Music Appreciation

Our Own Musical Garden

August March
4 min read
Music Appreciation
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At some point in their lives, everyone who ever read this newspaper or its electronic equivalent was a newcomer to Albuquerque. Whether they arrived via the traditional means, rolled into town in the back of mom and dad’s Country Squire station wagon or appeared magically by virtue of the multi-dimensional time portal craftily hidden somewhere in our town’s adjacent nuclear research facility, this place became home.

For those who found within themselves the moxie to endure the stultifying heat of summer, the wan light of winter and the acrobatic antics of Burque’s drivers, there was an ample harvest.

But cultures and subcultures don’t just rise up from the Earth on their own, especially in a place where grass doesn’t grow unless regularly watered, where the great river dividing the city occasionally slows to a trickle. It takes people, ideas and action to make the scene come alive and flourish.

All of that’s just a flowery description of how there came to be a music community in the Duke City. What follows is a plainspoken outline of how to get involved in that organic engine.

First, take in the past for inspiration. After deplaning at the Sunport, but before gamboling to your first concert or traipsing to your awesome new job at this or that high-tech firm, jump into an automobile and head up to the Heights. Find Candelaria Road and travel east, past Wyoming Boulevard, to Jim Morrison’s boyhood home at 8912 Candelaria NE.

Although the Lizard King only lived here for a couple of years, his time in Albuquerque had a profound effect on his work. Morrison spoke powerfully and poetically of his time spent in these parts through a recording known as
An American Prayer. Take in what he saw—the looming Sandias, the unfolding, verdant and volcanic mesa on the western horizon.

But don’t tarry; drive by solemnly with that record of youthful abandon and ominous premonitions blaring through your car stereo speakers as you make the return trip back to present-day Albuquerque.

Next, have an encounter with Now. As noted in last year’s
Alibi Survival Guide, Burque is lovingly filled with champion varieties of musical venues. But as Tom Waits once sang, “There’s a world going on underground.”

Sure enough, joints like
Sister (407 Central NW) and Launchpad (618 Central NW) totally fucking rock, while the action is always sure to get seriously sublime at UNM’s Keller Recital Hall. But the deep grooves in this particular geographic location aren’t limited to the dusty tire tracks to be encountered on its physical edges.

Here, a semblance of subterranean sonics can be found at a number of locales.
The Gasworks (6821 Montgomery NE) made itself part of the scene by embracing an aesthetic that brought the best in independent touring bands through town. Sadly, the venue will be closing in November, so do yourself a solid and check it out before that punk rock palace goes off to dwell in Morrison’s heavenly abode.

The underground is a vast construction with a variety of bifurcating passageways. Venues such as
Duke City Sound Stage (2013 Ridgecrest SE), Gold House (1817 Gold SE) and The Jam Spot (239 San Pedro NE) add to the nuance and complexity of a youthful city on the edge.

Sometimes the boundaries of physical location within good ol’ Dirt City can be transcended. Though musically adventurous DIY organizations like the Goathead Record Collective are no longer extant—the confluence of straight edge punks and mountain-dwelling zine makers went extinct in March of 2015—the tradition of homegrown experimentalism continues unabated. With frontier-busting outfits like Gatas y Vatas and Mark Weaver’s Roost Music Series tending the garden, local listeners can be guaranteed to glean a glimpse of the profoundly rooted alternative musical landscape spread around our village garden.

Finally, imagine the future. As Joe Strummer intoned, it’s unwritten. So as you make your journey through this new or old, big and small pueblo in the middle of the Rio Grande valley, make your musical ideas actionable. One way to do this is to check out and participate in the open mic event held every Wednesday from 7 pm -10 pm at
Witch’s Brew (1517 Girard NE), a hep new joint once known as the Blue Dragon. Support your local scene because—as noted plentifully throughout this rambling tale—nothing is forever. Unless you’re Jim Morrison.
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