"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.
Kate Bush and Prince collaborated several times. In her digital eulogy of the pop royalty on her website, Bush stated:
I am so sad and shocked to hear the tragic news about Prince. He was the most incredibly talented artist. A man in complete control of his work from writer and musician to producer and director. He was such an inspiration. Playful and mind-blowingly gifted. He was the most inventive and extraordinary live act I've seen. The world has lost someone truly magical. Goodnight dear Prince.
Prince appeared on the track embedded here, "Why Should I Love You" from Bush's 1993 album Red Shoes and, in turn, Bush collaborated with Prince on his album, Emancipation.
Join Albuquerque’s rock and roll community at Sister (407 Central NW) on Saturday, April 23 for the album release party for Votives, a heavy, punk-flavored, ambient-attached shoegaze project. Votives latest release, Trails / Hue begins with a low rumble that ultimately advance toward crashing waves of feedback and guitar badassery.
Joining Votives for this special celebration of all that is rocking will be an Crime Lab, crttrz and Adult Beverage, an outfit fronted by Dillon Cullinan.
Cullinan spoke briefly with the Alibi about his latest undertaking, recalling the many changes Adult Beverage went through as their psychedelic sound took shape.
“By spring 2015 the band had finally found it's ideal configuration with Higinio Martinez on guitar, Zach Leyba on drums, and occasionally Briana Lee on bass. Since 2015 we have played countless house shows and venues in New Mexico. We have played alongside Walter TV (Mac Demarco's live band), Destruction Unit, The Memories, Colleen Green, and LA Witch.
Adult Beverage is currently writing and recording for the first time collaboratively. A new 5 song EP is being recording by Will Byrne of Train Conductor.
Asked to describe their current flavor, Cullinan said, “We've been described as having elements of punk, garage rock, dream-pop, stoner metal, noise rock, and psychedelia.”
The concert, a glimpse into the instrumentally intense and luminously limitless void in these parts, begins at 8pm.
The house was packed last Saturday night for Jake Shimabukuro's concert. It was an intergenerational mix of people; three generations of Albuquerque music lovers came out for the show. There were members of the folk-music community and veterans of the art-music recital scene, families and young people taking in new sounds.
The lighting at Simms Center at the Albuquerque Academy had artistic intent and contributed to the celebratory atmosphere with rich colors. From start to finish, it felt like a flawless performance. I arrived feeling tired and kind of out of it, but left feeling energized and inspired. The artist and his instrument blended so well together. Shimabukuro's ukulele seemed like another arm or the perfect dance partner, attached by life and love.
Shimabukuro played a few experimental tunes that were supposedly dissonant but were still musically enthralling. He followed up with traditional Hawaiian music and thoughtfully interjected three cover tunes, "Come Together," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "While my guitar gently weeps." The George Harrison tune was especially visceral and heartfelt.
Throughout the concert, Shimabukuro used two different instruments, each with different timbres and purposes, blending his instrumental knowledge into each piece he performed.
After each song Shimburakuro and the bass player would fist bump one another, obviously eager and excited to be playing together and for a receptive audience. The stage was very simple, just the two players interacting and focused on the other’s playing. Shimurakuro received two standing ovations at the end of the night; the audience was grateful for such an amazing journey and the musicians seemed thrilled to provide it.
Good news, everyone!
Local electro-wizards REIGHNBEAU (Bryce Hample plus collaborators Hannah Daney, Colleen Johnson, Madeline Johnston and James Sturgis) have been recognized by music magazine Stereogum.
Their new album, Blood, is currently streaming—along with a brief yet well-deserved laudatory review—at a site known for its focus on lo más chingón in current musical forms.
If you dig ecstatic, Burque concert-goers, then tonight, Wednesday February 24, 2016, is your night. The Dirty Bourbon Dance Hall and Saloon (9800 Montgomery NE) hosts a highly listenable show brought to town by forward-looking and far-ranging musical production entity AMP Concerts.
MarchFourth!, a fascinatingly far out, flavorful and funky re-visioning of the American marching band tradition, headlines the event and San Diego Gypsy rockers Diego's Umbrella provides support—albeit it in their own folkified yet punktastic way.
MarchFourth features the talents of 15 musicians and five dancers and acrobats. As a colorful and sometimes cacophonic ensemble, MarchFourth! put a saucy yet postmodern spin on a mainstay of Americana that critics have called sexy, carnivalesque and celebratory. And like all the band geeks you've ever encountered, the marching unit's chops smolder and smother.
Co-conspirators Diego's Umbrella use Eastern European musical conceits mixed up with SoCal punk aesthetics to create a singular musical experience. 18 bucks gets one into this late-winter cosmic carnival; it's a 21+ dealio that begins at 7:30pm.
"Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves." — Stephen Daedalus
Jim Phillips was a musician from Albuquerque. He directed the creative activities of a band called Lousy Robot. When he died unexpectedly last spring, Phillips left behind a body of work notable for defining a fragile, yet brightly expressed nexus of what it means to be human.
Invoking the wide and melodically winsome swath carved out by power-pop adherents like the Easybeats, Big Star, the Cars and Elvis Costello, singer/guitarist Phillips and his ensemble (Ben Wood, keyboards; Joey Gonzales, drums and Dandee Fleming on bass) added intensity and a profound sense of dark realism to their rocanrol stew.
The result included unforgettably haunting recordings like 2011's Hail The Conquering Fool.
This week, Lousy Robot bassist Fleming reached out to Weekly Alibi to tell about a new collection of recordings by Lousy Robot, available at Bandcamp.
