Fall into Santa Fe Film

Santa Fe is historically linked to the days of cowboys and gunslingers, covered wagons and pioneers. The city was built on adventure, action and excitement! Buildings on the Plaza and downtown Santa Fe offer visitors and residents the opportunity to step into character. Take a walk through downtown to see a film history that spans over 100 years and across more than 600 productions.

Recently, New Mexico was named by Trade Publications as one of the “Top Five” film locations in the entire world. Movies like “No Country for Old Men”, “Crazy Heart”, and “True Grit” have all been produced using the New Mexico landscape as a backdrop. TV classics like Breaking Bad—infamously known for its Albuquerque location—have even come to share the stage in Santa Fe. (Be sure to check out the New Mexico Film and Media Industry Conference, too!) Read More

Why We Love August (And You Should, Too!)

There is so much to see and do this coming August in Santa Fe! With Summer of Color in full swing and a wide range of events taking place, you’ll see why we love August.

Two Markets, One Weekend  

The Santa Fe Indian Market is one of the biggest events in Santa Fe and also the largest and most prestigious intertribal fine art market in the world. You will see visitors interacting with over 1,000 of the “best of the best” Native artists and designers in this two day festival market. Check out our calendar for more events revolving around Indian Market as numerous galleries and other venues around the city host special events during the week.

One event overlapping Indian Market weekend is the Indigenous Fine Arts Market. IFAM is a celebration of native art and cultures. IFAM’s art events, music and literary programs, aim to create a greater understanding of the complexity and beauty of Native American culture and people as they exist today. IFAM is also a juried art show.

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Serving Up A Slice Of Santa Fe Music

Serving Up A Slice Of Santa Fe Music

Santa Fe is known for its cuisine but did you know that with all that amazing food, hot music is also served up! Talk about efficient entertainment…food, cocktails and diverse music. On any given night you can be country western dancing in a downtown lounge to getting your groove on in a nightclub. Let’s rock the Santa Fe music scene!

Be Part Of Café Society

Love Santa Fe’s oldest bar, El Farol! A favorite amongst locals, enjoy world-class entertainment and  Spanish tapas, wines and liqueurs to savor. One way to sum up El Farol’s music programming would be “cafe society”. A term coined in New York in the late 30’s, it describes a place visited routinely by guests who expect the same type of music on that night. Musicians such as Tito Dimitrov, Sean Healen, Nacha Mendez and the Canyon Road Blues Jam keep that spirit ongoing.

Remember your dancing shoes for “El Farol”dance mania.
Remember your dancing shoes for “El Farol”dance mania.

Sing Us A Song, You’re The Piano Men

Ready for a piano sing-along requests? Well, Santa Fe has it’s own Piano Men! “Where can I find a world class piano bar in Santa Fe?” Look no further than Vanessie located on San Francisco Street. You’ll find on any given night you might be sitting around the piano requesting a song from the pianist or just enjoying the nights repetoire. You’ll be treated to some of the best local singer-songwriters to world class pianists and cabaret singers. You may also hear Doug Montgomery, who for over 30 years has entertained visitors and locals alike.

There’s another “Piano Man” in town and that’s David Geist. David entertains at Pranzo’s Italian Grill several nights a week and runs the gamut from Gershwin to Sondheim in his musical selections. If you’re in the mood for a memorable Italian dinner with great music and a tree top view, this is the place!

Pianist Doug Montgomery takes the helm four nights a week.
Pianist Doug Montgomery takes the helm four nights a week.

Broadway At Your Table

If you hear music from “Rent” emanating from a beautiful adobe doorway you most likely have discovered La Casa Sena’s La Cantina”. A Santa Fe favorite, the singing wait staff entertains you in this historic adobe building that dates back to 1868. The atomosphere in La Cantina is a convivial one and you may find yourself singing along. Music runs nightly from 6 pm until closing.

A server belts out a Broadway tune.
A “La Cantina” server belts out a familiar Broadway tune.

