Unlike the year 2016, I am not going to lay out this story—which is about the concerts you are going to want to see in the spring and summer of the year 2019—on top of some obscure narrative that relies on pop culture references so obscure as to invite perplexity.
There is nothing more essential to the mission of getting you all out into the world with music on your mind than telling you about all the opportunities you will have to exercise your spirit this summer at some of the greatest concerts the world has ever seen.
As we all know by now, Burque is in a singular position as the sunny green seasons come to pass in these parts. Our natural love for music is rewarded by fruitful times; the river runs high thanks to good snow pack, the nights are warm but tolerable and we have music.
There are great concert opportunities, inside and out, throughout the summer—and almost every night of the week—in a state that blossoms every year with fresh musical produce rising from the ground here in the high desert.
Festivals, whether big-time or underground, abound, giving local and regional listeners the chance to see everything from huge rock acts to deliberately hidden gems from out on the Rez.
Of course this list is in no way comprehensive—it’s curated, yo, to use an au courant pop cultural term—but we do intend to send you to cool places, so make sure to check out the websites of the venues we’ll suggest when planning your own summer rock-fest.
Before we head out, grab a cold Faygo and make sure there’s gas in the car. As a final reference to our last outing in this direction, dear readers: Just let me know if you wanna go.
Hollywood Vampires. For realz rock vampires Joe Perry, Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp do it threesome-style to a heavy metal soundtrack at 8pm on Thursday, May 16 at Sandia Amphitheater (30 Rainbow Rd.). This all-ages concert will be a rager, especially if Cooper pulls out “Billion Dollar Babies.” Tickets range from $275 to $1500 for VIPs.
Road to Rich’s Tie Die Party. This seemingly obscure but totally amazing music festival, held out on the edge of the Navajo and Zuni reservations, has long been one of the best places to hear Americana peculiar to the Southwest. It’s been going strong for 26 years now—with camping, food trucks and children’s activities—it’s just the place to jam to bands like Wood Belly, Chain Station, Pherkad, Dave Payne & Salt Cedar, the Gral Brothers and many other local favorites. This is definitely worth the drive into the western lands, and tickets will run you $30 per day or $40 for a weekend pass.
Monolith on the Mesa. There’s a heapin’ helping of hard rock up in the mountains near Taos, and you can prove that to yourself and everyone else on your summer party bus by attending this massive hesher sonic feast next weekend. Find out more about this essential descent into the otherworldly in this week’s music section, lads and lassies, but please remember that only 1500 tickets to this holiest of holies are available. Tickets are $70 for one day or $125 for the whole weekend.
Silver City Blues Festival. That’s right—this festival will make for a memorable Memorial Day weekend! Drive south past T or C until you get to Exit 62 on I-25. Proceed through the bucolic and scenic town of Hillsboro and then head for the hills west of there. It’s a stunning, mountainous drive but worth it for a free festival that includes some of the region’s greatest blues provocateurs, including The Rudy Boy Experiment on Friday night, Chris Dracup Trio and Guitar Shorty on Saturday and Brody Buster and Felix y Los Gatos on Sunday afternoon. It all starts at noon on Friday at Gough Park in downtown Silver City.
Albuquerque Wine Festival. Held at the venerable and very grassy Balloon Fiesta Park (4401 Alamada Blvd. NE), this year’s fermented grape juice frolic features some snazzy and soothing musical interludes from noon to 6pm daily. Look out for performances by Baracutanga on Saturday, Sol De La Noche on Sunday and heavyweight Burque blues axemen Chris Dracup with Funk of the West and The Rudy Boy Experiment. Tickets cost $25 to $50 or just $10 for designated drivers.
Fury Fest 2019. Yeah it’s a one-day, all-ages indoor fest at the Historic El Rey Theater (622 Central Ave. SW)—a place that is really cool if there’s room to move around, but not so much when it’s “packt like sardines in a crushd tin box”—but, heck, it features my friends ICP plus killer acts like RITTZ, Mushroomhead and Ouija Macc so it oughta be worth a viddy. The Faygo starts flying at 6pm, and $30 gets you in.
