Live Taos Arts, Entertainment and Living in Taos Sat, 22 Apr 2017 14:34:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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Tonal Ranger 2.0: Grandaddy and Jesca Hoop Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:17:01 +0000 Favorites old and new

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Favorites old and new

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: There’s something inherently silly about writing about music — the old saying that it’s like “dancing about architecture” always comes to mind — but it’s something I think many people enjoy doing anyway, myself included. And hey, who doesn’t do a little jig when they see the Sistine Chapel or even the Sears Tower?

In the case of the Tonal Ranger columns, I think it’s nice that it accompanies Tonal Ranger Radio, my show that appears on KNCE 93.5 FM on Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m., just about every-other-week (give or take some scheduling mayhem).

Readers can tune in and see if the music stacks up to the words I have assigned them, and likewise, listeners can direct themselves to to find out more about the music they hear, and hopefully enjoy.

I try to write almost exclusively about music that I enjoy, so if you enjoy the radio program, it’s very likely that you’ll enjoy the column, and vice versa. Now, onto a couple of albums and artists that I really like; next week I’ll post a video of my interpretive dance in response to the Santa Fe Opera House (just kidding).

Last Place

by Grandaddy (30th Century Records)

Grade: A-

In the late 1990s and early aughts, when we were all afraid of everything all of the time — whether it be the threat of another 9/11-style terrorist attack or the countless technology related perils of the modern age — there was a group of bands who confronted the anxiety head-on.

The template was set with Radiohead’s OK Computer, but other notable entries into the catalog of albums dealing with new fears in a new millennia included Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin, Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs, and The Sophtware Slump from Modesto, California’s Grandaddy. The 2000 album was the band’s second full-length, following 1997’s Under the Western Freeway. The breakthrough album is still critically acclaimed as one of the best albums of the decade and of the band’s career.

The band followed that up with 2003’s Sumday and 2006’s Just Like the Fambly Cat, an album that stood as the band’s swan song for more than a decade.

Grandaddy leader Jason Lytle released two solo albums in the meantime, in addition to one album with his side project Admiral Radley, which also features members of Earlimart.

And now, after a decade of thinking we would never hear new music from Grandaddy, the band has delivered Last Place. The album is either a more fitting end to the catalog than Fambly Cat, or the start of a new chapter for the band, only time will tell.

Lytle has always seemingly been obsessed with the confluence of nature and modern technology, whether he’s singing about a “Broken Household Appliance National Forest” (The Sopthware Slump), an office field trip to the woods (“The Group Who Couldn’t Say” — Sumday), or “freeway trees with no love in their leaves” from this album’s “Evermore.”

In fact, in every respect, from lyrical content to the band’s signature blend of old synthesizers, crunchy guitars and Lytle’s Neil Young-ish croon, there’s no reason to believe this album would have been much different had it been released in 2008 or 2009.

While Last Place doesn’t match the creative peak of the Sophtware Slump/Sumday era, it does seem to have more in common with those albums than Fambly Cat or Western Freeway, or even Lytle’s more recent solo efforts.

One track, the brief instrumental “Oh She Deleter,” shares a title (minus the “Oh”) with the B-side from The Sopthware Slump’s lead single “The Crystal Lake,” while one of that album’s central characters, a hard-drinking robot named Jed, returns on this album for “Jed the 4th.”

That said, Lytle’s tells are easy to read, and while “Way We Won’t,” with its jubilant celebration of suburban isolation, gels nicely with the theme on those two albums, it could just have easily been on the Admiral Radley album. And “Check Injin” could be another song about Todd Zilla, the brutish Central Valley bro who served as the inspiration for the band’s 2005 EP, “Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla.”

Following Grandaddy’s separation in 2006, Lytle moved from Modesto to Montana and eventually to Portland, Oregon. The quirky and hilarious “I Don’t Wanna Live Here Anymore” reflects the songwriter’s difficulties finding a place that feels worthy of the word “home,” while “Brush with the Wild” is one of the album’s most joyful breakup songs.

Which reminds me, apparently this album is inspired by Lytle’s recent divorce (this is a troubling trend in recent Tonal Ranger reviews). This becomes more and more apparent as the album moves along.