Hey Mr. DJ!

In the mood for some serious DJ dance music? Check out Skylight! Dance in of the hottest nightspots in town with nightly entertainment that includes live music, DJs, comedy and dance. You’ll want to watch dancing below from the second floor aptly named “Skylab”. Local DJ’s mix it up on the wheels of steel and Skylight occasionally brings in celebrity DJ’s such as UK house sensation, Dave Seaman.

Catch DJ acts at Skylight.
Catch DJ acts at Skylight.

Santa Fe Favorite Bands

Once you enter The Palace Restaurant and Saloon you’ll notice red flocked velvet wall paper that recalls the era gambling halls and saloons of the wild west of the 1850’s. If you’re looking for late night eats and music, this is the place! Fabulous local bands such as Nosotros, Anthony Leon and the Chain and Vanilla Pop are recurring favorites that perform here. You’ll see why British newspaper “The Guardian” listed it as one of its top ten bars in Santa Fe.

The saloon, with its red, flocked velvet wallpaper recalls the   gambling halls and saloons of yesteryear.
The saloon, with its red flocked velvet wallpaper recalls the gambling halls and saloons of yesteryear.

It Takes Two To Two Step

There’s always a lively party at La Fonda’s La Fiesta Lounge”, where live acts such as country western bring down the house six nights a week. The mood here is friendly and festive. Hear some of Santa Fe’s finest like the Bill Hearne Trio, Night Train and The Bus Tapes. Don’t know how to country two step? Here’ your chance to learn a few dance moves as you watch some of the seasoned regulars show you how it’s done.

A visit to the La Fiesta Lounge will have you two stepping in no time.
A visit to the La Fiesta Lounge will have you two stepping in no time.

One Man, One Guitar, One Voice

The “Living Room Lounge” at the Inn and Spa at Loretto plays host to Matthew Andrae, one of Santa Fe’s favorite musicians. Relax and take advantage of the romantic ambience the lounge offers. The lighting is just right as you sit back in a sumptuous couch with that special someone. Take in Matthew’s unique musical stylings while ordering delicious appetizers. Andrae’s music has been featured in movies, television shows and events such as the Winter Olympic Games and the World Expo.

You'll fall in love with Andrae's fiery flamenco rhythyms.
You’ll fall in love with Andrae’s fiery flamenco rhythms.

Nuevo Latino Rhythm

Drawing on a wide range of influences the Nacha Mendez Quartet repertoire consists of originals and music from all the Spanish speaking countries. Nacha Mendez has been serenading visitors and locals at the Staab House bar for over ten years in a beautiful setting. Hear Nacha transport you to Old Mexico or maybe even Cuba in song and rhythm. The mood  is heightened with a  stellar roster of musicians that include Chase Morrison, Carla Kountoupes and Jesus Gachupin who accompany her on Wednesday nights. Paired with this quartet you will see why Travel & Leisure Magazine said “the Staab House is the coziest bar in Santa Fe.”

These four musicians will open the door to your Latin world music journey.
These four musicians will open the door to your Latin world music journey.

Seven Nights A Week
The Cowgirl serves up some of the best local bands seven nights a week! Sit at a table outside or inside and  you will still hear acts such as Townes Van Zandt, Patsy Montana, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Shawn Mullins, Joe West, Mary and Mars and more.

Santa Fe “The City Different” showcases its impeccable range in culinary delights and music-hopping opportunities. Santa Fe provides the perfect nightlife experience combining  great food, refreshing cocktails and the rhythms of night. As you’re planning your next trip to Santa Fe don’t forget your dancing shoes!

Tune Into the Holidays in Santa Fe

Wherever we may find ourselves over the holiday season, making merry simply wouldn’t be the same without a musical backdrop. A familiar carol heard in the distance, the strains of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker welling up, a haunting Baroque composition sung a cappella … these are the beautiful sounds that accompany the distinctive quality of a holiday spent in Santa Fe.

