Hip Hop – Here and Now

WakeSelf-COVER01-DSC_1149Mescalero Apache and Mexican on his father’s side, Wake Self, a small-town kid from the Fort Wingate and Gallup areas, says that, growing up, the surrounding lakes, mountains and Native American reservations “had a profound impact on my outlook on life.”

Living in epic times is not for the feint of heart. Since Local Flavor began this series last November, the times have only gotten dizzyingly more confounding. “We’re on a hero’s journey—and it’s scary,” Native activist and artist Cannupa Hanska Luger said in our first installment of the series. He called this a time of “Here Be Monsters,” requiring passionate, dedicated monster-slayers stepping up to put their hearts on the line for what they believe. We can do this, Cannupa said, if we act collectively. And then, he added, “seven generations we’ll never meet could look back and tell tales of this mythical time.”

And in fact, even in the face of dauntingly overwhelming obstacles, stouthearted heroes are indeed emerging. Standing tall among these is born-and-bred New Mexican Andrew Isaac Martinez, better known as Wake Self. Now in his mid-20s, he’s been a performing hip-hop artist since he was 15; starting at 12, he began teaching himself to write poetry lyrics. “They were my own personal counseling sessions,” he says unabashedly. “I was having some depression, some growing pains.” Mescalero Apache and Mexican on his father’s side, Wake Self, a small-town kid from the Fort Wingate and Gallup areas, says that, growing up, the surrounding lakes, mountains and Native American reservations “had a profound impact on my outlook on life.” Early on, he honed his focus, mentioning without fanfare, for example, “I’m a rapper artist who’s proudly sober.” And as his DJ name makes clear, he’s committed to diverging from typical mainstream rapper obsessions—wealth, conspicuous consumption, male domination—to help us wake up from all that. The first few lines of a recent song “Fluteboxsesh,” filmed at Yellowstone with longtime DJ friend Def-i, express Wake Self’s priorities: “Ever felt so alive/Your brain stretched to wide open/no sense of ego, no swollen pride/Nothin’ is holdin’ you back/Wakin’ up outta the trap?”   Continue reading

Top Tix

“A working musician is all I ever wanted to be,” Alejandro Escovedo says. That he is, and you can hear him in an intimate setting at GiG Performance Space courtesy of AMP Concerts. Roots-rock, punk rock…he always sounded like a version of Dylan to me. I’m not saying he’s derivative, not at all, but just as honest and poetic as ol’ Bobby—that’s what I hear when he writes and sings his own stuff. Alejandro’s on his Burn Something Beautiful tour, and Santa Fe will embrace him. One of the cuts on this album is “I Don’t Want To Play Guitar Anymore.” Don’t believe it. Nov. 4, AMPconcerts.org, holdmyticket.com

Because FUSION Theatre Company always sells out its shows, include Fulfillment Center in your early November plans at The FUSION Forum, the newly re-christened Cell Theatre (plus) in ABQ. This play is fresh from The Manhattan Theatre Club, but playwright Abe Koogler is from New Mexico; his parents live in Santa Fe. FUSION was searching for a Santa Fe venue as of press time. Continue reading

El Farol

ElFarol_DSC3535There were serious offers on the table from five potential buyers for El Farol on Canyon Road, a Santa Fe icon and one of America’s hundred most historic restaurants. Four of the bids were from out of state. Lucky for Santa Fe, the winning offer, from lead investor Richard Freedman, was not only local, it was hyperlocal. Rich also owns The Teahouse, right across the street.

“Lately, I’ve been wearing out a path between the two places,” Rich says on Day 12 of the newly refurbished and reopened El Farol, which translates from Spanish as “The Lantern.” “We let the lantern idea guide us as we chose every detail of the design,” part owner and General Manager Freda K. Scott says. “The warmth and light, the sense of welcoming that a lit lantern symbolizes, and which historically signaled the cantina was open for service.”

Rich and Freda eschewed the services of a professional designer, preferring to make their own selections of casual comfortable, dark wood furniture, locally sourced lighting fixtures and sconces, the new modern and elegant logo, the flatware and other décor details, down to the alabaster candleholders on every table, which are meant to convey: “You’re home, you’re invited, you’re welcome here.” Continue reading

The (R)Evolution of Steve Jobs at Santa Fe Opera

HXHH96 STEVE JOBS STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE (2015)

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE (2015)

At 420 years old, opera is a venerable art form: The first recorded opera was Jacopo Peri’s Dafne, which premiered in Florence, Italy, in 1597. But opera also is ever young. New works are written and regularly performed today, and greeted with much applause by audiences. That’s certainly long been the case at The Santa Fe Opera. Since the first season in 1957, the company has regularly commissioned and premiered new operas––14 to date––and has given the American premieres of some 45 other pieces.

