I fancy myself a Nuevo Mexicano music enthusiast. In my mind, qualifications for this title include general Land of Enchantment geekdom and a penchant for rediscovering little-known local music. A recent example of this thoroughly nerdy obsession was discovering that The Morticians—whose “Little Latin Lupe Lu” rendition rules—was the band of 16-year-old Stan Hirsch. But being an enthusiast hardly compares to being a collector. The main difference between these categories isn’t in research but, rather, in acquistion. Collectors actually acquire physical copies of recordings and archive and can share them with the world.
I’m lucky enough to know a few of these guys and gals. One of them, Ken Cornell, has called the 505 home for more than three decades and amassed an impressive aural archive. It was this drive that led Cornell and Blackbird Buvette co-owner Dandee Fleming to found The Local Spin. It happens the second Saturday of each month at Blackbird. The gist is this: Cornell spins his impressive homegrown collection—which multiplies with each event—and submissions and musicians and fans gather to talk sounds and keep the exciting heritage of local music alive.
The audience is diverse. Cornell says it’s a mixture of venue patrons, musicians and a small group of geographically oriented audio obsessives. Initially, one of the rules for inclusion was that music have a physical release on cassette, CD or vinyl, but, of late, Cornell has relaxed that requirement. So many people sent him links to their work that digital music merited a paradigm shift. In the Bandcamp age, even hard copy fetishists have come to accept that, in some ways, physical releases are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.
For context, Cornell went through the October playlist and some of the bands were familiar, but many were not. The acts I knew included: the Grave of Nobody’s Darling, Ghost Circles, Unit 7 Drain, The Hollis Wake, The Mindy Set, The Onlys, Of God and Science, Volume Volume, Venus Bogardus, The Scrams, Bigawatt, Lady Fox and Cthula. Ones I’d never heard of: The Tingley Beach Boys (a collective of locals covering The Beach Boys), The Cellophane Typewriters, Rio en Medio, Opus Somniferous, The Build and Pigheart (one of Fando’s alter egos).
“There’s so much out there,” says Cornell, who really loves the look on people’s faces when they discover that the music they’re digging is all local. He’s also inspired by other hyper-local sonic archivists, like Captain America and Derek Caterwaul.
The next Spin happens on Saturday, Jan. 12, and will find Cornell zeroing in on categories that are close to his heart: “ambient, noise, super-grind, space-out weirdness.” The extreme and obscure-themed installment will highlight a variety of experimental acts. The list includes: Raven Chacon, Bigawatt, Alchemical Burn, Fando, Out of Context, Lionhead Bunny, Black Guys, Laughing Dog, Roñoso, Death Convention Singers aka Cobra// group, Bud Melvin, Karen and Audible Whispering 1/2 Quartet.
Bands interested in having their music added to the Spin’s mix can drop off CDs and albums to Cornell during the event, which starts at 7 p.m. and runs until 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the live music schedule. There’s no cover and the 21-and-over listening party is bound to expose anyone to new sounds and artists. That’s why Cornell will be there: “One of the reasons I was so excited to approach this was knowing how much is there and knowing that there's even more that I don't know about.” He invites those who share that collective itch to drop off their debut albums or favorite local band from the ’60s and, ultimately, to share in an utterly New Mexican sonic experience.
Cornell was kind enough to whip up a sampler playlist for Alibi readers: bit.ly/AlibiSpin