Live Taos Arts, Entertainment and Living in Taos Thu, 25 May 2017 04:26:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Teatro Serpiente’s Annual Gorilla Theater Festival Thu, 25 May 2017 03:35:35 +0000 It's their fifth one, and boy is it going to be good!

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Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants such as armed civilians or irregulars use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military.

  • As defined by Wikipedia

Gorilla Theater is a form of irregular theater in which small groups of participants from all over Northern New Mexico employ all of the tactics related above to make theater not war on an unsuspecting audience all within the span of 32 hours.

  • As defined by Teatro Serpiente

Saturday, May 27th at Taos Mesa Brewing, Teatro Serpiente is extremely proud to present the most spontaneous, raucous, nerve wracking, emotionally explosive theater event of the year — our fifth annual Gorilla Theater Festival.

Participants at least year’s Gorilla Theater IV

Here’s how it all happens. For the past two weeks we’ve been actively recruiting our friends, colleagues, comrades in arms, strangers we see on the street that happen to have a twinkle of mischief in their eye, to write and/or act in this down and dirty theatrical undertaking. We know they’re busy, who isn’t? So, we sell them on the fact that it’s only one day of their lives. We encourage them with the knowledge that in order for this show to be a success we need their unique talents as a human being. We prey on their unbridled desire to claim their 15 minutes of fame in front of their friends and family and finally get their ass on stage. And if all of this cajoling and pleading still falls short we hit them with the undisputable fact that there will be delicious beer.

When that’s all said and done we usually assemble a motley enthusiastic band of 30+ individuals from the community ranging between ages 14-70 from all different walks of life that are crazy enough to live our dream of writing and acting original theater solely because we can.


Gorilla Theater Festival

Scott Tennant acting his face off at the first Gorilla theater 2012

Friday morning May 26th, the clock starts ticking!  The dedicated souls who signed up to write recieve a theme and one prop. Thrown to the wolves or sent on their merry way depending on whether you’re a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person, the writers then have 24 hours to produce either a short flash play between 3-5 minutes in length or for a lucky select few (again glass half full) a short one act between 8-10 minutes in length. Stage One complete.


Stage Two: theater madness ensues. Saturday morning May 27th, the adrenaline junkies of the art world assemble at Taos Mesa Brewing to brave sun, wind, and a full day of frantic memorizing to receive their scripts. They have 8 hours to turn the writers’ 24 hour opuses into something stage worthy.

Stage Three: showtime. 7 p.m. on Saturday May 27th you, the willing victim of our theater maelstrom, arrive at Taos Mesa Brewing, settle in with a frosty beer, and witness some seriously raw untamed theater.

And maybe you’re asking so what? What’s the big deal, what’s the point? Unfortunately the reality of our answer can only be conveyed through Vulcan mind-meld as it’s a melody of colors, whispered scents of emotion, soul stirring poetry and puppies. But here’s a stab at it — theater is a conversation where there’s an unspoken agreement to listen. Audience and actors both suspend their disbelief and immerse themselves in a reality outside of themselves to talk about what it means to be human. Distilling that experience into 32 hours leaves no time for doubts or polished arguments about ossified opinion. It does however offer an opportunity to find out what lies beneath. Interested? Doors open at 6 p.m. Cover $10. Theater, mayhem, good food and beer! See you there.

Gorilla Theater Festival

Friends, family and the community having a great time at Gorilla Theater 2014

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Tonal Ranger 2.0: Recent wrap-up and other musings Wed, 17 May 2017 16:40:14 +0000 Andy brings you a quick rundown of some things you might like.

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Listen to Tonal Ranger Radio every other Wednesday (or something like that) from 1 to 4 p.m., MST, on KNCE 93.5 FM, to hear songs from the albums reviewed in this space, and so much more interesting new music.  

Authors Note: Be it due to a dearth of music that punches me in the gut or an inability to commit myself to the time it takes to let said music form a big old fist sandwich, I decline to formally review any albums in this edition of Tonal Ranger 2.0. Instead, I am offering a wrap-up of recently released albums that I think could possibly elicit a response given the proper time and space.

credit Eli Moore

Forever Or Never

by LAKE (Tapete Records)

Married duo Ashley Eriksson and Elijah Moore continue to create their own loving recreations of classic 1970s AM radio. Eriksson and Moore trade songwriting and lead vocal duties, and keep things smooth and light in the tradition of Emerson and the earlier, lower-cased Lake (but not Palmer, geez … that guy). LAKE isn’t the only one treading these “sacred” waters, but they were one of the first and still one of the best.

