Firemen snuffed out the blaze two months ago—Jesus, that happened two months ago—but the air around Downtown is still seeded with whiffs of greasy, black smoke.
It doesn't matter what part of town you're from. The mess the Golden West fire spewed out doesn't stop at the 600 block of Central.
Today, the historical heart for music in Albuquerque has all the verve of a ghost town—right down to the boarded up old saloon. It's a painful caricature of itself. The music scene's physical center is gone, and Albuquerque musicians feel its loss like a phantom limb.
Worse off are the people who work for the Launchpad and Golden West Saloon. They're stuck waiting for their employers to get back on their feet, and no one knows exactly how long that'll take. So now there's this tribe of sound guys, bartenders and bouncers burning through the last orts of their savings. Many are attempting to pick up other jobs where they can. And "attempting" is the key word here. Watching so many competent and qualified people scramble—for the most part, unsuccessfully—for menial work is proof that the "R" word is for real. We're in a recession and it's hurting us.
But if there's a silver lining that's come out if this charred, soggy fiasco, it's that music is a tougher substance than we probably used to think. The Launchpad and Golden West's vacuum has encouraged shows to pop up all over the city in unexpected places. We simply can't take venues for granted any longer. Thank god, the venues are stepping up and proving it to us.
One of those places is Ralli's Fourth Street Pub and Grill. Ralli's has benevolently offered its space Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, to raise funds for displaced Launchpad employees at a weekend-long concert. See this week's "Flyer on the Wall" for the lineups and show information.
On the Golden West side, El Rey Theater's website says the Cinco de Mayo Blues Fest, held at the theater Friday, May 2, is "to benefit Puccini's Golden West Saloon." Since the Saloon's a pile of rubble, I sincerely hope the $20 cover is going to former GW employees. No less than Cadillac Bob, the Albuquerque Blues Connection and The Paul Brodsky Band are playing the 21+ concert.
In case you were wondering where to get those "Launchpad-