Bruce Cockburn was playing a show at the then-Sweeney Convention Center in Santa Fe.
A bright-eyed Jamie Lenfestey had just taken his first crack at being a music promoter.
The legendary Cockburn sold out the venue – giving Lenfestey a home run.
“I made money and thought it was going to make me rich,” Lenfestey says with a laugh.
Since that time, Lenfestey has been a staple in the local music scene as a promoter.
First, with Fan Man Productions and Heath Concerts. Eight years ago, Lenfestey joined Neal Copperman’s Albuquerque-based nonprofit AMP Concerts and the duo expanded the musical offerings among Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos.
Lenfestey has joined a new initiative called Lensic 360 as director, which is run by the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.
The programming will present concerts at venues throughout northern New Mexico and Albuquerque.
“It was time for a change,” Lenfestey says. “I had been with AMP Concerts for eight years and over time, I saw AMP and the New Mexico music scene grow. The focus had become Santa Fe and Taos events. At the end of the day, being tied to an Albuquerque-based organization while 90% of our business was in Santa Fe or Taos. The opportunity came up to be part of this.”
Lensic 360 will present concerts at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, as well as a multitude of venues and public spaces, including the Santa Fe Railyard, Santa Fe Plaza, Meow Wolf, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery, Santa Fe Opera, and the Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company in Santa Fe; Kit Carson Park and Taos Mesa Brewing in Taos; KiMo Theatre, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Historic El Rey Theater, Sunshine Theater, and Revel Entertainment Center in Albuquerque.
“We are thrilled to bring this new programming initiative to the Lensic,” says Joel Aalberts, Lensic executive director. “The Lensic has always been a place for our community and these new Lensic 360 events will only further extend the variety of high quality performing arts experiences and engagements to audiences across Santa Fe and northern New Mexico.”
Lenfestey says the Lensic was looking for a way to expand its reach outside of their four walls.
“Being that the center is in the capital city and a performance arts hub, they wanted to bring more music to all markets across the state of New Mexico,” Lenfestey says.
Franke says promoting has definitely become more and more challenging as the years wear on.
“Frankly, I must say the public programing piece such as Santa Fe Summer Scene is by far the most rewarding and that has grown my love for this work,” Franke says. “Providing free music to the public has taught me more about my community and music than anything else we do in this business. Its a privilege and gift to be able to give back to the Santa Feans.”
In a way, being part of Lensic360 is completing a circle for the duo.
Lenfestey was thinking about leaving New Mexico in the early 2000s, when he read that the historic theater was undergoing renovations.
“This is a very personal idea of coming full circle, coming home to the Lensic where my career truly took off when I produced the very first concert after the grand opening with Sweet Honey in the Rock in May of 2001,” Lenfestey says. “The same year, I booked my first show at the Santa Fe Opera and we’ve been doing shows there since. It’s been a lot work and it’s all rewarding.”
Meanwhile, Franke worked in the Lensic’s box office and produced his first show – Andrew Bird – at the Lensic in 2013.
“It’s funny because I actually started my promoting career in the box office at the Lensic learning ticketing while I was buying shows for the old Corazon on Guadalupe, so its like a homecoming,” Franke says. “But the most exciting thing is to be collaborating with the Lensic’s amazing staff in creating this brand, paving the way for an unlimited horizon in show bookings that lends itself to greater diversity in programming for northern New Mexicans.”
In recent years, Lenfestey and Franke have brought acts such as Sting, Wilco, Beach House, and other notable names to New Mexico.
Through combined efforts, the Lensic’s team, Lenfestey, and Franke will continue to present a diverse array of artists for the community.
“Working hand-in-hand with the premier performing arts center in the state allows us even more opportunity to bring incredible artists to the many great venues we love,” Lenfestey says.