I've been writing my whole life but, until I took over SFR's music column, I had never really considered working as a writer or even letting people read my stuff. It's been a learning process for me, both professionally and personally. Suddenly, I've found myself scrutinized by friends and strangers alike, while at the same time I've gained access to all the music Santa Fe has to offer. It's a mixed bag, but I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Love me or hate me, I'll be with you in the new year to help you navigate the ups and downs of the scene—and surely to prove my self-worth. Looking back over 2009, I was left with several lasting impressions of Santa Fe and its music scene.

I got a kick out of the reaction spawned by my less-than-favorable review of the Gordon Free Band. If I have the right to present my opinions to readers, then certainly the readers are entitled to share theirs with me; I'm a fan of honest and open discussions when it comes to music. The challenge is to avoid letting our tempers get out of hand because, as we all know, our own opinions are the only ones that truly matter in the end. Plus, I'm guessing that Free's Myspace page got a serious bump in popularity just because people wanted to see what I disliked so much.

Santa Fe simply cannot get enough Americana. I've said this before, but I'm repeating it now because it's a really intense phenomenon. I have mixed feelings because while I would hate for a specific niche to over-saturate the scene, great acts such as Mary & Mars, The Santa Fe All-Stars and newcomer John Courage—not to mention the many touring Americana acts that book in Santa Fe—give me high hopes for the coming year.

What happened to the kids? Either there's an extreme lack of press releases coming in to the paper from non-bar, teen-oriented venues, or the kids stopped caring. You're our great hope, under 21-ers! Without you, music will grow stale and boring. Get out there and start bands and make Warehouse 21 and Meow Wolf as great as they can be. Seriously kids, this is a challenge.

I'm often asked (since I gripe so much) if there are any local bands that I actually like. Of course there are! Post-punk project Venus Bogardus sits on top of my list of favorite local bands. The band puts on a fantastic live show, and its new album, Spitting At The Glass, is bound to win best album in the Best of Santa Fe poll next year. D Numbers has never once disappointed me with its unique and broad sound. Bloodweaver has melted my face on several occasions with brutal metal. There isn't a lack of talent in Santa Fe but, just like anywhere else in the world: There's good stuff and there's total shit.

Corazón, namely co-owner Mikey Baker, has done an excellent job of bringing mid-level touring bands to Santa Fe, and recreating some of the magic that was lost when The Paramount closed its doors. I predict that in 2010, this club will become the place to beat for live music. Certainly, The Santa Fe Brewing Company has had its fair share of fantastic shows (Dan Hicks, Reel Big Fish and The Thermals come to mind), but downtown Santa Fe continues to be where most things happen. And it's hard to drive outside the city limits for a show, especially when one mustn't drink too much of the SFBC's delicious beer.

I've been thrilled at how gracious and cool Santa Fe's musicians are. You've all been so patient with me as I figure out my place in the scene. Given the size of our town, the amount of talent that resides here is staggering. I can't wait to see what you all cook up in the next year. I love you. But that doesn't mean I'll always be nice.