Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
In 1920, artist John Sloan painted the oil piece “Music in the Plaza.”
It’s a snapshot of a vibrant nightlife on the Santa Fe Plaza, with people gathering, dancing and embracing a community.
During the 1920s, Santa Fe began establishing community cultural events in the Plaza.
The next chapter in this century-long story is being led by AMP Concerts.
The nonprofit is kicking off its Plaza Summer Music Series on Thursday, July 8, with Manzanares, and JJ and the Hooligans.
The Albuquerque/Santa Fe nonprofit will carry the torch for the free outdoor concerts through 2024. It took over the reins from Outside In Productions, which made it a successful series for more than a decade.
AMP Concerts is known for presenting the Railyard Concert Series for the past six years. The nonprofit is also taking over the music series at SWAN Park on the Southside.
Neal Copperman, AMP Concerts executive director, said staff have been working nonstop for nearly three weeks to get the series lined up. He credits Jamie Lenfestey and Tim Franke for taking the lead on the projects in Santa Fe.
“We’ve always been kind of ready to take a step,” Copperman said. “We started working on the series when we had the vague inkling that the state would open up again. Every one of these steps takes a minimum of two weeks to plan.”
Taking over the plaza series is very new for AMP Concerts and Copperman said the goal is to present a diverse offering for the audience.
“We think it’s critical to be as diverse as possible,” he says of the concerts offered. “Diversity is at the core of what we’ve always done and we’ve tried to have a broad spectrum that is reflective of our community. There’s something for everybody and an opportunity to learn about a different culture. We want the experience to feel very inclusive for both the artists and the audience.”
All three music series offered are free and open to the public.
Copperman says the nonprofit spends all year fundraising to keep the series available at no cost to the public.
“We’ve done the fundraising for six years for the Railyard Series,” Copperman said. “When we took on the Plaza and SWAN Park, we knew that there was a history of people who had supported those series. We reached out to the new sponsors. We surpassed our goals and we found that community support is really strong.”
Copperman said it’s been interesting planning a music series for each event.
“The spaces have their different personalities and we were aware of that when programming,” he said. “Each is special in the way it fits into the community.”
The Plaza series will see the likes of Pamyua, Escape on a Horse, Charley Crockett, Ozomatli and a Songwriter night in July.
The Railyard series will have Jesse Royal at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 9. There is also a movie series running this summer.
SWAN Park will kick off with Severo y Grupo Fuego at 6:30 p.m. July 18. For more information and a complete schedule, visit ampconcerts.org.