This 2017 season has its premiere as well. The spotlighted opera is The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, with music by Mason Bates, and libretto by Mark Campbell. Yes, the opera is an exploration of the life, work and inner journey of techno-giant Steve Jobs, who made the Apple brand ubiquitous. It is being awaited with anticipation not only by operatic cognoscenti, but by those immersed in the contemporary Zeitgeist of computers, technology and global information access. Continue reading

The Force of George RR Martin

george-r-r-martinBack in 1979, when George R.R. Martin first arrived in Santa Fe, both he and his newly adopted city were relative unknowns outside of their respective genres: GRRM’s fantasy, horror and sci-fi; Santa Fe’s the visual arts market. But for this already-successful writer of novels and TV shows, the world was about to expand far beyond that niche, as even then, he’d begun envisioning the shape and pulse of what was to become his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, from which followed HBO’s blockbuster TV series Game of Thrones. And as his own world morphed, he would help catapult ours into a whole new future, as well.

From the beginning, he was one of us. Over almost four decades, his celebrity has grown, but he’s remained an actual resident, one of Santa Fe’s biggest fans of small-town friendliness and scale along with its many cultural treasures, historical and more recent, including our penchant for small, independent movie theaters. He’s a movie palace aficionado all the way back to his New Jersey childhood; he’s mingled in audiences with us, and like us, he grieved the loss when the Jean Cocteau theater went out of business, standing empty for years. In fact, his first widely witnessed public stand for our arts potential was in deciding that someone should buy this gem—why not him? If this sounded initially like a typical celebrity impulse buy, we know better now. Continue reading

Shadowland: Pilobolus at the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

B 2015_SL_Ian Douglas 1 copyIn a town that consistently punches above its weight vis a vis the arts, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a leading light, and on the heels of its 20th anniversary, the multifaceted company continues to raise the bar (perhaps even the barre?) on local culture.

Its mere presence has gone a long way toward educating Santa Feans about dance (it also encompasses two educational programs, the School of ASFB and ASBF Folklórico), yet the organization is decidedly reluctant to dictate meaning or interpretation to its audiences. “We don’t want to intellectualize dance,” ASFB Executive Director Jean-Philippe Malaty says. “We take a step back from that approach. We believe dance is a very visceral experience, and that is how you respond to it.” As a result, he and his colleagues prefer to let dance to speak for itself, allowing it “to provide an escape, to provide beauty, to provide the pure human spirit of expression.” At the same time, however, he adds, “We feel it’s important for us to have an audience that’s been exposed to different styles.”

That’s where ASFB Presents comes in. One of the country’s largest dance-exclusive presenters, it brings roughly a half-dozen companies to perform locally each year. “It’s important to provide a well-rounded experience for our audience,” Jean-Philippe says. “Usually we bring in a dance company that’s different from what we do.”

Since ASFB Presents was created in 1999, it has hosted companies from the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago to Paul Taylor Dance Company and Twyla Tharp to Mark Morris Dance Group, as well as international ensembles like the Peking Acrobats and Les Ballets Africains. The practice, Jean-Philippe says, is unusual in the field. “It’s part of the hybrid model we have,” he explains. “It’s a great collaboration with our colleagues in the field—giving back and helping another dance company. It keeps us on our toes. There are few other dance companies that bring other companies on their turf.” (Then again, ASFB has always done things a little bit differently. Founded in 1996 in Aspen, Colo., the company expanded its reach to Santa Fe in 2000, creating a dual-city company model.)

On Feb. 28, through ASFB Presents, the organization is bringing Pilobolus to Santa Fe to perform its new show, Shadowland. “We have always been very fond of the work of Pilobolus,” Jean-Philippe says. “They are an American icon in the dance world, and we’ve brought them to Aspen and Santa Fe a number of times over the past 20 years. The exchange went even a little bit deeper when we took one of Pilobolus’s ballets [Untitled] in our repertoire.” Continue reading