelling, and poetry gave the festival a quality of authenticity that would have made Pete proud and, after prizes were handed out for the Scramble, the tribute to Seeger was quickly in full swing. “For Pete’s Sake” consisted of fervent musicians and fans belting out a myriad of Pete's tunes on and off stage in the spirit of true unity; a proper send-off, indeed.

As we concluded the tribute with our rendition of “Blowing in the Wind,” nature took us a little too literally. Tent pegs were no match for the dusty New Mexico gusts that sent the canvas sailing. The Fire Marshall quickly hammered out danger by moving the festivities indoors. As festival goers continued dancing inside the Balloon Fiesta Museum and the sun was setting, it seemed that the legendary Ramblin' Jack Elliott would not be closing the night. Much to our surprise, not only did he make an appearance, he was cordial and kind, warming us with stories of travel and inspiration. Strangers became friends and friends became family and, as Ramblin' Jack departed for Austin, we were reminded that to every thing, there is a season, and that we would all be eagerly awaiting next year’s Folk Festival. Thank you Albuquerque, thank you Pete, and thank you, Ramblin' Jack!


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Low Life Happy Hour
Low Life Happy Hour11.28.2014