Early in the song cycle, songs such as “Evermore” manage a certain duplicity — it could be an ode to love lost, or it could just as easily be a fan missing fellow Central Valley band Pavement, with its “drop a note for Stockton” line. The ballad-heavy second half of the album gives Lytle, and listeners, a chance to wallow in the remnants of a now-dissolved relationship.

While “This Is the Part” is maybe a bit too on-the-nose, Lytle strikes a balance on the album’s final two tracks, “A Lost Machine” and “Songbird Son,” two songs as beautiful as any in Grandaddy’s history. While the former compares the death of a relationship to the end of a piece of digital equipment, the latter is the rare acoustic Grandaddy song, with only slight flourishes of beeps and pings. It’s as lovely as it is sad, with Lytle telling a story without using technology or nature as a foil or fable … perhaps it’s a new start, but as the song indicates it could just as easily be the end.


Memories Are Now

by Jesca Hoop (Sub Pop)

Grade: A

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t really know much about Jesca Hoop, the California-born singer/songwriter who now resides in England. I had received her new album from the folks at Sub Pop records and for some reason dismissed her as a sentimental singer/songwriter type.

I’m not sure what I was thinking — I should have known to never dismiss anything on Sub Pop, a label with a track record for working with great artists. Luckily, while visiting friends in San Francisco during spring break, I had the opportunity to see Hoop perform at one of my favorite venues, the Great American Music Hall.

I went with very few expectations and mainly to see my friends and spend time in a building that I consider my church. Delightful surprises happen, and happen they did. Hoop’s performance was nothing short of eye-opening. Her stage presence was immense and her musical talents, which include a unique but well-trained voice and a rhythmically perfect sense of timing on guitar, were great.

Upon my return to Taos, I dove deeper into Hoop’s new album, her fifth, and discovered that I had nearly overlooked what might be one of the best albums of the year. Hoop’s songwriting is quirky in the vein of other timeless but current artists like Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Torres, Joanna Newsom, and more all-time favorites like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits (whom she worked for as a nanny in her youth).

Hoop grew up in a Mormon household, and has not remained in the faith. In fact, “Memories Are Now” takes an unflattering view of religion in several lyrical instances, not dissimilar to Torres’ 2015 album Sprinter, which found its songwriter defiant, honest and melodic in the way Hoop is here. The gospel-inspired “Songs of Old” and the blistering yet quiet “The Coming” find Hoop coming to terms with the beliefs of her youth.

Even Jason Lytle would be impressed with the lyrics of album standout “Animal Kingdom Chaotic:”

I say it is possible

But your computer says no

You say it’s impossible

But your dumb computer says no

Hoop finds ways to employ humor, intelligence and beauty into her songs, whether it’s an affirmations of independence on “Cut Connection” or the dreamlike sweetness of “Pegasi.”

The whole album deserves to be heard, and not to be dismissed. Hoop has carved out her niche in the big-boy music business, scratching and clawing the whole way. This album is in fact better heard than written about, but if one line sums up the gist of Memories Are Now, it is this one from the title track:

I’ve lived enough life

I’ve earned my stripes

With my knife in the ground, this is mine



Other recently released albums worth checking out:

Occult Architecture Vol. 1, by Moon Duo (Sacred Bones) — Reverb-drenched pyschedelia

Elwan, by Tinariwen (Anti-) — Saharan desert blues from a Taos fan favorite

Please Be Mine, by Molly Burch (Captured Tracks) — Retro stylings from Austin-based newcomer with a big voice

Offers, by NE-HI (Grand Jury) — Catchy catchy garage rock

Seen Comin’ From A Mighty Eye, by Skyway Man (self-released) — Dude’s a Paul Simon fan



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10th Annual Taos Shortz Film Fest Fare-thee-Well Tue, 28 Mar 2017 20:45:15 +0000 "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night."

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This week, March 30th through April 2nd, 2017 is the tenth annual Taos Shortz Film Fest. It’s also their fare-thee-well edition. That’s right folks, after a decade Taos Shortz is movin’ on. So, if like me, you’re a Taos slacker—you have all the best intentions of going to check out everything amazing our community has to offer, but you never leave your house and justify your apathy by telling yourself you’ll catch it next time—don’t wait! There is no next time.

Thusly, in order to provide some additional fire-under-proverbial-butt motivation for all my fellow agoraphobes, and some riveting information for the rest of you, I asked Anna Cosentine, the festival’s executive director, to give me the lowdown on all things Taos Shortz over the past decade. Warning: her enthusiasm is boundless, and I’m hoping it’s contagious.

