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.
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.
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.
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.
The Gold Rush of 1849-50 is one of the great American stories where many present day westerners, including myself, have ancestors that got caught up in that frenzy.
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.
Here is one way to spend part of this evening.
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.
In case you hadn’t heard, two of your favorite indie music boys are teaming up for an album. Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen and Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Discovery (and also of everything else. Dude’s been productive.) have released two singles from an upcoming album titled I Had a Dream That You Were Mine.
“A 1000 Times” (video above) is upbeat: all twinkly pianos and major chord guitar plucking. Lyrically it’s a bit more somber, following Leithauser as he reminisces and regrets on a late-night walk: “Oh tender November/the year’s almost over/if I had your number/I’d call you tomorrow.” His crooning voice quickly shifts into his throat-scratching falsetto howl. When this guy switches octaves, he does it with a vengeance.
“In a Black Out” sounds more like a Walkmen song: there’s distant-sounding guitar picking and little other accompaniment until some spare drums come in over halfway through. Here Leithauser’s voice stays restrained — he’s in Frank Sinatra mode.
The two tracks bode well for this album and this collaboration. Both artists have already said nice things about the record and about working with each other: on Twitter, Rostam said “If it sounds like we had fun making this record it’s cos we did.”
Just two days ago, Rostam premiered two new songs on KCRW radio, where he DJed a special set. The two songs are called “Gwan” and “Sick as a Dog” — the latter features Leithauser, though it’s unclear if this track will be on the new album. You can listen to that DJ set here via Stereogum.
Look for I Had a Dream That You Were Mine out 9/23.
Head on downtown to take advantage of the amazingly audacious variety of live music happening in clubs on Central between First Street and Sixth Street tonight!
There's plenty of action from rap to rock and beyond, but these are the two events that caught my attention.
The Co-Op (415 Central NW) presents a concert by students from the School of Rock. Albuquerque SOR operator Robert Montoya told Weekly Alibi this show features School of Rock students from all over the planet, saying, "There are seven different touring groups that are starting in different cities around the country. Team Five Touring Group had their dress rehearsal at the Co-Op on Friday and will play a full show along with our ABQ School of Rock House Band to kick off their tour! They play Denver and Red Rocks next, then Omaha, Neb. and DeKalb, Kansas before ending up at Lollapalooza in Chicago on July 28."
The SOR Tour kicks off at 6pm at the Co-Op, Tickets cost $10 online or at the door. All ages are welcome.
After you've caught a glimpse of the next generation, troop your rocked out form over to Launchpad (618 Central SW) to check out one of the premier, genre-defining bands of this age. In case you wanna know, they are called Wavves and they are from Califas. Totally worth it, totally talented and totally kings of the beach.
It will cost $17 to interact with this beachy slice of the California Republic and members of the public over the age of 13 are invited to do so. Doors are at 8pm; the gig's at 9pm.
"Raise the window down" – a comment heard from the stage, refering to the kinfolk of recording artist Robyn Ludwick, from Lake Charles, Louisiana.
It was 3 p.m. in Taos, when a thousand post-hippie people gathered for three days for the 2nd Annual Music on the Mesa Festival at Taos Mesa Brewery.
I can’t go any further without expanding on the merits of the venue. TMB produces outstanding, hand-crafted beer in both quality and variety. I was on a roll with their Equinox IPA, offered alongside a Session beer, several ales, Pale and otherwise, their own Kolsch style, Amber, Hefewizen and more. The venue also serves excellent, regionally influenced food: Smoked Mahi, Mahi fish tacos, roasted beet salad and dynamite brats and burgers.
The setting is one of the most spectacular music venues I’ve visited in 43 years of festival going. It ranks right behind Red Rocks Amphitheater and the Pagosa Springs Four Corners Festival.
We were on the West Mesa just north of Taos and minutes from the Rio Grande Gorge within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The deep gorge cutting into the high desert offers breathtaking views. So it’s like placing a music festival inside a National Park. All this is also minutes from the regionally famed Taos Earthship residential communities.
We visited my old college buddy Marko and his Earthship home that morning before making our way to day three of the Fest. This Earthship is the real thing; artfully built based upon environmentally forward principles and methods. it is placed partially within the earth; utilizes solar heating, re-uses rainwater off the roof and stored in cisterns; is made with numerous upcycled materials including glass bottles, cans, tires and wood from previous eras of furniture.
The vibe at the Fest is a macro-extension of this northern New Mexico counter culture. We recognized folks from our similarly alt-America suburb of Albuquerque, Corrales, N.M., while our friends here ran into their peeps from the architectural and textile design mini-verse that identifies much of New Mexican culture.
The long white hairs and the grey hairs mix easily with the 20- and 30-somethings who diligently follow the musical genres featured here: Rockabilly and Western Swing, a little bluegrass, Singer-Songwriter, Alt-Country, Americana, and smoking Country Rock.
Steve Plyler, founder of Walking Rain Productions, hand picks each act beginning a year out with his team of insiders. The festival is faithful to previous performers who played at the inaugural event last year. The following artists were on last year as well as this year’s bill: Kelly Mickwee, Grace Askew, Band of Heathens, Far West, Sammy Brue, Robyn Ludwick,
This year we were both fortunate and blessed to have as headliners Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle for the final night. These two veterans of the road are notable for their enduring creativity and stick-with-it-ness that characterizes not only their act but their lives.
Across the concert venue were scattered vendors and sponsors. A sleek Airstream trailer featured fine wine and foretells of an Airstream and RV Motel park that will soon open across the highway from the Taos Mesa Brewery.
A fresh juice and smoothie bar, built into half a vintage car was a real thirst-quenching hotspot. And, of course, the well stocked Merch Tent beckons.
The Main Stage beneath the amphitheater is front and center, with the Patio and Indoor Stages serving shorter acts between set-ups. We heard thevenerable Ray Wylie Hubbard ("Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother"), a Texas legend, followed by Colvin and Earle.
We sat in the high desert, 7000 feet in the atmosphere, listening to and anticipating dexterous music meant to revive, inform and inspire those who have been fortunate enough to have made it to the Mesa. Join in next year: You are Welcome, You are Invited.
Often cited as the father of minimalism, he was derided by teachers and critics of his time. Like many who make great strides in their creative field, would go on to influence contemporaries, if at all, only late in life. Now his compositions are nearly inescapable. Take a moment to remember him and his contribution to expressing our human condition—a delicate hope that hides itself beneath a deep melancholy.