Fleming wrote, "Before his death Jim and the band had been working on collecting outtakes and rarities from previous recording sessions in hopes of putting out a collection of weirdness titled Oddities, Obscurities & Obscenities. The work started with a cover of “Dead Flowers” and an iPhone remix of “Peacocks." During this time, I continued to work on remixes on several other songs. After Jim’s death, I found two songs that the group had demoed but never completed. I edited and restructured those songs and sent them to friend and long-time producer John Dufliho to complete.
The result is a work of complex beauty; the circumstances—rendered as music, hopeful and dire—that make up human life.
It is a rare occasion to catch A Hawk and a Hacksaw in their hometown. The duo, composed of accordionist Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost, each of which take an occasional turn on vocals, stay on the move.
Those of us who were lucky enough to make it into the totally packed Tannex in Barelas on Saturday night were treated to music ripe for day dreaming.
In a word, A Hawk and a Hacksaw is magic. Culling folk songs from across many a diaspora as well as writing their own original pieces, the two created a world entirely separate from 4th Street, from Albuquerque, from this continent.
By the light of white Christmas lights strewn across a heavy rug over the cement floor, the two sang in Greek, spoke little, and played for more than an hour with a sustained intensity that is hard to fathom.
This winter, Barnes and Trost are headed to Europe to play alongside full orchestras and busy street corners while further cultivating their inspiring vision of modern folk.
So, in case you missed it, a few weeks ago the band Whirr said some pretty hateful things on Twitter about trans* people and about the band G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit) in particular. Things like “misogyny is hating women. g.l.o.s.s. Is just a bunch of boys running around in panties making shitty music.” In response, their record label dropped them quicker than you can say “transphobia is misogyny, you jerks.” It was one of those rare and gratifying moments of immediate justice being delivered on the internet.
You can listen to G.L.O.S.S.’s EP Demo on their bandcamp. Their queer brand of hardcore is filled with stellar lines like “with lined lips and spiked bats, gonna take femininity back” and “straight America, you will ruin me,” radiating a truly punk ethic of not giving a shit what people think about them.
In the spirit of throwing more light on trans* people in music, here’s a list of five other awesome openly trans* musicians who you should be listening to now. They deserve as much support as they can get—not just because they make good music, but because if we as a society can start not only tolerating but highlighting trans* people in music, then maybe there is hope for us yet.
(Note: below I’ve used the gender pronouns most recently cited as preferred by each artist. If you know better, though, please drop me a line.)
1. Mykki Blanco
Ok, hopefully you already know about Mykki Blanco—if from nothing else, from her 2012 single “Wavvy” that was playing everywhere for a minute. In addition to her short but prolific music career, Blanco has also made a name for herself as an LGBT activist, performance artist and poet, with the release of her 2011 book From the Silence of Duchamp to the Noise of Boys. Go watch all of her music videos, and then listen to Betty Rubble: The Initiation, her album from earlier this year.
Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons has also had a prolific and varied artistic career. A director and artist, Antony also has one of the most haunting voices in contemporary music. The band is known for tear-jerking baroque-pop ballads like “Hope There’s Someone.” Listen to their self-titled debut album of 2000, then check out some of Antony’s art projects, two of which were listed in SFAQ’s list of “The Top 5 Art Shows in New York City Last Year.”
3. Aye Nako
This punk queercore band from Brooklyn just won Village Voice’s “Best Garage Band of 2015” and it’s well deserved—their music is raw and emotional while still melodic and catchy. In their own words, the quartet plays “sad punk songs about being queer, trans, and black.” You can get their latest EP The Blackest Eye here.
4. Mya Byrne
Mya Byrne is a folk musician and songwriter from Boston. She released her first solo EP in 2004, and has been a staple in the New York folk scene since. She played for the band The Ramblers from 2008 to 2014. You can listen to her first solo LP since her transition in 2014, As I Am, on her website.
5. Rae Spoon
Rae Spoon started songwriting and performing in their hometown of Calgary, Alberta, when they were a teenager. Their early music is decidedly down-home folksy, with Spoon playing guitar, banjo and mandolin on albums Throw Some Dirt on Me and Your Trailer Door, but their most recent album My Prairie Home displays some much more slowed-down, orchestral elements. Besides their musical career, Spoon has authored a book of short stories called First Spring Grass Fire, and has collaborated on the book Gender Failure with Ivan E. Coyote.
Sometimes your favorite bands just don't draw a crowd in Albuquerque, for whatever reason, leaving you feeling a bit dispirited about your home town. Thankfully, King Khan & BBQ Show fans didn't stay home last night, though they were a bit tardy, most trickling into Sister during opening band Milk Lines –who played a nice, country-tinged set of psych/rock and roll.
Khan and Mark Sultan (AKA BBQ) came out sans uniforms—to the audible dismay of the packed floor—but it turned out they were simply performing a quick sound check and announced they'd be back after a wardrobe change. And, bam! a nearly naked Khan and a nipple-exposing, body-stockinged BBQ appeared in front of an enthusiastic crowd. The Bad News Boys opened with "Piss Slide", a tune new to me but a concept Khan made Alibi readers familiar with in an interview this week. "Piss Slide, Baby" indeed.
Khan & BBQ proceeded to rock the pants of the crowd for nearly two hours, playing hits like "Waddlin' Around" and "Invisible Girl" with panache and without flaw. Though they didn't play "Animal Party", they did perform one of the sickest tunes in the history of the world, "Taste Buds". Nothing like a crowd singing along to that one. Best show I've seen since Black Lips played Sister. Mark Sultan fairly steals the show with his amazing voice and jiggling nipples, something to be admired considering his partner is one of the more infamous wild-men of contemporary rock and roll. Here's hoping these two make it back to Albuquerque in some capacity, as the King Khan & BBQ Show or with King Khan & The Shrines or BBQ, solo.