1. Why did you start the Fest? Who were the original organizers? What’s it all about?

In 2006 my friend Duprelon Tizdale (now faithful business partner) and I took a road trip and ended up at the Sedona Film Festival. I knew nothing about the intricacies and importance of Film Festivals at the time. I saw a 30-minute animation called “Saul Goodman” and liked it so much, on the way back to Taos, said, “Wow. We should start a shortz film fest in Taos!” I knew that Taos Talking Pictures had closed its doors, and later, Taos Mountain Film Festival was no longer there, and that the community of Taos had a penchant and passion for the cinematic arts. We decided then to put Taos “back on the map” as a cinematic destination.  In 2007 we launched the Taos Shortz Film Fest and screened 28 global short films.

Incidentally, at this year’s festival we have a free event called “If You Wanna Know,” Saturday (April Fool’s Day) at 2:30pm. We will screen that 30-minute short “Saul Goodman,” and Tizz and I will informally answer questions! We thought it would be kind of a fun way to commemorate our 10 years.

The films we bring to our audience are top notch, compelling, global stories with impeccable editing, cinematography, sound and structure. Nothing less meets our criteria to be accepted to the Taos Shortz Film Fest. We pride ourselves on presenting short films from 5 genres—documentary, comedy, drama, animation and OOTO (Out of the Ordinary) that are each woven into a 2-hour program.

Being the only juried film fest in Taos, and the only Short Film Festival in a state where filming and filmmaking has an astonishing economic impact to the Industry, the Taos Shortz Film Fest continues to bring innovative program ideas that inspire and educate. Our films comprise cutting edge provocative themes that create responses and awareness to our community that can change social views and consciousness. This was how we started, and this is how we end; from seed to Fare-Thee-Well.

Taos Shortz Film Fest

2. Ten years and Fare-thee-Well? Why resolve the annual event now?

As you can imagine, this festival is a lot of work, from when we open submissions in June, to closing submissions in December. Weeding through and watching the 1,000 film submissions this year, organizing the program, corresponding with accepted filmmakers, acquiring the high quality format of the film (Tizz), designing and printing the program, and logistics for the actual fest takes about 8 months. 

Basically, after our 10 year high, we want our lives back. Pure and simple. Both Tizz and I are creative people. Taos Shortz lends itself to a certain creativity, but we are both much more than that. For me, I would like to travel again. I’ve been to over 22 countries. This last Fare-Thee-Well is a chance to revive personal urges; I wish to experience cultural stories again in person, not secondhand.

3. What are you most excited about for this year’s Fest?

As always, we are over the moon to bring you thought provoking global stories. There will be over 100 films throughout the 4 day festival. We have stories from United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, India, Slovenia… to name just a few. We have attending filmmakers once again. [I’m] super excited about some from Italy screening their world premiere. At our festival, filmmakers and festival goers get to be surrounded by an intimate environment that cultivates discussions and sometimes challenges people to think and talk about disturbing subjects. We love that about Taos Shortz. It is needed in these changing times.

Just as exciting is a Native American Showcase. There are over 6 tribes and their stories represented in this program, and 4 visiting filmmakers.

And we take a trip down memory lane with 2 separate programs. Throughout our 10 years we have SO many great films in our archives. The T & A Round Up is a collection of Tizz’s and my favorites. Some festival goers may remember these films, some may be seeing them for the first time, but boy, it’s a program not to be missed.

The Diez Anos Retrospective is a more formal program. We have selected a film from each year that has either won one of our awards, or has been nominated for an Academy Award. Our Taos local filmmakers, Aaron Shiver and writer Allegra Huston, will be honored with the screening of their short “Good Luck Mr Gorski.”

Speaking of Academy Awards, the past four Taos Shortz festivals have screened short films that have gone on to be nominated for Academy Awards. Just this past Oscar Ceremony, the short narrative “Sing” won the Award. It had its North American premiere last year at Taos Shortz. We are extremely proud of that.

Taos Shortz Film Fest

4. And finally, why short films?

Ha! In the beginning we were under the impression that a shortz film fest would be easier to produce than a feature film festival. Dead wrong.