My Bones Are Singing

by Those Lavender Whales (Fork and Spoon)

Sometimes a band comes along with a name so bad that you just know the music is going to suck, and then, almost miraculously, it doesn’t. Those Lavender Whales are one of those bands like that, with a bad name, who somehow rise above their self-imposed pulchritude to make a pretty good record. Hey, you know what though? This is a good album born from difficult, not-funny, circumstances. Band leader Aaron Graves wrote most of the songs after learning he had a brain tumor. Luckily, the songs aren’t about having cancer, not directly anyhow, but they do contain some serious soul searching, and some lovely melodies.

credit Marc Gabor

The Dream

by Tashaki Miyaki (Metropolis Records)

Sweet L.A. pop that owes as much to the city’s film history as it does its storied musical traditions, The Dream is one of those albums that is just really easy to listen to; I mean, if you think that Linda Ronstadt fronting the Jesus and Mary Chain is something that might be easy to listen to, or if you liked Rilo Kiley, but always wished they weren’t quite so “mainstream.”

credit Jimmy Jimenez

Whiteout Conditions

by The New Pornographers (Collected Works Records)

Even on what might be the worst album of the band’s 20-year career, Carl Newman and company hit some serious high notes, including the Neko Case-fronted “Play Money,” the title track and “Colosseums.” The truth is, Newman doesn’t really write bad songs, but this album isn’t quite as epic or marvelous as it’s predecessor, 2014’s Brill Bruisers. Still though, some of these songs are pretty good.


by Hovvdy (Double Double Whammy)

Lo-fi, down-tempo shoegaze, Taster is like a sweet dream that you’ll never remember. The Austin duo of Charlie Martin and Will Taylor released this album in 2016 on cassette tape, but now folks everywhere can have these soothing sounds thanks to the folks at the awesomely named Double Double Whammy record label. In spite of both band members being drummers, they manage to find some intriguing and interesting melodies.

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Taos Lilac Festival May 19th-May 21st Tue, 16 May 2017 22:43:28 +0000 Walk downtown this weekend and get a whiff of spring!

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Taos Lilac FestivalSpring is in the air, well, most of the time. Despite our uniquely fickle weather here in Taos, it’s time to celebrate. This weekend the Taos Lilac Festival is in full bloom. Our town is be-speckled with the radiant purples and whites of these elegant flowers. The site of lilac blooms coupled with their oh-so-nostalgic smell often evokes potent memories and has been proven to put a smile on your face.

The Taos Lilac Festival is held every year the weekend between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. This is it’s fourth year and the weekend long event features unique events like a Lilac 5k Fun Run, a taco cook-off in Kit Carson Park, an Arts & Crafts Fair and a pet parade. For the full schedule of events visit

The Taos Lilac Festival is an entirely volunteer coordinated event. Its mission is a year round effort to improve the appeal of Taos’ public spaces, especially roadsides and community areas featuring… you guessed it, lilacs. The Lilac Festival has spearheaded two major town wide clean-ups, including a prune and replant of lilacs in Sierra Vista Cemetery.

The main command center of the festival is the Lilac Garden Center and Information Booth provided by Rio Grande Ace Hardware. The booth is run by Taos’ own Los Jardineros Gardening Club. They will be on site during the daytime in Kit Carson Park offering lilac gardening and care tips. All things lilac will also be for sale — whether you’re shopping for your very own shrub to bring springtime joy to your garden or just jonesing for  some lilac scented soap, the Garden Center has it! And, in addition to all the fun activities happening right in Kit Carson Park, the information booth also provides maps with self-guided walking tours throughout historic downtown.

So, no matter what the weather, although as of now the forecast appears delightful, make it a point to wake up this weekend and smell the roses… and lilacs!


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A Conversation with John Biscello Tue, 16 May 2017 21:16:05 +0000 Clint talks to John about his home, heroes and art.

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It’s 11:30 in the morning on Easter Sunday and I’m fast approaching deadline — the only way I seem able to work. I’ve lost my leather clad journal containing the notes for this interview somewhere in the chaos of my office, a maelstrom of books, scraps of paper with incoherent rantings scribbled upon them, bicycle and motorcycle parts along with the detritus of ski season mixed freely with freshly washed but unfolded (and likely to remain so) laundry. I have a dozen reasons not to write; the garden needs attention. The dishes need  washing. It’s too nice outside. It’s a struggle anyone who has ever sat down to put words to page will be familiar with; the resistance inherent to the creative process. For John Biscello, this is anathema. With three published books and a recently completed fourth, along with multiple play writing and performance credits, he may well be Taos’ own version of musician James Taylor, “The hardest working man in show business.” His most recently published novel “Raking The Dust”  is a thinly veiled autobiographical romp through a town that reads suspiciously like a dark version of Taos. So the sun is shining. My bike needs riding. I know what John would tell me. “If you want to be a writer, write”. We’re just going to have to wing it on this one. Here we go.

CM:  Being born and raised in Brooklyn appears to have had an influence on your writing…

JB:  Definitely. Just the other day, I was thinking about hanging out on the street corner, hanging out in front of  the train station — we’d all hang out there and there was this riotous energy, almost this social club of our neighborhood, being either at the park or the train station, drinking, smoking all that. But the level of the firecracker dialogue, the level of, you know, brutal sarcasm, helped thicken my skin. And I was like pretty much middle of the pack, as far as being able  to dish it out, but there were some who you just couldn’t touch, there were like the Dons of sarcasm, they were just so witty and quick and they would have no problem going for the throat. Some people had almost it felt like, no conscious or compunction. Anyway, I was thinking how in regards to me, in some ways that became a component of my storytelling — dialogue, especially dialogue and developing an ear. Like a lot of witticisms and put downs, really fast and quick you know, or just puns and verbage. And then coupled with that, I had my own private world, my nerdy part of being in books and reading and I think at some point the two began to sort of meld together.

