As you may recall, I framed last year's lineup list within a structure built from the pithy dialogue found in David Lynch's film Blue Velvet, one of my favorite celluloid gems. This year, I couldn't help but go to my number two cinematic source—another Lynch film called Wild at Heart—for inspiration and structure. In case you want to know, the latter is a story of star-crossed lovers, crazy Texan criminal communities and the effects true love can have on otherwise jaded and out of control human beings hellbent on self-destruction.
That linkage works because Lynch's vision of America is essentially musical in scope. In the film, Sailor Ripley's life is driven by loud music and an unnatural affinity for Elvis; hell even his lover, Lula Fortune, seems to be propelled through their various misadventures by her love of rock music and dancing. The happiness these two ultimately find and keep is symbolized at the end of the film as Sailor sings “Love Me Tender” to Lula and their child.
But you don't need to put up with Bobby Peru's toothsome insanity, Marietta Fortune's red-faced fanaticism or the quirky yet supremely sad citizens of Big Tuna, Texas to get your fill of a substance that can grant a wish of summery happiness and satisfaction. Instead, I suggest you take a gander at the compendium of concerts that follow while keeping in mind Lula's admonition about the world around us. It may be, as she claims, “wild at heart and weird on top,” but live music provides more than an opportunity to dance. It's also an opportunity to bring light and love into your life, to vanquish the darkness with the light of summer ... if only for a fleeting, sunny season.
I dig seeing shows at Sandia as much as private detective Johnnie Farragut detests criminal mastermind Marcelles Santos. The venue has an awesome summer schedule, the seating's generous and accommodating, the concession stand features attractive prices and a wide variety of food and beverages, and there are no crazed voodoo practitioners waiting in the wings to kidnap, drug and kill me. This year's summer lineup includes some great shows too, by the way.
The season at Sandia starts off on May 6 with a performance by Los Lonely Boys, a trio of brotherly Tejano musicos whose hits are based in a sort of brown-eyed soul that has yielded hits and Grammy nominations since their eponymous debut recording was released in 2004.
On May 28, Sandia hosts the annuals ABQ Blues & Brews Festival. This year's headliners include some tasty beers provided by literally dozens of local, regional and national breweries, buoyed by acts like local and regional bluesmen Isaac Aragon and The Healing, Alex Maryol, The Jir Project and The Rudy Boy Experiment.
The rest of the season at Sandia is totally tuneful too, with jam sessions by 3 Doors Down on June 2, The Isley Brothers on June 11, Mariachi Spectacular on July 15 and 311 on Aug. 10. Also—as is something of a tradition at this particular place—expect oldies but goldies concerts by holy has-beens like Bush (July 5) Donny and Marie Osmond (July 23) and Goo Goo Dolls (Sept. 10). Oh and some group called Tedeschi Trucks is jamming there on July 27, as well.
Much like the small towns in the fictional Texas depicted in Wild at Heart—centered on feed stores filled with unsuspecting employees and heaps of free feria ripe for the picking—so too is Isleta Amphitheater loaded with decent rock shows to get your summer listening schedule up to speed.
On June 18, the folks at Isleta bring rap-rock semi-legends Korn (If Bobby Peru had a favorite band, this is probably it.) to town. Real -life heavy metal legends Iron Maiden are happening on June 27 and Carlos Santana himself (whom peers of mine argue only has one guitar lick with a million and one variations) graces the stage on July 1.
July and the two months that follow are “hotter than Georgia asphalt”—to quote Lula Fortune—at Isleta. The month continues with an iteration of this year's I Love the '90s Tour. That show lands on the big lawn in the middle of Mesa del Sol on July 2 and features Blackstreet and Naughty by Nature. Brad Paisley and John Mayer also have shows at Isleta that month, on the 14th and 18th respectively. In August, concerts by Avenged Sevenfold (Aug. 3), Matchbox Twenty (Aug. 4), Deep Purple and Alice Cooper (Aug. 16), Slayer and Lamb of God (Aug. 19), and Cheap Trick (Aug. 23) will keep things more than warm and slightly sticky. September features an appearance by goddamn motherfucking Green Day, dudes. They'll be in Burque on Sept. 11.
