It's official: The New Mexico Showcase is toast. Last week, I reported that a conversation with NM Showcase mastermind Michael Feferman had revealed that the showcase was on indefinite hold while he works on his master's degree in Austin, Texas. Two days after the issue hit the stands, I got an e-mail from Feferman saying the event had been officially retired. During its three-year run, the NM Showcase hosted upward of 100 local bands at venues all over the state. Kudos to Michael Feferman and everyone else who made the event possible. ... The 16th Annual Folk Alliance Conference is scheduled for Feb. 26-29 in San Diego, Calif. Registration is now open. Folk Alliance members get the whole enchilada—concerts, workshops, panel discussions, etc.—for a cool $480. Non-members will pay $560. Visit www.folk.org to register or for more information. ... The Sweat Band have changed their name to The Foxx. Bad idea. But that's just my opinion. I've never supported band name changes unless key members leave, the music or image changes significantly and/or the new name is monumentally better than the old one. Besides, why erase all the name recognition and buzz you've worked so hard to create? ... Jazz fans rejoice! The Outpost Performance Space will kick off its 2004 spring season on Saturday, Feb. 21, with two shows by incomparable singer Cassandra Wilson at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 general, $30 Outpost members and I predict a quick sellout, so get 'em now at the Bookstop (268-8898) or the Outpost (268-0044).
Tuesday, Feb. 3; Popejoy Hall (all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Even the most gifted artistic genius, it is believed, will one day find his or her well run dry. The technique and desire remain, but there comes a time when all such artists must accept that their creative spark has burned out, right? Don't be so sure. Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, regarded the world over as the master of that particular art, is one of the rare ones: a brilliant musician who continues to move forward in spite of conventional thinking.
De Lucia's latest release, Cositas Buenas (Verve), is proof positive. Here, de Lucia eschews several signatures associated with previous masterworks in exchange for a more deeply personal approach that is affecting in an entirely new way. Gone is the sextet with whom de Lucia has recorded and toured for the past decade. What remains for the most part is de Lucia himself, and his guitar. His astonishing technique remains intact, as do his trademark bold explorations. But other than a couple of guest vocalists and palmas (handclaps), Cositas Buenas is a revealing musical excursion by a rare genius.
Friday, Jan. 30; El Rey Theater (21 and over, 8 p.m.): When it comes to rock 'n' roll, Bo knows, well ... just about everything. In some respects, Bo Diddley is rock 'n' roll, or at least what it originally was. The 76-year-old guitar slinger from McComb, Miss., along with Chuck Berry, Little Richard and a few select others, had a big hand in developing the sound that would change the way the world listened to music. For his efforts, Diddley has maintained celebrity-hood for more than four decades and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Wednesday, Feb 4; The Paramount (Santa Fe, 21 and over, 8:30 p.m.): To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure exactly how this tour is working. I can't seem to get confirmation on whether David Lowery and the other members of Camper Van Beethoven will perform CVB songs or David Lowery and the other members of Cracker will perform CVB songs, and then perform as Cracker. Either way, you should plan to catch this show based solely on the fact that Lowery is a songwriting genius whose got more cynicism and lyrical flair in his little finger than most of us have in our entire bodies.
Guitarist Robert Randolph kicks ass in a Jeff Healy kind of way. His main axe is the pedal steel, from which he's able to coax chordal passages that sound as if they're coming from a Telecaster and solos that, like Healy's ghostly slide work, are more articulate than those you've come to expect from guys with only six strings to deal with. Randolph doesn't create all his magic on the pedal steel, but what he's able to do on the instrument is otherworldly. This, his second record, is cohesive, energetic and jaw-droppingly superlative in terms of songwriting and performance.