It’s our festive good fortune that talented performers of all stripes have chosen to make the City Different their permanent home. And the fact that guest artists from all over the world welcome an opportunity to perform here is an additional blessing, particularly at the holidays, when Santa Fe sparkles with color, excitement, and music.

Hallelujah for Handel

We know the holidays have well and truly begun when the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus treat us to the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. As always, this festive holiday tradition takes place at the Lensic on November 24, under the baton of conductor Tom Hall, with an informative preview talk taking place before the performance. I love that the program always includes the words so I can follow, and I’d like to meet the person who doesn’t like to hum along to the Hallelujah chorus!

It takes a village, or at least a whole chorus, to bring Handel’s Messiah to the stage of the Lensic in Santa Fe.
It takes a village, or at least a whole chorus, to bring Handel’s Messiah to the stage of the Lensic in Santa Fe.

The 30th season of the Symphony takes the holiday spirit to towering heights, with a glittering performance of Christmas Treasures at the fully bedecked Lensic. This concert of choral favorites, conducted by Joseph Young, includes holiday favorites from the Middle Ages all the way to the 20th century, with standards like Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and a suite from the movie Polar Express – there’s one for the kiddos! Be sure to mark this December 15th performance on your musical calendar. This all-ages performance is a sure bet for bringing a melodious close to the afternoon, and you can close out a magical day with a festive Sunday dinner downtown.

It’s a BIG Sing, and You’re Invited to Sing Along

The Santa Fe Desert Chorale, in its 31st season of choral concordance in Santa Fe, has become one of our most beloved musical groups, and they pay back the love with a return of The Big Sing, a local hit when it was inaugurated in 2012. This concert of song features performers of all ages, with appearances by the University of New Mexico Concert Choir and the UNM Children’s Chorus, in addition to the Desert Chorale led by its esteemed director, Joshua Habermann. Each of the three choral groups performing collected its own set of seasonal selections to infuse our hearts with holiday spirit. The Santa Fe ambiance of the venue, Cristo Rey Church on Canyon Road, adds to the flavor of this one-day only performance on December 15. And throughout the concert, the audience will be invited to sing along – I don’t know about you, but I am always ready to bust out some Silver Bells!

The Santa Fe Desert Chorale makes the rafters ring in Santa Fe’s beautiful Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis
The Santa Fe Desert Chorale makes the rafters ring in Santa Fe’s beautiful Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis

Not content with just a community sing-along, the Desert Chorale also brings their annual Carols and Lullabies concerts to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis for five stirring performances in December — and there’s a truly spiritual uplift on hearing an ancient lullaby echo through the rafters of our beautiful Cathedral. For those of you looking to lighten the holiday mood up a bit, here’s just the ticket: The Lighter Side of Christmas benefit concert for the Chorale on December 17 at Lewallen Gallery in the Railyard. This fa la la la laugh-inducing evening culminates in a silent auction famous for offering enticing treats on which to bid. The Chorale then winds up the year with sass and swing with a special New Year’s Weekend Concert December 28-31 by Voasis, the Chorale’s new contemporary a cappella ensemble, produced by Deke Sharon of NBC’s The Sing-Off. And if you’re really looking to step out for New Year’s, Warehouse 21 is a super-stylin’ venue for sassy selections with which to usher on 2014.

Nutty for the Nutcracker? Me Too!

I’ve seen The Nutcracker more than once, and I’ll see it again and again, because it’s simply part of my holiday tradition. And it only gets better every year, as the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet grows in stature and competence. Tchaikovsky’s memorable music forms a luscious backdrop for sugarplums and Russian dancers, snowflakes, and an epic battle between the King of the Rats and the stalwart Nutcracker, who fortunately wins every time. It’s always a delight to see the students of ASFB’s ballet school learn to face an audience and take their bows – that’s an artistic community in action. Two performances each day December 21-22 leave plenty of room for other holiday activities, so be sure to get the balletomanes in your family on board.