Actually, in our opinion, a great short film is harder to make than a feature. Imagine setting up a strong story line in the matter of 2 minutes, developing it, and pulling it though to conclusion in under 28 minutes. Character development, precise camera angles, editing, storyline—not a moment of un-needed footage. I can tell you what I have learned from all this. I can tell a great short from a mediocre one in that first 2 minutes. Whew.

the tenth annual taos shortz film fest will be held this week march 30th – april 2nd at the tca. this is most surely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. don’t miss it, you’ll be glad you didn’t!

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TaoSatva: Local Dance Studio Brings New Energy Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:49:57 +0000 You want movement? They've got it!

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The room at TaoSatva is filled with natural light, with sunlight pouring in from the well-placed windows. The wooden floor is spring-loaded, which means it goes easy on your feet as you move throughout the space. There is a wall of mirrors on one side, but these can be covered with curtains, if desired. The building is beautiful and commands sweeping views of the Taos plateau and the mountains. It is well equipped for a variety of activities — in addition to the gorgeous 2000 square foot dance space, it is outfitted with a loft area, LED lighting with dimmers, updated restrooms, and ample parking.


This building has seen some turnover since its inception: first it was the Bette Winslow Dance Studio, and then it was home to the Taos Academy of Dance Arts (TADA), but the latest iteration feels like the space has finally come into its own. What happens now at TaoSatva is a wide variety of movement modalities — not just dance, although there is plenty of that, but if it involves bodily movement, there is a good chance it’s happening here.

A quick glance at the website reveals the following: Tai Chi, QiGong, West African Dance, 5 Rythms, multiple types of yoga, SOMA shape shifting, labyrinth walks, and Nia. Now, while you may be familiar with some of these practices, some of them might be a little unfamiliar, so let’s dive in a bit.

Tai Chi and QiGong are both considered “meditation in motion,” based on martial arts, but with slow deliberate movements meant to channel energy. The health benefits of these gentle practices are numerous.

Want to get your sweat on? Come try out the West African dance classes — these are high-energy and highly aerobic, driven by the rhythms of live drumming.

5 Rhythms is a style of dance meditation, meant to awaken the spirit within. In addition to the regular Sunday morning “dance church,” there is the occasional multi-day workshop or intensive to deepen your practice.

Have you heard of Nia? Nia is a mind/body/spirit conditioning program that draws from a multitude of sources, including yoga, martial arts, and modern dance. It’s an innovative approach to healing the body through movement.

For something a little different, take a look at Soma Shape Shifting, which involves movement improvisation and guided exploration. Express creativity and joy by moving your body. 

In addition to the multitude of unique movement modalities, there are also many styles of yoga offered: Jivamukti, Amani and gentle yoga. And the space also hosts the occasional indoor labyrinth walk.

The new owners of TaoSatva, Keith Spear and Cathy Black, have made it their mission to improve quality of life through movement, and the upgrades they have made to the building, along with the variety of classes they offer, is evidence of this – their wish is that the space should foster creativity and healing. And should you choose to host an event of your own, the building is available for rent.

Come see what TaoSatva has to offer!

TaoSatva is located at #2 Upper Colonias Road in El Prado. Visit their website For Class Schedules and More Information.

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Taos Tech For Kids Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:16:19 +0000 Kyle Butler refurbishes old computers for the kids of Taos. He's a hero.

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The Beginning of Taos Tech for Kids

Last December Kyle Butler was cleaning out his home. He pulled out the stack of used laptops he had accumulated. There were ten in total. Having rescued these laptops from an untimely death, they sat in his closet waiting for repair parts. Kyle had no use for the laptops himself, but was committed to not contributing to a buildup of e-waste. Even if you take electronics to your local recycling center, he said, the machine isn’t going to be preserved. And when each laptop requires at least 7,000 gallons of water to manufacture, disassembling a computer that just needs a few parts is not only un-economical, it’s environmentally egregious.

Looking at the computers, Kyle, equipped with sixteen years of trial by fire computer engineering, had a characteristic fit of generosity. He decided to outfit the computers with their necessary parts, perform repairs and give them away to local kids. The requirements? Under seventeen and a resident of Taos. He made a goal to give away all ten by Christmas, and he made a Facebook page where kids could request computers and interested parties could donate parts or cash to his Kickstarter account. He received over 50 applications, and was able to outfit seven kids with new computers.