CM:  So when did you start writing?

JB:  Oh man, when I was a kid, like pretty young. Because I was so into comic books and detective stories. Do you remember how at the end of comics, there’d be a preview of what was going to happen next issue?  Like cliffhangers? I remember writing serialized stories about the Red Falcon, who was my hero when I was young. I’d write these stories, and I’d imagine that I had a huge audience and that they were all waiting for the next issue to come out. Jack Booker was my detective series.

CM: Brooklynites of your era are notoriously “homebound.”  What caused you to leave the neighborhood?

JB: I feel like what really opened up my world was when I started going into the city [New York] for an editorial internship I had at a parenting magazine. It’s a funny thing about where I grew up, even though the city is right there, it seemed far and scary to us. We had our neighborhood. It was its own place. We didn’t go over the bridge, I didn’t take the train a lot. So it was this faraway land, even though in reality it’s only like 20-40 minutes away. So when I began to work in the city, suddenly I was exposed to all these different types of people and ideas. My neighborhood, as is true of many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, it’s almost like an enclave of singular thinking. I also really liked when I began to travel, [I] liked coming back home. I always felt a little like Kerouac, because even though I’m out having these great adventures, I always came home, to Mom and Grandma and the place I grew up in.

CM: Kerouac’s a hero of yours, isn’t he?

JB: Yeah, he was a big influence, definitely. Other than school, I didn’t have much of a literary education. So when I first discovered Kerouac, at age 18, and it was the same with Bukowski, I go into work and I’m telling people “Hey, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this guy, Jack Kerouac, but he’s amazing!” And they’re looking at me, like “Yeah, we’ve heard of him.” It sounds funny, but up until that point, other than what we were assigned to read in school, I was mostly into true crime, horror, serial killer type stuff. I used to think that if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a killer, because I didn’t know what to do with all of my anger and rage.

So anyway, when I discovered Kerouac, I thought — here’s a whole other way of telling a story. Because of the verve and the intensity and obviously there’s the whole spirit of… I think what’s so great is, forget about all the drugs and the sex, all that aside, I think what will never go out of style for him is just the exuberance and the spirit of boyhood.

CM:  Right, there’s very much a sense of innocence. There’s some of that in “Raking the Dust”, where even though Alex is this kind of condemnable character, he’s also childlike enough that we end up forgiving him.

JB:  I wrote “Raking the Dust” in the process of getting sober, which actually changed a lot of the revision and the last third of the book. The original ending, I feel, was much darker and more enigmatic. It actually ended with Alex looking in the mirror and watching himself disappear, piece by piece.

CM:  Do you feel that getting sober has changed your writing?

JB:  (After a long pause) Absolutely. Although even when I was drinking, I was always very disciplined and I’ve never been one to drink and write at the same time. I always wanted to honor the process, have always had a great reverence for it. Also one of my greatest fears has always been that I might squander something, wake up one day and see that I’d ruined myself. And yet, I wanted to be able to ruin myself and write, to keep both things in my life.

CM:  You’re not only a novelist, you’re a playwright, a teacher, a cinemaphile. Do you feel more aligned with one of those things than another, or do you feel that they all kind of weave together?

JB:  I would say at this point in my life that movies have as much influence on my life as literature, if not more, especially in the last year or so. I go into phases where I’ll study different directors or styles. I kind of set it up that way, like a curriculum. And so I’m watching how they frame shots, or the lighting or themes that are repeated, like that’s the beauty for me — when someone has a vision, and it’s like that vision extends beyond a single film, like David Lynch. Actually, what I’m working on now, [Nocturne Variations], is so heavily influenced by cinema, thinking in terms of shots and framework. I love this idea of blending so many different forms, almost a collage of styles.

CM:  How important is it for you, as a writer, to be a reader?

JB:  I feel like it’s not possible to be one without the other. Maybe it was Ginsberg? Who said that you should read three or five times as much as you write. I didn’t go to college. I took writing courses, but I feel like not having that continual frame of reference would be limiting. 

CM: Can you speak a little to the literary scene of Taos, as an artists community?

JB: There’s such an influx of new ideas — The Paseo, Taos Shortz, Misfits, Malcontents and Mystics. I feel, more than being specifically literary that Taos is a hub of creativity and that hasn’t changed. I really dig this contrast of the cosmopolitan blending with this ancient, rustic vibe.

in addition to his various other artistic pursuits john also runs several youth writing & acting programs throughout the year. For Information on his two upcoming summer camps email him at

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Roots + Wires Brings Dengue Fever to Taos Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:03:55 +0000 Celebrate Roots + Wires 20th Anniversary this Tuesday, May 2nd!

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Two decades is a long time to commit yourself to doing something — anything — much less something that doesn’t necessarily pay the bills. But that’s what Roots + Wires John Henderson and Jerry Schwartz have been doing with Roots + Wires Reggae Sound System, a radio show that has been bringing music from all over the world to Taos, for 20 years.

To put things in perspective, in 1997 Bill Clinton was sworn in for his second term as president, Tara Lipinski became the youngest world-champion figure skater, Timothy McVeigh was convicted for his role in the bombing of the Murrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City and 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide in San Diego, with hopes of catching an extraterrestrial spaceship following the Hale-Bopp Comet, which was visible with the naked eye early that same year.

