Sunday, April 10, 2005
Almost Anything Now Available in Local Music Scene
By David Steinberg
Journal Staff Writer
When it comes to the growth in Albuquerque's live music and theater choices, Tom Guralnick, an observer of the local music scene for 30 years, has a clear idea of what has happened.
"There's been a tremendous amount of growth in the scene," said Guralnick, founder and executive director of Outpost Productions.
"There just seems to be more and more options for people. It's busier and busier."
Fans of all stripes are having a field day with the choices, from the hues of rock music that touring and local bands bring to Downtown clubs, to shows at nearby casinos and the enormous mix of jazz, salsa, folk, blues and world music at venues such as the KiMo Theatre, Outpost Performance Space, Journal Pavilion and National Hispanic Cultural Center.
"Journal Pavilion and the Journal Theatre at the Hispanic Cultural Center are making a big difference," Guralnick added.
The theater in the cultural center's recently opened Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts is the city's second near-700-seat space; the other performing space of comparable size is the KiMo Downtown.
Journal Pavilion has hosted popular rock bands such as Van Halen and world music groups such as the Gipsy Kings.
The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra's main venue is Popejoy Hall on the University of New Mexico campus, where it offers its Classics and Pops series, but it has added some extra Classics concerts on Sundays at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
Popejoy also is home to the annual Ovation Series, which brings in a kaleidoscope of world-class music and dance groups, as well as plays and extended runs of touring Broadway shows.
Indian casinos have expanded the music scene, bringing in national acts ranging from Wayne Newton to Clint Black.
There has also been noticeable growth for certain kinds of concerts Downtown, said Joe Anderson, owner of The Launchpad and a partner in the Sunshine Theater.
"It seems like we are becoming a more viable market for stops (between Texas and Arizona). The hard-rock stuff is up to a par with a lot of the bigger markets in terms of attendance and what bands can make."
Generally speaking, Anderson said, "it seems people are a little more willing to spend real money on concert tickets."
Chamber music also seems to be a healthy component of the music scene. Chamber Music Albuquerque produces the June Music Festival and now offers additional concerts through the year.
Several flamenco and ballet companies have been enriching the city's arts scene for years, in addition to dance studio ensembles and UNM faculty and students who perform.
Patrons continue to flow to live theater options, from compact spaces such as the Vortex, the Cell, Tricklock Performance Space, the Adobe and UNM's Theatre X to larger ones such as the Albuquerque Little Theatre, Rodey Theatre and the Hiland, home to Musical Theatre Southwest's productions.
Digby Wolfe, chairman of UNM's Dramatic Writing Program, finds it reassuring that there is "an audience for people willing to seek out the unusual or the unconventional, and to avoid the dumbed-down, if you like, and look for something more satisfying."
Did You Know?
KiMo literally means "mountain lion." The theater was named by Isleta Pueblo Gov. Pablo Abeita.