Outsider Art Thrives in Shiprock
Indie/electro/punk fest as Native soundtrack
In the Land of Enchantment, far-flung music festivals are one of the perks of living here. If you fancy a drive, it’s a boon; after all, the farther away and/or more mythically inaccessible an event appears, the greater the yield in kickass rock concert experience cred.
Rockabilly on the Route fits the bill. Tucumcari has its own interstate exit out there near the edge of Texas. This year’s iteration featured bands from as far as Norway and as close as Burque. Involved country and rock and roll groups kicked out the jams, more than justifying the sun-drenched, three-hour ride out from Burque.
That experience ain’t an anomaly either. The Thirsty Ear Festival was held at a movie ranch out in the hills near Santa Fe. In 2003 Gov’t Mule headlined. A crazy folk-punk group called Mary and Mars wowed attendees after dark. Some folks camped out in a fruit orchard up the road; others retreated to the capital city and booked stays in adobe-themed hotels.
Then there was 3 Sided Whole. Once upon a time, this Burning Man-like intentional community groovefest was held in the Sandoval County wilderness, where the Rio Puerco ran a trickle and some lucky humans had built a place of shamanic power. Serio. The music and arts fest they held in springtime was sublime ... if you could find it. The years following the millennium through 2004 were halcyon ones here in the high desert, but the festival was revived this year with fine, fiery results.
The next stop on this list happens in Shiprock, a town in the uppermost northwest corner of New Mexico. It’s farther away than the fests referenced above, like three or four hours. But this rez town’s contribution to our musical landscape is significant. The 4th annual Indie/
The heavy lineup is spread over three days from Thursday, Oct. 2, to Saturday, Oct. 4, at The MOD, a concert venue on Highway 64, near the edge of Shiprock, N.M. It reps contemporary work by Native artists from all over the Four Corners, the northern reaches of the Navajo Nation and two outlying cities. Thursday night’s schedule includes sets by Tuba City, Ariz. ripper The Blissins. Death metal ensemble Suicidal Grin, from Newcomb, N.M., headlines the first evening.
Friday begins with the ambient noise pronunciations of PlanTagent CheRokee. The gazed-out gauzy music of Kayenta, Arizona’s Little Dragon Dreams precedes a set by the legendary Bigawatt, and the night reaches for noisy crescendo with Denver’s Curta, Church Fire and Mirror Fears onstage after midnight.
Saturday’s installment starts midafternoon and continues through early Sunday morning. If you’re still coherent after an outrageous weekend, check out sets by rez dance/post-punk advocate DISCOTAYS, San Carlos, Ariz., grrrl punks The Filthy Young and power-pop player End This Year.
Tickets to the 4th annual Indie/
Wanna head to this far-out, fantastic festival? Plan in advance. Always allow for food and lodging challenges when traveling in rural New Mexico. Shiprock is about 250 miles from Albuquerque. To get there, take I-40 west to Gallup, and head north on US Highway 491, past Toadlena, to Shiprock. While you’re there, check out the “winged” rock formation the town is named for. Travel safely and rock on. For more info visit bit.ly/IEPFest2014.