In 1999, the radio show spawned Roots + Wires Presents, a concert promotion business that has been able to bring many of the amazing world music artists and blues musicians to Taos over the years.

“When we started, there wasn’t really anything happening with touring artists coming to Taos, other than the annual Solar Fest,” Henderson says. “Our vision has always been about creating a music scene in Taos — like there is in places like Aspen or Telluride. After 20 years, Taos certainly has a scene now and I think it is something that really brings people together and makes our community stronger.”

To celebrate their anniversary, Roots + Wires Presents is hosting L.A.-based Cambodian and American rock band Dengue Fever, at Taos Mesa Brewing’s Mothership on May 2. The veteran band features lead singer Chhom Nimol, who sings in Khmer and English. Musically, the band, which was started by brothers Ethan and Zac Holtzman, performs a blend of Cambodian pop, psychedelia and surf rock; basically a group of sounds that was very popular in Cambodia’s thriving 1960’s music scene before the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge.

“We’ve tried to get them here for a long time,” Henderson says. “They’ve been on the road opening for Tinariwen, and this will be their only show in New Mexico. “We’re looking forward to supporting this band. They’ve kept this style of music alive and we certainly like the originals and the roots of the music, but we also like when younger artists start taking the music in new directions.”

The Roots + Wires Reggae Sound System has had a solid home base for nearly three years, since Henderson and Schwartz joined forces with other other members of the community to help start KNCE, 93.5 FM. Roots + Wires Presents also now promotes all of its shows at Taos Mesa Brewing.

“The early years were fun and I am still amazed that we were able to bring artists to Taos when there was not really a venue,” says Henderson. “We have always been about presenting artists we like and making shows be more like a party.”

The party continues on May 2 at TMB. Visit Taos Mesa Brewing’s website for tickets and information, and connect with Roots + Wires Presents on Facebook to find news and information about other upcoming shows, including the annual summers shows in Arroyo Seco put on by the promoters’ nonprofit arm, Seco Live.


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Tonal Ranger 2.0: Father John Misty and Craig Finn Wed, 26 Apr 2017 10:15:29 +0000 Artists take macro/micro approaches to human interaction

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Artists take macro/micro approaches to human interaction

Listen to Tonal Ranger Radio every other Wednesday (or something like that) from 1 to 4 p.m., MST, on KNCE 93.5 FM, to hear songs from the albums reviewed in this space, and so much more interesting new music.

Pure Comedy

by Father John Misty (Sub Pop)

Grade: A-

At the center of Joshua Tillman’s third album of songs as Father John Misty — a convincingly portrayed Southern California singer/songwriter — is a slow, earnest, revelatory 13 minute, 12 second monologue that lays bare all of the truths of the character.

If “Leaving LA” is a goodbye letter from Misty, the character, then Pure Comedy is Tillman tearing down his character’s facade of sarcasm, irony and inside jokes. What he unleashes in its place is equal parts titillating and despair-inducing.

The album burns with a heavy-handed dose of disdain for the institutions of mankind — organized religion, government, fashion, hipster-ism, consumerism, capitalism … name your ism — but the lyrics betray a deeper message about our need to find ways to relate to one another.

Take for instance the title track, which opens the album with the premise that our entire existence was destined to fail. The final stanza leaves us with this realization:

The only thing that seems to make them feel alive is the struggle to survive
But the only thing that they request is something to numb the pain with
Until there’s nothing human left
Just random matter suspended in the dark
I hate to say it, but each other’s all we got

Elsewhere, Tillman envisions the aftermath of upending the system on “Things It Would’ve Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution.” The song is one of the album’s most compelling, lyrically describing a world that has been saved from the effects of climate change by reverting to more primitive means, all set to an ongoing orchestral rise and fall reminiscent of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” Think of it as a much-less whimsical cousin of Talking Heads’ “Nothing But Flowers.”

“Two Wildly Different Perspectives” may be the best effort on this album, a devastating takedown of our polarized political spectrum that spreads the blame to those “on both sides.”

Other highlights on the album include “Total Entertainment Forever” — a much-needed romp that briefly conceals Tillman’s cultural criticism with some great sax lines; “Ballad of the Dying Man” — a gorgeous tune where the narrator muses what horrible fate might befall the community without his criticism to keep them in line; and “When the God of Love Returns There Will Be Hell To Pay” — in which the deity is reminded that his greatest creation has evolved into something nearly unrecognizable, for better or worse.

The album is gorgeous throughout, but other tracks, like “Smoochie,” “The Memo” and “So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain” fail to make as much of as a statement as some of the aforementioned songs. Which is a pretty high bar.

To go back to “Leaving LA” for just a moment, the song is blatantly and ridiculously meta. At the same time, it’s perhaps as straight forward as Tillman has ever been while staying in character. The song fairly accurately predicts its own reaction from some sectors:

I’m beginning to begin to see the end

Of how it all goes down between me and them

Some 10-verse chorus-less diatribe

Plays as they all jump ship, “I used to like this guy

This new shit really kinda makes me wanna die”

And like that, the whole album is always just an uncomfortable grimace away from collapsing underneath its own weight. If you have the space and time to sit down and really listen, it’s quite an adventurous album. The music is grandiose and it’s beautiful, dark and melodramatic. It’s sometimes unbearable, but often intriguing. The winks and nods are gone, the jokes are over and Joshua Tillman is going to tell us how he really feels about mankind. He hates you. He loves you. Let’s have a drink and talk about it.