Foreigner. That’s right: Mick Jones and company still have plenty of rock left in them, a fact you can tell all your hipster pals about after you check out this show at Sandia Casino and Resort Amphitheater on Thursday, June 6 at 8pm. Remaining seats are priced between $70 and $350 so yeah, it’s urgent!
Heights Summerfest. The City of Albuquerque’s most excellent set of free summer festivals—featuring live music by tip-top acts, arts and crafts, children's activities, beer gardens, food trucks and so much more—begins its 2019 run with Heights Summerfest at North Domingo Baca Park (7521 Carmel Ave. NE) from 5pm until 10pm on Saturday, June 8. The featured act is Dumpstaphunk, one of New Orleans premier funk and jam bands. That’s groovy and plenty of funk for the whole family.
Chamber Music ABQ. Among my tribe, the official intro to summer came in the sixth month in the form of the June Music Festival. That yearly rite featured a world-class art music quartet in a series of concerts at UNM’s Woodward Hall. Undergraduate College of Fine Arts students were forced to sell lemonade in the arcadian surroundings during intermission. Now it’s called Chamber Music ABQ, and they get it on at Simms Center for the Performing Arts (6400 Wyoming Blvd. NE) on Sunday, June 9 at 3:30pm; this year’s big concert features the Kalichstein-
ABQ Folk Fest. This venerable festival—held for many years at Balloon Fiesta Park but now happening in perpetuity at the Bosque School—features great folk acts from around the city, state and nation. It’s a sunny festival with lots of kid-friendly activities, camping and jam sessions. This year’s fest features stalwarts like Adobe Brothers, Cali Shaw Band, Dog Star, Le Chat Lunatique and Lone Piñon, to name a few. It all starts on Saturday, June 15 at 10am and continues until late in the evening. Tickets for this all-ages party range from $12 to $35.
Rickie Lee Jones. That’s right, kidz. Drop the needle on Rickie Lee Jones’ Pirates once more to understand how and why jazz music horned its way into the popular soundtrack one summer back in 1978. Plus she’s guaranteed to have a super-decent band, so there’s that, too. She’ll be jamming at the KiMo (423 Central Ave. NW) on Tuesday, June 25 at 7:30pm; for between $35 and $55, there ought be no argument about what to do on this Tuesday.
New Mexico Jazz Festival. With nearly three weeks of concerts, workshops, film screenings and other creative activities planned for the community, this year’s New Mexico Jazz Festival is the 14th edition of a long-running local tradition and features multiple artists, like the Doug Lawrence New Organ Quartet, Cha Wa, Dafnis Prieto’s Proverb Trio and the Joey Alexander Trio. They’ll play a plethora of venues, everywhere from the Outpost to the African American Performing Arts Center. Get deets on this significant series at outpostspace.org.
Route 66 Summerfest. American indie-folksters Magic Giant are the main attraction at this second in a series of free outdoor festivals put on by the City of Albuquerque. There will also be an Old Route 66 Car Show and a Mother Road Art Market. The event stretches along Central Avenue from Girard to Washington on Saturday, July 20 from 5 to 10pm.
Rockstar Disrupt Festival. Happening just south of Albuquerque proper at Isleta Amphitheater (5601 University Blvd. NE), this rockin’ fest of loud guitars, awesome outfits and magical moments features the best in up-and-coming and “already as popular as Plato’s Closet” teen acts like The Used, Thrice, Sum 41, Sleeping With Sirens, Juliet Simms, Andy Black, Memphis May Fire, Meg & Dia and Hyro The Hero. This crazed all-ages event gets going at 1pm on Sunday, July 28 and you can join the musical mayhem for $20 (lawn seating) all the way up to VIP packages costing $169.