The King of the Rats — or as we might call him in Santa Fe, El Rey de Ratons — will never defeat the Brave Nutcracker
The King of the Rats — or as we might call him in Santa Fe, El Rey de Ratons — will never defeat the Brave Nutcracker

Going for Baroque

The Loretto Chapel, famous for its miraculous staircase, offers the perfect architecture and ambiance for a concert of baroque music and Santa Fe Pro Musica takes full advantage of the backdrop for A Baroque Christmas. This beloved chamber orchestra has been delighting Santa Fe audiences for over 30 years, and the holiday concerts are a highly anticipated part of our holiday tradition. From Friday, December 20 straight through to Christmas Eve, Pro Musica offers two concerts nightly, alternating between a pair of fabulous mezzo-sopranos, Deborah Domanski and Dianna Grabowski. The program includes works by Baroque masters Bach, Telemann, and Handel, along with a selection of traditional carols guaranteed to bring old memories to new life. A very important heads up: Since the Loretto Chapel is an intimate (read: limited seating) venue, these concerts will definitely sell out to those whose holiday décor includes beautiful music.

The sonic glories of Baroque composers come annually to the beautiful Loretto Chapel thanks to Santa Fe Pro Musica
The sonic glories of Baroque composers come annually to the beautiful Loretto Chapel thanks to Santa Fe Pro Musica

Concerts to Cherish from Christmas to New Year’s and Beyond

I am so thankful that the Santa Fe Concert Association has been treating music-lovers like me to world-class talent for an astonishing 76 years, and this year’s slate of performances is no exception. The Association kicks off the winter season with A Celtic Holiday Concert at the Lensic on December 2, when The Leahy Family, eight Canadian brothers and sisters who’ve have been playing together all their lives, will set feet to tapping and hands to clapping with joyous and accomplished musicianship. Even when there’s a hint of a mournful minor key, Celtic music just makes me feel happy.

Hark to the holiday spirit with a merry Celtic mood when Santa Fe Concert Association welcomes the Leahy Family.
Hark to the holiday spirit with a merry Celtic mood when Santa Fe Concert Association welcomes the Leahy Family.

I’m totally psyched to hear The King’s Singers, the renowned ensemble of masculine voices, in their one-night-only performance at the Cathedral Basilica December 6. Their musicality melds in a medley of anything and everything from Mozart to Henry Mancini — guess we’ll just have to wait and see — I mean, hear — what’s on the music stands.

SFCA celebrates Christmas Eve with a festive concert at the Lensic, when conductor Joseph Illick leads the SFCA Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and welcomes soloist Caroline Goulding to perform a Beethoven Violin Concerto. The Concert Association’s holiday spirit toasts New Year’s Eve at a Lensic concert December 31, with guest soloist Claire Huangci, said to have “the fastest fingers in the world” joining Mr. Illick to perform Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, and a rendition of Brahms’ Second Symphony.

A Gala New Year’s Eve Dinner and Dance are in the works too, with fun and friends, drinks, dinner, and dancing to tunes by local favorite Soulstice — stay tuned to the SFCA website to hear more!

And if holiday music keeps you at home this year, the Concert Association still has something up the conductor’s sleeve when 2014 rolls round. Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is on the boards for January 10-12 in the stunning setting of the historic Scottish Rite Center. How often do you get to see a real Masonic temple so lovingly and vibrantly re-purposed? And best of all, these opera performances are free, yes, free!

Wrapped up in white, the architectural beauty of Santa Fe's St. Francis Cathedral is a holiday delight.
Wrapped up in white, the architectural beauty of Santa Fe’s St. Francis Cathedral is a holiday delight.