We All Want The Same Things

by Craig Finn (Partisan Records)

Rating: A

We All Want the Same Things, the third solo album from Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn is an album about the misadventures of characters young and not-so-young. A series of vignettes more than a concept album. Of course, Finn is no stranger to these types of characters, as they have populated his work since his work in the late ’90s Minneapolis band Lifter Puller.

However, the songwriting here offers some of Finn’s best work since the first four Hold Steady albums, and in the solo context allow for some of his most emotive work to date. While Father John Misty’s album examines mankind with a wide-angle lens and implores us all to seek deeper connections, Finn’s stories show us how beautiful and messy things can get when we actually make those connections.

Whether he’s lamenting an old friendship that revolved around bad habits (“Jester & June”), two friends/lovers celebrating whatever there is to celebrate (“Birds Trapped in the Airport”), the things we do for friends knowing it may not be in their best interest (“Ninety Bucks”) or a heartbreaking tale of grief, loss, drugs and escape (“God in Chicago”), this album is all about the complicated, confusing, liberating and sorrowful relationships people have with one another.

Finn’s speak-sing vocals are still a great means of delivery for his blue-collar stories, and never has it been more effective than on “God in Chicago,” the most devastatingly human song of his career.

Musically, album opener “Jester & June” sounds like it could’ve easily been a B-side from “Separation Sunday” but things quickly go in a different direction on the album’s second song, “Preludes,” which is also one of the album’s best. Driven by a catchy synth line and drums and sax, it’s an E-Street Band meets The Human League tale with lyrical allusions to some of Finn’s other favorite subjects: Catholicism, loner-ism and criminal activity.

These songs make it clear that Finn has negotiated how to differentiate his signature voice and songwriting style as a solo artist into something distinguishable from his work with The Hold Steady. The electrical flourishes throughout the album add more depth to Finn’s stories, as do some tasteful and interesting background vocals.

Other album high spots, of which there are many, include “Rescue Blues” and “Tangletown,” two more stories that highlight unusual or unexpected pairings of souls. We All Want The Same Things winds down with the horn-infused “Be Honest,” which is musically reminiscent of another aging storyteller, John Darnielle, and his most recent work with The Mountain Goats.

As Hold Steady fans age, and leave the rock and roll lifestyle behind, it’s good to know that Finn has got our backs, providing the rest of the story for his good-time characters who are now coming to realize that one day the party must end. Finn’s stories, his authenticity and his songwriting aren’t ending anytime soon, and are all the better for the transformation that comes with age.


Other recently released albums worth checking out:

French Press, by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (Sub Pop) — Melbourne, Australia band doles out some delicious indie rock

You’re Not As _____ As You Think, by Sorority Noise (Triple Crown Records) — Emo-ish punk, good hooks, good lines.

Little Star, by Little Star (Good Cheer Records) — Sophomore effort from eclectic Porland duo.

Ilusíon, by Gaby Moreno (Metamofosis Enterprises Limited) — Bi-lingual soul, jazz and R&B from Los Angeles-based, Guatemala-born artist.

Imaginary Enemies, by Hiccup (Father/Daugther Records) — Debut from band who brings fuzzed out guitars and sweet harmonies.

A Crow Looked At Me, by Mount Eerie (P.W. Elverum & Sun) — Phil Elverum documents the loss of his wife with a beautiful, honest set of songs.

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March for Science: A Taoseña Checks Out the Scene Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:15:14 +0000 Mel brings back reflections from last weekend's March for Science

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March Science Santa Fe

When the Women’s March happened globally on January 21st, there was one held in neighboring Santa Fe, and it seemed like everybody in Taos was going. The event on Facebook showed twenty-four of my friends as “going,” I heard of carpools meeting at two different locations in town, and my newsfeed was flooded with snapshots of people making signs in the days leading up to it.

But prior to the Science March on April 22nd, it seemed like nobody from Taos was going. My newsfeed was silent: no pics of signs, nobody from Taos marked as “going” on the Facebook event, and no carpools, despite my asking around on my own page and a few others. The word that popped into my mind was “crickets.” To tell you the truth, I wasn’t that surprised. The Women’s March happened immediately after the inauguration, with everyone still reeling from the shock of it, and everyone feeling desperate to make their voices heard. As time has gone on, a new reality has settled in—one that shows we are getting somewhat numbed to the way things are. Not to say there isn’t still action being taken, but it’s definitely somewhat subdued.

March Science Santa Fe

Or perhaps it’s that people see feminism as more urgent—that our so-called president’s actions against women need more vocal support than his actions against the mother of us all: the earth. I’m not sure what the reason is, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed that it seemed people just didn’t care about this one.