The Santa Fe Opera’s 2019 Season. Some of the best opera in the world happens every summer just north of Santa Fe and under the stars. It’s been that way for decades, with the Santa Fe Opera providing programming that is both enriching and challenging while promoting a culture with intense artistic sensibilities often developed in conjunction with the high desert. This year’s season is magnificent and the first weekend features three great operas. On Thursday night, it’s Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Friday is a new production of modernist Czech opera Jenufa and Saturday reigns with a rendition of Puccini classic La bohéme. The curtain rises at 8pm each night, and admission to the nosebleed section starts at $47.
Downtown Summerfest. The penultimate free summer outdoor concert sponsored by the City, this all-ages, family friendly, food truck-laden and beer garden-possessing iteration features legendary roots rock act Tommy Castro & the Painkillers. It kicks off at 5pm on Civic Plaza and goes until 10pm.
Lynyrd Skynyrd. That’s right, folks. We want you to go see Lynyrd Skynyrd at Isleta Amphitheater on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7:30pm. Oak tree, you are in my way. Because I’m as free as bird now. Boo, Neil Young! And all that other winsome, southern-fried boogie meant to blow your mind (that might well offend you if you listen too carefully to its lyrics). Oh, and Gov’t Mule opens. Swoon. Tickets go for between $30.50 and $351; get ’em while they’re hot.
Steve Miller Band and Marty Stuart. I’m not gonna say much about this one, but if I see you at this Sandia Amphitheater show on Sunday, Aug. 11 at 7:30pm, please let me buy you a beer and a brat when “Fly Like an Eagle” inevitably gets played. Better yet—you can buy me a burrito and a coke when Marty Stuart does “Hillbilly Rock.” Admission ranges from $45 to $65; this show will sell out soon, so take the money and run, folks.
Taos Vortex. The second iteration of this totally fab multi-day, multicolored rock and roll party is happening up in Taos at Kit Carson Park the weekend of Aug. 16 through 18. You know about Taos, right? World-class skiing, beautiful vistas, vibrant indigenous culture and a gorge to die for (kidding!) make this a rarified concert destination. This year’s Vortex, sponsored and envisioned by the folks at Meow Wolf, will be headlined by George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. They are bringing the ball of funk! Day passes start at $79, and weekend passes start at $169. Be there or be square, music lovers.
Westside Summerfest. The final of four free outdoor music and lifestyle fests sponsored by Mayor Keller and company, this version—happening at the urban convergence centered at Cottonwood Mall from 5 to 10pm—features the OG pop-rock pychedelia stylings of Starship featuring Mickey Thomas. This band is sorta descended from Jefferson Airplane and also Jefferson Starship, so these dudes will tell you how they built this city whilst you enjoy the fruits of their labor, including an artisan market, food trucks, children’s activities and a microbrew garden.
Kiss. I’ve never seen Kiss in concert. I had the opportunity in the eighth grade, but my parents—already emboldened by confiscating two Richard Pryor albums and a Two Virgins bootleg from my room that week—just said no. That’s okay. I still have the 45 for “Calling Dr. Love” floating around somewhere in mi chante. Anyway, now it’s your turn. Kiss performs live at Isleta Amphitheater on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7:30pm. If can still join, kidz, may I suggest signing with the Kiss army? What a glorious way to end the summer! With tickets priced from $36 to $100, you’ll be singing “Rock and Roll All Nite” until you give all that up in high school to become a music critic.
Globalquerque!. This annual four-day world music fest has expanded to include bands from pretty much every corner of Earth. It’s also gained recognition as one of this planet’s most important outlets for the growth and sustainability of human cultures with one very important thing in common: vibrant music. There is so much going on at this year’s Globalquerque! that the best way to understand its form and function—and get a handle on the schedule and tickets for this beloved Albuquerque event—is to visit globalquerque.org.