Due to the tremendous demand in the community Kyle received, he decided to continue the project, receiving donations from the community and providing expensive computer science expertise for free in order to help the community. Three months later, he now has a total of 40 laptops.

Taos Tech for Kids Needs Our Help

Unfortunately, the number of laptops Kyle has been able to give away remains at seven. The donations have trickled to a stop, and the Kickstarter account is empty. Although most of the laptops can be fixed for under $40 and most just require a hard drive, battery or charger, without contributions from the community Kyle is stymied.

Undaunted, Taos Tech For Kids continues, seeking out different avenues for achieving their new goal: 100 machines by the end of the 2017. Hoping to attract some media attention, Kyle is soliciting for a promotional video, article, or any donated advertisement. He’s also open to continuing the project through partnership with a local school. He imagines volunteering to come in and give classroom tutorials, but most of all he’s interested in developing the program into a way to teach kids how to build and repair computers. He hopes to attract the attention of a school that will allow him to teach a computer repair class using donated material, resulting in a classroom of computers the school will get to keep.

Taos Tech for Kids

The conceit of Taos Tech For Kids was to reduce environmental waste. But the program has become about much more than that. It’s about helping kids participate in and mold our digital age, strengthening the resources of our school system, and reinvigorating community-based, need-driven philanthropy.

So whatever your capability—advertising and advocating, donating parts, funds or time—don’t hesitate to get involved.

To learn more about Kyle and Taos Tech For kids, visit their Facebook page. 

To apply for a computer, or find out more about how to donate visit: 

For all other enquiries or to contact Kyle directly e-mail him at:


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El Gamal: East Indian Night, Breakfast, and Community Wed, 15 Mar 2017 01:32:22 +0000 A bounty of goodness in the heart of downtown Taos

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The color of coconut curry-smothered green peas and butternut squash over an ample bowl of rice has given me pause. An East Indian bamboo flute, the bansuri, is the sound drifting on the the air and making the atmosphere here quietly reminiscent of hazy mornings in another country. Although I work here, for a moment I don’t know where I am. The smell of onions being sautéed is a tease from the kitchen, along with scents of cumin and coriander, cardamom and lemon, oil and a cache of other spices used to create the fragrant digestive base of some of the evening’s dishes. On the menu is saag panir, mutaar, chana masala, bhaigan bharta, alu gobhi, kale pakoras, dahl, and raita.

El Gamal East Indian Night

Ambiguously, the contour of Indian culture that seems to simultaneously resist and reveal, not unlike Indians themselves sometimes when they nod their heads — is it yes or no? — has infiltrated this mostly Middle Eastern and always vegetarian restaurant. The thing is that on a Thursday night, once every three weeks or so, El Gamal presents it’s own taste of India.

A traditional Thali is a meal spread on banana leaves replenished by people distributing from apparently never-emptying serving bowls. Elad, owner of El Gamal, explained to me that when most people go to India they lose weight, and they go to look for God. But he says, “When I went I gained weight, and God was already there.” Inspired by the Thalis of South India, East Indian Night at El Gamal nourishes with a plate full of several entrees of your choice, white or brown basmati rice, kale pakoras, and pita-style chapatis. The desserts afterward can make even a shrewd heart soften: Lemon Cardamom Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce, Death By Chocolate Flourless Chocolate Cake, Baklava with Rose Petal Sauce. The chai is housemade and always available, like the desserts, Indian Night or not. For those who prefer beer there is draft from Marble Brewing Co. in Albuquerque, and for wine folk, a full list. On Indian Night there’s live music. Terra and Mark Choplin present traditional classical Indian music, “Ragas of Hindustan”, beginning around 6:30p.

El Gamal Challah French ToastA principal of bounty that nurtures underlies the vision at El Gamal. Owners Elad Greenwald and his wife Nettayah Ben-Attar believe that the intention behind the cooking of food is integral to the art of it, which translates into every nourishing bite here having energy to give. Besides East Indian Night, there is a full menu of Middle Eastern vegetarian deliciousness with gluten-free and vegan options. Breakfast, which is El Gamal’s lesser-known gem is served all day starting at 9am. Shakshuka, for example, is a dish of poached eggs (local and organic, if you prefer) over a Middle Eastern tomato casserole. Life as a Shakshuka looks like those same eggs but served over one of the day’s East Indian specials. The bagels, made fresh daily, rival any I had growing up in New York, and you can put just about anything on top of them. Turkish Coffee is an Ethiopian blend with a bit of ground cardamom added — it’s heated over an open flame for a cup of joe that, as a friend recently commented, has got a lot of swagger for three bucks fifty.