March Science Santa FeI feared that when I arrived in Santa Fe, it would be less of a march and more of a mini-rally, given the lack of response I had seen online. I did not attend the Women’s March, and so I have nothing to compare it to, but I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. It probably was a smaller crowd, but it seemed a respectable size to me. There was a decidedly cheerful vibe; people were smiling and laughing, taking photos on their cell phones, and generally having a good time.

The Science March was presented as nothing more than a politically-neutral, pro-science event. But many of us can’t help but feel this is our chance to take direct aim at those we feel are decidedly anti-science. Their actions affect us directly and it is our right to speak up about it. My takeaway is that people are still showing up; still making their voices heard. Whether it’s through marches on the ground, or more direct action like writing letters and making phone calls, we still show up. But the most important thing anyone can do besides calling, besides marching, besides posting on social media is: VOTE. Remember that next time there is an election, local or national. VOTE. That’s when I do expect you to show up.

Santa Fe March for Science

All photos by Mel A. James

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High Frequency Loft: An Idea whose time has come—to Taos Thu, 20 Apr 2017 01:05:56 +0000 The High Frequency Loft raises our mountain vibrations to their highest

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A series of synchronicities have brought the High Frequency Loft to Taos.

Or rather, synchronicities have brought both Alana Lee and Colton Silva, co-founders of High Frequency Loft, who carry San Francisco in their bodies, to Taos.

They also carry the habits of mindful movement and hosting uplifting events—their dual inspirations for opening the High Frequency Loft in Taos—in their bodies, and it shows in everything they do.

Things like hopping in a car and driving from San Francisco to Taos in December 2016. Like seeking out and finding a hip live-work space that serves as both their home and their new business on Gusdorf. Like transmuting their varied backgrounds in sports, circus play, and acroyoga into a dynamic new offering in Taos. Within just four months of their arrival, they have opened the doors on the High Frequency Loft, where they host everything from yoga classes to Kirtan to movie nights, all in a family-friendly, sober atmosphere.

High Frequency Loft

But then, these kinds of choices are in character for both Alana, a trained gymnast, dancer, yoga instructor, and (get this) horse-vaulting extraordinaire, and Colton, an experienced athlete and trainer. Together, they instruct Introduction to Acroyoga, an aerobic form of partner yoga focused on engaging and strengthening core muscles. While they are both quite practiced and model advanced acroyoga poses with ease, they emphasize the accessibility of the poses for beginners. They encourage curious community members, including those with little to no experience in yoga, to come try an Intro to Acroyoga class Fridays at 3pm, an Acroyoga class for Ninja Kids Fridays at 11am and/or an Acro Warrior Teens class Fridays at 2pm. They also host a variety of daytime classes, including belly dancing, pilates, and yoga flow, taught by a diverse group of local instructors. As they are quick to point out, teens are welcome to join any adult class.

At High Frequency Loft, Alana and Colton offer classes by day and host a series of events at night. Collaboration with other local professionals and groups has been an early and impressive feat for this duo. They have made several connections in the community already, including friends of theirs at FREQ Streetwear, Neopasado Food Truck, and Taos Alive. In fact, many of these partnerships have already led to class and event ideas, such as an all-ages Zentangle drawing meditation class with Sue Leslie on April 21st at 9:30am and an Essential Oil Spring Cleanse with Jeanne Collins on April 30th at 2pm. A Kirtan, live music with singing and chanting, will be led by Alana Grier and held on April 29th at 7pm. Thursday nights feature Ecstatic Dance with DJ Julia Daye. Upcoming movie nights include a screening of the animated film Moana on April 21st at 6pm and of the documentary What the Health? On May 19th at 6:30pm.

High Frequency Loft

The space transforms from a yoga studio to a concert hall to a movie theatre as needed, evolving and multi-purpose, depending on the specific needs of each event. One thing that does not shift is their incredible energetic presences holding space, and that all of the events in this venue are alcohol-free. Actually, Alana and Colton even recommend not drinking before attending events in the space, to get the clearest experience (and highest frequencies) possible of what the space has to offer. However, these events are not food-free. Neopasado Food Truck will cater delicious, wholesome meals (by donation) for many of the upcoming High Frequency Loft events.

Both Alana and Colton want to foster a sense of community in their new space. They seek “to offer what’s not here” elsewhere in Taos (Alana) and “a place to come re-center” (Colton). Their energetic approach to yoga and family-friendly, sober events with a goal of raising the vibrations here in Taos are what they see as setting them apart. They also emphasize that this is not a hangout space; it is meant for purposeful activities. For example, when they teach vinyasa yoga poses, the aim is “to build internal heat through movement and breath through linking poses, moving from pose to pose, to be present, and to engage in cardio, strength, and balance training” (Alana). In other words, don’t expect to come to High Freqency Loft and simply lie around. This is a charged, active place, which one glance at their schedule of upcoming classes  and events will tell you.

High Frequency Loft

Last but certainly not least, the space is also available for rentals on evenings and weekends. Other individuals or groups interested in renting the space can charge entry for an event or host a free, by donation only event. High Frequency Loft assists in promoting events in their space. Call 758.7852 for more information about rentals.

So there you have it, a vibration-raising, toe-tapping, thought-provoking, yoga pose-inducing, healthy habit-forming, circus-inspiring wonder space, newly opened and running in Taos. You may say, we have yoga here already. We have sports and movies and high vibrations already in Taos. All I can say is, not all together in one, sober, family-friendly space. Not in this way. This particular combination is a unique offering, one that could only have come from this combination of so many disparate elements, and from this particular set of synchronicities.