If your dog barks some, is always with you and is sometimes mistaken for Toto from the Wizard of Oz, then maybe you ought to give the old boy a break and head on down to one of the glorious Summerfest Concerts on tap for 2017. Pets on leashes are welcome at these family-friendly events, and the music and related activities are always entertainingly top-notch. Besides rocking' bands, each one of these free mini-festivals includes a plethora of food trucks, children's activity stations, brew gardens and crafts vendors.
Heights Summerfest takes place on Saturday, June 10, at North Domingo Baca Park (7521 Carmel NE) from 5 until 10:30pm. The big act that night is going to be legendary ska-punk maniacs The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
The Route 66 Summerfest on July 22 happens in the midst of Nob Hill between 3 and 10:30pm—that's on Central between Girard and Carlisle—and coincides with the annual New Mexico Jazz Festival. Triple Grammy-winners Los Lobos are headlining the show, but be prepared to enter a jazz trance as well when local performers like Delphia and Lone Piñon make the center of our city into a jamming free-for-all.
Much like Sailor and Lula's roadtrip to Texas, Downtown Summerfest is all about vindication and reputation. Dennis DeYoung—who left in Styx in 1999 after much acrimony involving other founding members Tommy Shaw and James Young—was the keyboardist, mastermind, songwriter and voice behind a mega-prog rock band whose hits included songs like “Babe,” “Come Sail Away,” “Suite Madame Blue” and “Mr. Roboto”. He'll be performing the tunes he wrote—plus much of the band's vaunted, sometime bombastic oeuvre—in the flesh for this fest, which happens from 5-10:30pm at Civic Plaza.
If you recall Wild at Heart, you know that Sailor lives for speed metal and rocanrol radio, with preference given to Elvis. With that conceit in mind, it's possible to imagine the contentious, sexy and rocked out anti-hero heading out to Westside Summerfest for a show by legendary first generation rocker Chubby Checker. American Bandstand leader Dick Clark summed it all up when he said, “The three most important things that ever happened in the music industry are Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Chubby Checker.” Summerfest finishes up for the year 2017 on Saturday, Aug. 26, at Cottonwood Corners—a West Side retail center bounded by Alameda, Coors Bypass and and Ellison—from 5:30-10:30pm.
Rockabilly on the Route requires you to take a road trip out to Tucumcari, a place far less scary than Big Tuna, Texas. The yearly event happens from June 1-4. It features a ton of fun activities and tuneful digressions. There will be a parade followed by beard and mustache, tattoo and pin-up contests, but the real reason to go is the music. This year's performers include The Delta Bombers, The Barnyard Stompers, The Despots, The Phantom Pomps and Rockin Rick & The Rhythm Wranglers.
The Albuquerque Folk Festival tunes up and drops in on the Albquerque Balloon Museum on Saturday, June 3. Besides a heaping helping of jam sessions, workshops and hippie-style camping, there will be plenty of opportunities to check out some great local and national acts like Baracutanga, Squash Blossom Boys, The Adobe Brothers, Bayou Seco, Dog Star and Seth Hoffman and the Temporary Tattoos.
The Vans Warped Tour lands at Ballon Fiesta Park (5000 Balloon Fiesta NE) on Wednesday, June 21. Besides kiddie bands like Hawthorne Heights, Being As An Ocean and Sylar on the day's program, there will also be sets by legendary ensembles like The Dickies, The Adolescents, GWAR and The Ataris.
Now with a summer line up like that, aren't you glad you let the sheriff take you in after a robbery gone awry, did your time while your sweetie waited at home—vanquishing the demon of her mother's memory in the meantime—and sang just like the king about how important love was while straddling a car during rush hour, just to get back to the thing you love the most? I certainly hope so, Sailor.