And expanding the idea that nourishment is love and the life we live, El Gamal also provides a forum for community dialogue in it’s Local Resilience Lecture Series, which hosts speakers and films on addressing global climate change at the community level. The first lecture was lead by Kyle Tisdel of the Western Environmental Law Center in February, and the turnout was huge. The essence is that whether you come to El Gamal for Indian food or breakfast, coffee or conversation, you’ll be taken care of.

The next East Indian Night is Thursday, March 30th. Reservations are required for large parties only. For more information visit their Facebook events page.

For El Gamal’s hours, street location and a full menu, visit their website.

And for information about upcoming Local Resilience events, visit check out El Gamal’s Facebook page.

I’ll see you there.

El Gamal Challah Bread


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Coffee for What Ails Ya—Taos’ New Coffee Apothecary Sun, 12 Mar 2017 21:08:02 +0000 Community engagement & coffee

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Hold onto your horses, Taos—there’s a new coffee shop in town. But you probably knew that already, didn’t you? You were probably already there for their recent Mannequin Challenge, or a work meeting, or just really good coffee. You’ve probably already met Pablo and Lydia, the outstanding millennial couple that runs the place. What, you haven’t? Then have I got a place for you. A place for everyone in Taos.

Because here’s the thing. They don’t just make coffee—and tea, espresso, you name it—at the Coffee Apothecary. Pablo Flores of Taos and Lydia McHaley of Albuquerque are building a community in their super modern café, adjacent to Gearing Up bike shop. They are starting a revolution using the people and energy we already have here, in ways that have been waiting to come to fruition. They are providing a space for all to feel welcome, to make connections, to be themselves.

Coffee Apothecary TaosWhich fits with the original impetus for cafés—and in a long history of cafés as spaces where people of all backgrounds (and socioeconomic statuses) can come together to exchange ideas, read, write, and enjoy the comfort of a warm beverage.  Not that we have any particular shortage of cafés in Taos, and each offers its own take on the tradition.

The Coffee Apothecary, though, is adding fresh things in just the right doses, not the least of which are the infectious, complementary personalities of its co-owners.

Pablo is energetic, talkative, jumping from fair trade to trends in coffee machines to the importance of engaging customers authentically. He makes it clear that, although his father (Taoseños likely remember Greg Flores from his days at Elevation) started the Albuquerque café Espresso Fino first, they learned the craft of coffee-making from one another. Lydia is more mild-mannered, quiet but full of knowledge, humbly sharing when asked. She peppers Pablo’s comments with her own valuable contributions, insights and connections among topics. Together, they both greet customers by name, make outstanding espresso drinks, and ensure the space is safe for people of all economic and ethnic backgrounds, all ages, and all levels of housing stability/instability. As Pablo notes, “The Coffee Apothecary caters to everybody.”

But, why an apothecary? For one, both Lydia and Pablo are invested in—and know how to make—quality coffee, free of oils, mold, and other toxins. For another, they envision a combination coffeehouse and marketplace for natural skin care, bath salts, body butters, and essential oils, all handcrafted by Lydia and sold in the same space. They also offer baked goods from Sweet Sol in Taos, including hand-rolled croissants and gluten free options.

Through their efforts, this room in Taos has become a space for wellness on several levels—the physical, social, and spiritual. We can’t help but want to tend to ourselves on these various levels, and that we can do so at the Coffee Apothecary makes it all the more indispensable to the community.  The greatest compliment they’ve received, Lydia mentioned, is that their place “feels like my Tia’s kitchen.”

The new owners worked from October to December to get the space ready; Pablo built the bar. The Coffee Apothecary opened on December 26, 2016. So, what’s next for this enterprising young couple?  Once they have their business off the ground, they plan to open the space for rentals (e.g. meetings, events, classes) and live acoustic music sets. They take inspiration from café culture in California and in Asian countries like Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea, where coffee isn’t just served; it’s made in a culture of precision, offering, and beauty—a perfect combination of science and art.

coffee apothecary taos

But the most exciting initiative to watch for here is Slow Bar Sundays, coming up this Spring. On these Sundays, the Coffee Apothecary will open for limited hours, and there will be no Wifi, no to-go cups. Rather, there will only be individual drink orders and specific pairings with the food, an a la carte brunch menu provided by the Shed Project, run by Johnny Ortiz and Leia Layus. These brunches will be an opportunity to chill out and embrace (at least one) day of rest on the weekend. The question will be—not, where are you headed?, but—what does each ingredient do for you? What are you up to these days? And whatever else comes up. The opportunity will be there to talk with your neighbors.

