Sunday, Nov 27: Christmas Is A Funny Thing
In Review: Darlingside
An awesome Americana ensemble
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.
In Review: Peter Mulvey
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.
Run to this Show!
Saturday, Sep 10: Don't Run Away
Music to Your Ears
The West is the best, from post-punk to yeehaw, destroy what destroys you and improv rumbles Roost
The West is the best
The Handsome Family’s Americana Gothic
Talking metaphor, Wilderness and Custer’s corpse
Resonating at a Higher Frequency
Hector Peña crafts conduits for mojo
The Daily Word in early voting, virgin birth, and the Yeti genome project
Saturday evening edition
Like a virgin. Birth.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry's statement on the recent excessive force/tasering incident involving APD.
Update on the search for Amelia Earhart's plane.
Steve Terrell outlines who is spending what in the Heinrich/Wilson Senate race.
Insane Clown Posse on CNN, explaining pretty much everything.
Early voting in some states is no longer an option.
Update on the Moors Murders.
I'm going to refer to this next time my office computer throws a rod.
On this day in 1952 Patrick Swayze was born. Go to 15:15 in the video and ignore Sebastian Bach.
Flyer on the Wall
This tea-stained flyer announces the Friday, July 27 performances of a trio of local Americana favorites: The Porter Draw, Joe West and The Saltine Ramblers. The show happens at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) at 9 p.m.—admission is $5. (JCC)
Folky Friday the 13th
Observe this superstitiously spooky Friday with a collection of Americana acts at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW). Cali Shaw, Wildewood, Todd and the Fox, and Jenny Wren form the local lineup. Admission is $5, and the show starts at 9 p.m. (JCC)
Reflections on the Aztec Motel a year after its demolition
The third of three pieces about the life and death of the famed, doomed Aztec Motel, demolished in June 2011.
Albuquerque rose to prominence among New Mexico towns for myriad reasons: access to the Rio Grande, its location on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (the Royal Road to the Interior), the acquisition of the railroads in the 19th century and an Air Force base in 20th century.
Route 66 tourism also helped the city grow in the last century. One of the oldest landmarks of that era was the Aztec Motel, located on Central Avenue in Upper Nob Hill. A year ago it was demolished, the owner claiming its restoration would cost too much money. The neon sign still stands (among preservationists there are discussions about nominating Nob Hill’s neon for historic designation). Although shops and condos were proposed for development in its place, the dirt lot next to the 7-Eleven where the motel once stood remains empty.
There were, and still are, mixed feelings about the property, a repository of folk art that oozed character. Those that understood it to be a landmark—the nostalgic and history buff types—tend to lament its absence. The less sentimental (such as a friend who owns a home near the site and wrote, “if you miss it so much I can come over to your house and throw trash and bottles on your lawn”) seem to celebrate the removal of the old Route 66 motels. Some call for saving the neon, and removing the buildings.
As we mover further from that mid-century golden age where these places resided, and as the properties fall further into disrepair, there will be more reflection on their value. Younger generations will likely be more captivated by them than older generations. At the same time, the environmentally-
“The Aztec,” a 2001 film documenting life at the motel
Cinéma vérité on Route 66
The second of three pieces about the life and death of the famed, doomed Aztec Motel.
In 2001, then-Alibi-art-director Kirsten Browne collaborated with former NuCity photographer Jennifer Lipow and UNM Internal Medicine Resident Steve Pergam to shoot and edit a 10-minute film which featured interviews with Aztec resident Phyllis Evans and owner Mohamed Natha. “The Aztec” won for best documentary in the Flicks on 66 Wild West Digital Shootout competition and hasn’t been seen for 10 years.
Jen and I made this film for Flicks on 66. We could've picked ANYTHING to shoot a film about. It wasn't my idea to shoot the Aztec and its people—I was a bit intimidated, but Jen was all bitchin' and NYC about it, so three made a team. (At around the same time we did the feature in the Alibi, "Motel Hell," where Noah Masterson stayed a night in a bunch of Route 66 motels. It wasn't your typical sponsored travel story—they all must've been glorious once.)
We didn't have a plan for the film because we didn't know what would happen there or who lived/stayed there. We just knocked on the office door and asked. Phyllis and Mohamed were happy for the audience. And proud of their incarnation of the Aztec. All Jen and I went in with was an agreement to ask questions and stay out of shot so we could be edited out. We didn't need many questions, things just happened.
We won our section of Flicks. And came away with way more than we expected. I lived in Albuquerque for six years (I'll be back!). Now, back in New Zealand for eight years, that experience sticks out for me like climbing Cabezon or Old Town at Xmas. It was a worthy use of time (more so than fluffing round the kids' section of Old Navy or reading magazines with a latte in the Flying Star).
Visions of the Aztec: A demolition gallery
Marking the one-year anniversary of the death of the iconic Route 66 motel
The first of three pieces documenting the life and death of the famed, doomed Aztec Motel.
It was one year ago this week that punk rock print maestro Patrick Shorty documented the Aztec Motel’s demolition.
By most accounts, the Aztec was the oldest surviving motel in New Mexico—it was six years older than the El Vado, which the city designated as a landmark site and spared from development a few years back.
The hodgepodge of paintings, bottles, tile, pottery and tchotchkes that positively bloomed off the stucco was painstakingly installed by Phyllis Evans in the ’90s. She was a professor at Michigan State University who sometimes lived at the motel and treated it like a retirement project.
I’d like to point out that the Aztec is renowned (everywhere but here, it turns out) as a folk art heritage site. It’s featured in art books and tons of websites, and it a was a priority stop on Larry Harris’ Orange Show Eyeopener Tour, a roving event that hits important regional folk-art environment landmarks.
Many thanks to Shorty for sharing.