Iris DeMent, the great singer-songwriter with a classic country voice redolent of her home state of Arkansas, returns to Santa Fe for a show on Friday, Dec. 13, at St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art, just off the Plaza at 107. W. Palace St.
DeMent emerged in the 1990s with a series of stunning albums that seemed ancient and modern at the same time. No less than Merle Haggard called her “the best singer I ever heard.” NPR has declared DeMent “one of the great voices in contemporary popular music” and No Depression magazine said she “makes music that celebrates humanity’s efforts toward salvation, while acknowledging that most of our time on Earth is spent reconciling with the fact that we don’t feel so redeemed.”
On a lighter note, check out her work with John Prine on his “In Spite Of Ourselves” duets album, particularly the sweet and fun Prine-original title track.
And how’s this for a twist? DeMent’s most recent studio album consists of mostly tragic poems by Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, translated and then set to compositions by DeMent and recorded in her living room.
Friday’s show starts at 7:30 p.m., with Ana Egge opening. “Second tier” seats were still available last week for $39 at holdmyticket.com.
CHRISTMAS AT THE PALACE: There are many free, family-friendly holiday celebrations in the Santa Fe area during December, but few can match the old-fashioned charm of Christmas at the Palace, this year on Friday, Dec. 13. The party starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Palace of the Governors and ends at 8 p.m. The community evening features small bonfires in the courtyard, hot cider, cookies, live music, and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. There’s also the chance to operate the Palace’s antique printing press. Donations of non-perishable food are welcomed at the event. Visitors are asked to enter through the Palace at 105 W. Palace Ave.
FEAST DAYS: Thursday, Dec. 12., Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day in the Catholic Church is also a feast day for some area pueblos.
Pojoaque Pueblo (505-455-3460) traditionally has a morning mass, followed by pueblo dances. Jemez Pueblo (575-834-7235) features matachines dances – look up the subject, and you’ll find numerous dissertations and theories about where and how this tradition emerged, with dancers in mitered hats with strings of beads that cover their faces. Calendars indicate Tesuque Pueblo (505-983-2667) also celebrates the day, with bow and arrow, Comanche and buffalo dancers, but it’s probably worth a phone call to check whether the pueblo is open to visitors that day.
SUPPORT A LOCAL HERO: Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino will host a watch party Sunday, Dec. 8, for the CNN Heroes of 2019 awards, where Roger Montoya, co-founder of Moving Arts Española, is one of 10 finalists for the top prize. If he wins, the after-school arts program he runs with partner Salvador Ruiz-Esquivel will receive $100,000.
The festivities at Buffalo Thunder begin at 4:30 p.m. with entertainment from young performers who take lessons at Moving Arts and will continue until 8 p.m. CNN’s live broadcast from New York, which will be hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa, starts at 6 p.m.
A native of Española, Montoya returned home 30 years ago to teach art, dance, gymnastics and music to children through a variety of endeavors. His latest initiative, Moving Arts, has been in existence for 12 years and provides kids with hot meals after school, in addition to arts training.