The High Frequency Loft is located at 1335 Gusdorf Road, Suite Q (next to the Taos Jewish Center and Defendu Academy). Hours of Operation are Mon-Sun, 7am-10pm. For more information call 575.758.7852 or email them at

All photos courtesy of Alana Lee.

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I Took Up Reading Wed, 19 Apr 2017 21:52:54 +0000 A Writer’s Profile on Ned Dougherty

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I took up runningNed Dougherty does not have a hidden agenda. As a person, as a writer, he seems to be more often revealing what is true than trying to pretend something else is there. He lays out words so that we can access something there all along, something flowing like a current underneath our everyday awareness. He’s a poet and a playwright, sure, but more like, he cuts through lies to find truth. It’s like he’s using words as diamonds.

We met briefly to talk about his work. I’d seen some of his poems, some of his recent work on I Took Up Running, a play he’s currently working on. But I hadn’t gotten a real sense of what makes him tick as a writer. I mean, why play with words at all?  So, I went back to his work, to see the words on the page. In order to learn something about his writing, I took up reading it. What I found was soulful and incisive.

Dougherty comes from many generations of a big Irish Catholic family in Philadelphia. He comes from a family of writers, including his Uncle Edward Dougherty, who wrote his nuclear family a poem and dedicated it to them long ago. Ned has been writing poetry since grade school. His first poem was for a girl, and then later on, he un-ironically penned suburban white kid raps in his free time. Over the years, of course, his writing topics and style matured, so that by the time he moved to Taos in 2007, he regarded himself as a serious writer. Since the 2007-2008 school year, he has worked as an educator in local private, charter, and public schools here in Taos. Many of the poems and plays he writes today could be seen as a scathing critique of public education in America today.

Maintaining a blog has been one way to shape and to store the fruits of Dougherty’s writing practice. When you visit the page, you find several poems and other writing experiments dating back to February 2012. One of my favorites is the poem Growing Up:

Ned Dougherty I Took Up Running

However, he has found that readership for the blog is limited, or else readers who do visit the site do not provide much feedback. Where the introvert needs the writing practice, the extrovert needs the feedback from the community; at this intersection comes the pleasant (well, if not always pleasant, then always useful) feedback loop involved in the process of playwriting—especially when work is given voice in a reading or full production. Since the 2016 production of Dougherty’s play Escape Plans at Metta Theatre, he has returned to the theme of American education with I Took Up Running.

In this new play, what he has created is a protagonist—a public school English teacher named Ms. Jones—who inherently contradicts herself, saying in Act II, “I’ve taken up running this year. I haven’t. But—…”  In this and other statements, Ms. Jones establishes herself as an unreliable narrator, one who propagates the public school agenda while undermining it at every turn. Dougherty admits, in writing this play, he is trying as an educator to make sense of what we are really achieving in public school these days. He notes that, while Ms. Jones is a protagonist trying to make meaning through relationships, nothing in public education is about that anymore—therefore, her methods of trying to connect with students come under scrutiny from the Principal, Mr. Foster. Dougherty is considering starting a blog in relation to the play, written in Ms. Jones’ voice and populated with stories “that Jones would write about if she actually did get to know her kids.”  The idea for the play—and the blog—stemmed from Dougherty’s real life experience of coming under scrutiny from his then-Principal in 2011 for writing poetry commenting on standardized tests.      

The local community theater troupe, Teatro Serpiente, plans to produce I Took Up Running sometime over the next year. In the meantime, look for Dougherty’s work online, published, and in the upcoming 2017 Gorilla Theater Festival this May. His work deserves attention, as the topics he’s covering deserve serious dialogue in Taos.





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Tonal Ranger 2.0: Spoon and The Shins Wed, 12 Apr 2017 09:43:55 +0000 Aching for the aughts

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Aching for the aughts

Listen to Tonal Ranger Radio every other Wednesday (or something like that) from 1 to 4 p.m., MST, on KNCE 93.5 FM, to hear songs from the albums reviewed in this space, and so much more interesting new music.

Author’s Note: I came of age during the ’80s and ’90s, and I certainly love a great deal of music from those two decades, however, I didn’t actually “find myself” until the ‘aughts,’ and part of that discovery process was connected to my love of turn-of-the-century indie rock.

Luckily, that wasn’t that long ago (seriously, it really wasn’t!), and many of those bands are still doing their thing. This week, we’re examining new albums from two such bands with regional connections (if you think of the entire Southwest as a region): Austin’s Spoon, and the biggest little band from Albuquerque, The Shins.

Hot Thoughts

by Spoon (Matador Records)

Grade: A-

Throughout the history of rock and pop music, some bands, and band leaders, have managed to merge their impeccable sense of taste as listeners into their own successful careers.

Think about it: without David Byrne’s interest in world music, specifically African sounds, the Talking Heads would not have been the band they were, nor would he still have an amazing solo career.