In sum, Pablo and Lydia are growing the Coffee Apothecary using the age-old coffee shop as a medium of community outreach. One fact they note—and use to great advantage—is that coffee is one of the few substances that both stimulates the human brain and calms it down through release of endorphins. They have studied the history of the coffeehouse as a place for idea exchange, and they have kept up with current trends in the industry. They also agree that coffee is one of the great unifiers, sought out by a wide variety of people, in our community and around the world.

Here, then, is an opportunity for us to embrace our community—one cup, one conversation at a time.

The Coffee Apothecary is open 7am-4pm Monday-Friday, 8am-2pm Saturday & Closed Sundays (for now) Located right next to Gearing Up on 616 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos.


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Veronica Golos presents: Writing From Behind the Mask Tue, 07 Mar 2017 17:24:17 +0000 Justin talks to Veronica about exploring the truth.

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SOMOS is hosting its first ever Taos Writer’s Conference this weekend, Friday March 10th through Sunday March 12th. Among the many events planned are a series of workshops offered by established Taos writers for aspiring writers of all skill levels in our community. Veronica Golos will offer her time and expertise on Saturday from 9 a.m. till noon in a workshop entitled Writing From Behind the Mask — A Workshop of Persona Poetry.

Ms. Golos bills the workshop as an opportunity to take well known stories and retell them by offering your own voice to the characters, be it the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, or an elder Red reflecting on the same story, or the hurricane itself in the story of Katrina. Ms. Golos proposes that “so many stories seem to be ‘the truth’ yet, told through the masked poet, a different perhaps truer picture arrives.”

I confess, I have a schoolboy’s anxiety about speaking with poets about “the truth.” I seem to remember Socrates warning me that poets were possessed by a kind of divine mania, and that they themselves could not account for what they said. Nevertheless, I was curious about Persona Poetry, and in particular Ms. Golos’ claim that it may be an avenue towards greater truth. Her response was strong, if a bit esoteric, and it became clear to me that Persona Poetry was a powerful tool in her work as a poet, which she described to me as “a dialogue with American history and my own history.”

Veronica Golos- Persona PoetryTo help illustrate the work of the masked poet, Ms. Golos spoke about some of the challenges she faced while writing her most recent book of poetry, Rootwork. In this work of Persona Poetry, the author lent voices to the abolitionist John Brown and his wife Mary Day Brown. She spoke with respect for these people, now characters in our shared history. She felt that she had to adopt a more restrained voice, and she tried to avoid topics of discussion such as sex and feelings which might have been taboo for the times. She wanted the characters to sound both true to their times while being true to her own voice. Ms. Golos expressed the constraint of the form very well by saying that she wanted to bring her voice to the character’s experience and leave her own experience behind. “It’s the voice of the true you, in the experience of the other,” she said.

It sounds like a powerful gymnastic, but I didn’t quite understand. I asked her to contrast this approach to a poem like Rilke’s Panther, where one could simply describe their experience of a magnificent caged animal, behold the truth of the moment, and point at it. “No, no, no,” she said; although she respects the poem, “pointing is not helpful, your participation is.” At another moment she said “pointing is preaching, it is not poetry.”

Within the larger context of her dialogue with history, Ms. Golos seems to be asking us to engage the stories which shape our understanding of the world by both presenting those stories while questioning them with our own voice within the story.  It is through this engagement, and not by pointing, that “poetry allows [us] to find what is complex and revelatory.”

Veronica Golos expresses great admiration and thanks to Jan Smith for organizing the Taos Writers Conference. It is a tremendous opportunity to discover and engage the many great writers who call Taos their home.

veronica golos’ workshop exploring persona poetry — Writing from Behind the mask is part of the inaugural taos writers conference march 10-12, 2017. to take part in this weekend long celebration of all things written word sign up today!


Slideshow Photo Credit: Jim O’Donnell


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