Harmonious Holidays Happen in Santa Fe
Are you hearing a delightful ditty already? Feel your feet tapping to a festive tune? Then make tracks to Santa Fe to compose magical musical memories for playback all year long. As J.K. Rowling says in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, “Ah, music … a magic beyond all we do here!” Santa Fe is tuned to the enchantment of holiday harmonies, and the more who join our party, the merrier it will be.

Summer in Santa Fe: Love at First Sound

Think of Santa Fe and you’re likely to conjure up visuals of dramatic sunsets, evergreen mountains, and earth-toned pueblo architecture. Well let me let you in on a little secret — Santa Fe is just as pleasing on the ears as it is on the eyes. You heard it here: Santa Fe is one heckuva music town, offering locals and visitors an awesome menu of musical attractions including pristine classical choral works, rootsy blues, and everything in between. And I do mean everything.

While music pulses through Santa Fe’s 400-year-old veins all year round, summer is the standout season to catch live music at a favorite venue, concert series, or dining spot, or to expand your musical horizons with something completely different. Summer is when laughter mingles with guitar strings in patios along Canyon Road, when drumbeats echo softly off the centuries-old buildings in the Plaza. Summer is when Santa Fe music is in full bloom.

Here are my liner notes on how to experience Santa Fe’s summer music smorgasbord. Post here to tell me about yours.

400 Years Old and Still Partying All Week

Throughout the summer Santa Fe’s stately 400-year-old Plaza takes center stage, literally, for our beloved summer concert series, Santa Fe Bandstand. The series revs up June 21, with free live music 4–5 nights a week, and at noon on Mondays and Wednesdays (now that’s my idea of a “working lunch”). Night or day, Santa Fe Bandstand faithfully delivers soul-shaking sounds and laughter-inducing times. Make no mistake, this is summer at it’s feel-good best. Hips will be shaken, and arms will be waved, as audiences revel Americana, country swing, R&B, rock, New Mexican folk, indie, and world music. The night I caught one of my faves, Band of Heathens from Austin, I danced so much I could barely move in yoga class the next day, but it was so worth it.

Image: Mike Hearn playing for a packed Plaza at the Santa Fe Bandstand, photo credit Nichael Dellheim

If I’m not wearing my dancing shoes, and want to spend some time relaxing with my friends, I take in the Bandstand sounds from what locals consider the “best seats in the house”: the quaint restaurant balconies overlooking the Plaza. Perched above the lively crowd, loungers, people-watchers, and nibblers (like moi) can enjoy a light dinner while sipping a margarita, a local microbrew, or a local wine.

Put Santa Fe Bandstand on your summer must-do list, and experience downtown Santa Fe’s greatest hits of sounds, sights, and flavors. Check out the awesome lineup to plan your summer concert playlist. 

Opera Opens Up in Santa Fe

Summer in Santa Fe means opera. And that means spine-chilling performance, spectacular staging, and fun — yes, fun. Founded in 1957, The Santa Fe Opera has garnered global acclaim for its artistic excellence, and local adoration for its engaging personality. Notions of the stuffy opera house with bejeweled aristocrats need not apply.  At The Santa Fe Opera works are often set in contemporary times, and digital librettos at each seat allow you to follow along in English or Spanish. Opera novices and veterans alike will find plenty to love in a five-opera season that offers a mix of works ranging from treasured classics to avant-garde world premiers.

Image: Another fab sunset at the Santa Fe Opera- stage set, Peter Grimes.” Photo credit: Ken Howard

The Santa Fe Opera is an experience that transcends classical music. The opera’s open-sided auditorium showcases Santa Fe sunsets and occasional lightning flashes as dramatic as anything in Puccini’s catalogue. Pre-opera tailgating, every bit as eclectic as it sounds, is an event unto itself. And dining at the opera’s gourmet buffet tops bucket lists far and wide (make reservations months in advance, tables are limited). Note: fret not about finding that perfect opera outfit, anything goes here — from jeans to black tie.

Put your opera hang-ups aside, and see how lively, romantic, and entertaining it can be. For tickets and information, visit the online box office.

