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‘Theatrical folk music’: Drive-in concert features Joe West with Bill Hearne

New Mexico-based musician Joe West will perform a show as part of AMP Concerts’ drive-in series on Saturday, Aug. 15, at Hipico in Santa Fe. (Courtesy of Joe West Music)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Joe West walks to the beat of his own drummer.

He’s always been that way.

When AMP Concerts approached West to perform a show as part of its coming drive-in music series, West jumped at the chance.

“It’s my first drive-in concert,” he says. “AMP Concerts had a successful one a few months ago. I’m trying to wrap my head around it. I don’t know how different it will be with what we usually do. There will be a big jumbo screen, so that will change the experience.”

West has been regularly performing at the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid on the patio. But with this show, there is an opportunity to play for a bigger crowd.

With health restrictions still in place in New Mexico, West has been ready to get back onstage.

During his show, West will be joined by Bill Hearne.

West says the stage will be set up higher than normal. Hearne will be on his own stage, performing with enough distance from the rest of the band.

West says band members will all be socially distanced and wearing masks when not singing.

“It’s funny, because I started thinking, ‘How I’m going to play to an audience of cars?’ ” he says. “I’ll have to make jokes like, ‘This song goes out to all of the Toyotas.’ It will be a great show.”

West is a staple in the local music scene with his quirky, offbeat and melodic style – which has been described as “theatrical folk music.”

He’s been releasing music since the mid-1980s and continues to push himself artistically.

Over the past few years, West has created a rock opera, produced music for film and television, originated a conceptual radio show, created a film festival and founded a theater company that performs his dark horror-comedies with original live music.

With the pandemic slowing down his professional life, he’s taken time to outline his next steps.

He’s been working on new theater pieces, as well as new music.

“I think the silver lining to the pandemic is that local artists are in the spotlight,” he says. “There are not huge tours coming through right now, and there’s a renewed focus on the local musicians right now. It feels really special to have that happening.”

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