More recently, James Murphy parlayed his sound engineer gig, as well as his DJ talents (which no doubt displayed his love of bands like the aforementioned Talking Heads, The Fall, Suicide, Can and of course, The Velvet Underground) into one of the most successful indie recording and touring outfits of the last two decades: LCD Soundsystem.

Well, to bury the lede here, another taste-maker turned rock superhero is Britt Daniel, a skinny kid from East Texas who started turning teen angst and his love for bands like Pavement, Prince, David Bowie, The Pixies and of course, Can (after all, Spoon took their name from one of the German band’s songs).

Daniel and company hit pay dirt once again on Hot Thoughts, the band’s ninth album, though admittedly, this one wasn’t as instantly accessible as 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, or their most recent effort, They Want My Soul (2014).

Spoon: Forks? We don’t need no stinking forks. By Zackery Michael

While the album is clearly in the Spoon pocket of coolness, it’s perhaps even a little more high-art than previous efforts, and one might make the case that producer Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, among many others) bears some of that responsibility.

There are the expected and necessary amounts of crunchy, staccato guitar fills, and Daniel’s smoky, gritty lyrics, but there are new wrinkles to the Spoon sound. The bridge on the title track goes in a very spacey David Bowie direction (perhaps an homage?), while “Whisperl’lllistentohearit” does New Wave in reverse, starting out all New Order before heading more Joy Division midway through, before taking off into some other direction that involves light bits of tambourine of all things (OK, not a surprise really, Spoon loves the tambourine).

The album delivers throughout its 10 tracks, with songs like “Do I Have To Talk You Into It,” “Can I Sit Next To You,” and “Shotgun” providing the most ample amounts of Spoon swagger in this decade. The equally great “Tear It Down” provides us with Daniel’s most prescient lyric: let them build a wall around us, I’ll tear it down.

The singer claims it’s a song about empathy and not ill-fated national construction projects, but many of us should appreciate the sentiment in the song’s double entendre.

Perhaps the album’s strangest statement comes on the final track, “Us,” an ambient instrumental featuring panning saxophones amid percussion and synthesizers. It’s a five-minute cool-down reminiscent of Miami Vice or Risky Business. Is it just an invitation to chill after all those rock anthems, or a sign of things to come for the band? Hot Thoughts indeed.


by The Shins (Aural Apothecary/Columbia Records)

Grade: B+

Few bands exhibited the quirky spirit of indie rock in the early part of the century better than The Shins, once a collection of guys from Albuquerque who came to the attention of the world when their single “New Slang” was included on the soundtrack for Zach Braff’s romantic comedy with Natalie Portman, Garden State (2004).

That moment accelerated the band’s rise — though Oh, Inverted World (2001) and Chutes Too Narrow (2003) were critically acclaimed before Portman shared her headphones with Braff — and the band moved away from New Mexico, to Portland, and on to speakers and stages worldwide. In the years since, band leader James Mercer has cruised through far more band members than albums, with Heartworms being only The Shins’ fifth studio release.

Speaking of Heartworms, there’s a lot of feelings of nostalgia represented by Mercer, just as there are a lot of feelings of nostalgia by this author in this column.

Without going any further, it has to be noted that Mercer has always had one of the best voices of the indie-rock era, a “light tenor with a surprisingly strong lower range,” according to, a website about singing voices (this exists? I’m amazingly happy!).

James Mercer: Indie superhero or seasonal BLM employee? By Marisa Kula

Anyway, to use my own words now, Mercer still has the perfect tool for his whistful, whimsical, sometimes joyful, sometimes downtrodden brand of music, and Heartworms runs the emotional gamut and finds the singer in top form.

Lead single “Name for You” is as catchy as anything that will be released this year and “Mildenhall” is the apex of the album’s effective and not-at-all-trite sentimentalism; an acoustic reflection on Mercer’s Air Force brat high school education in England.

The songs are tight, the arrangements are dense and lovely, and yet, while one can certainly appreciate Mercer’s gifts as a songwriter and performer, I personally find that this collection of songs by “The Shins,” relatively speaking, is just pretty good. Not great. Mercer, in my opinion is at his best, when he meshes the eclectic whimsy with a little darkness, like on “Dead Alive,” or album highlight, “Half a Million.” Those moments are too few, interspersed amidst lighter fare. That said, the title track remains one of the album’s best, in spite of its damned upbeat infectiousness.

I’m conflicted.

On one hand, will Heartworms “change your life,” as Natalie Portman once foretold of another Shins’ album that may or may not have had that actual effect, but was in fact a great album? No, I don’t think it will.

On the other hand, that’s a mighty lofty goal for a darn pop music album, right? In fairness, Heartworms is another set of ultimately enjoyable music, from one of the finer craftsmen of the genre, and what could be bad about that?


Other recently released albums worth checking out:

  • Is A Woman, by Lambchop (Merge) — A reissue of the band’s 2002 album. I always say get all the Lambchop you can, when you can
  • Yours Conditionally, by Tennis (Mutually Detrimental/Thirty Tigers) — Denver duo writes catchy pop love songs whilst sailing the world. Why not?
  • Digging a Tunnel, by sir Was (City Slang) — A fun blend of well, everything.
  • Strange Constellations, by William Matheny (Misra Records) – Pre-Americana alt-country from when country rock was fun, but released just a month or so ago.

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