Thank God It’s Wednesday

Forget the midweek slump as Wednesday oh-so-smoothly gets its groove back with what many consider the quintessential Santa Fe summer music experience: Music on the Hill. Wednesdays from mid-June to late July, these free outdoor concerts, sponsored by St. John’s College, are all jazz, all the time. The series boasts a potent mix of national and local musicians, and an equally eclectic audience of diehards, newbies, hipsters, families, and unabashed jazz dolls and daddy-o’s.

Image: Music on the Hill. Credit Corrie Ph

Set on a lovely mountainside meadow, Music on the Hill invites audiences to satisfy their appetites for great jazz and great food. It’s a BYO venue, which means you can feast on your favorite local delicacies while you listen. Truth be told, Music on the Hill not only cured my jazz-phobia, it introduced me to a fabulous subculture of power-picnickers, generous foodies eager to share artisan cheese, fresh baguettes, tempting chocolate, and local wine. No worries if you’re too busy to bring your own picnic. Just grab a delightful snack or savory dinner from the on-site catering stands. For a choice spot, arrive well before the 6 pm start time. Parking is limited, so do like the locals and take the convenient shuttle, which departs from Museum Hill every 15 minutes.

The Summer Classics

Image: A packed St. Francis Auditorium photo credit: InSightFoto Inc.

One of my first encounters with Santa Fe happened in New York, when I saw a Georgia O’Keefe poster promoting one of the early seasons of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. So naturally, when I moved to Santa Fe, I had to check it out.

During this 6-week festival running mid July through late August you can luxuriate in the gorgeous sounds of some of the world’s greatest musicians. The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival presents chamber music across a spectrum that ranges from legendary composers to classical music vanguards. Evening concerts at the intimate and historic St. Francis Auditorium or the fabulous New Mexico Art Museum offer a soothing summer breeze of sound. Insider tip: catch a show then meet a friend for tapas and wine. Festival concerts begin at 5 or 6 pm with one-hour concerts Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon.

The Best Seat in Santa Fe for Can’t-Miss Performances

Image: Blues musician, Eric Bibb, onstage at the Lensic photo credit: Kate Russell

While Santa Fe’s summer music festivals roll on, locals and visitors can often enjoy a 1-night-only concert by a national touring artist or must-see performance troupe at Santa Fe’s premier concert venue, the Lensic Performing Arts Center. In a city recognized for its adobe architecture, the Lensic does more than just stand out. This Deco building, built in 1931, offers marvelous acoustics and an intimate setting that makes audience members feel like they’re at a private show, with the likes of Darius Brubeck, a solo acoustic show from Grateful Dead co-founder guitarist and vocalist Bob Weir, and folk icon Arlo Guthrie. Peruse upcoming events, and then enjoy your favorite sounds in a fabulous setting steps from the Plaza.

If Your Grass Is Blue

Image: Band Scramble event onstage at the Bluegrass & Old Time Festival photo credit: Peter Escherick

Summer music season in Santa Fe winds down the weekend before Labor Day at the annual Bluegrass & Old Time Festival. Okay, I’ll admit it: I have been known to obsess over O Brother Where Art Thou, and it only had a little to do with George Clooney. You see, I grew up listening to my granddad’s Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe records; I’ve been a big fan of bluegrass forever. The festival, held every year since 1975 at the County Fairgrounds, is the perfect place for me to revisit my roots and dance like I’m in the holler — minus the overalls.

Enjoy a variety of folk music genres here, from traditional Appalachian to Celtic, from nationally known acts to artists playing the New Mexico scene. Or dive into classes, workshops, talent contests, and more.

Tune In to Summer in Santa Fe

Music rules Santa Fe all summer, and you never have to go far to find it. Sounds from across the globe fill the air from the Plaza to the Railyard to the museum district and beyond. Come drink in Santa Fe summer goodness with vibrant performances, funky festivals, and classical delights. We’re saving a seat for you.