Face it, Santa Fe: Corazón (401 S. Guadalupe St., 505-983-4559) constantly has great shows—dare we say, the best shows in town. In just over a year of operation (the club celebrated its first birthday on March 25), it’s hosted some of the most memorable shows that Santa Fe has ever seen, including stoner-rockers Stardeath and White Dwarfs, New York City’s Ayurveda and reggae legend Pato Banton.

At the center of the music is owner and musician Mikey Baker. A prominent member of the local music scene for what seems like 100 years, Baker has been in tons of local bands, most notably weird-rock outfit The Gluey Brothers. I sat down with Baker to pick his brain and try to figure out how it is that Corazón has risen to the top.

SFR: In the past year, Santa Fe has really embraced Corazón. Why do you think that is?

MB: I always had this idea to open up the kind of club Santa Fe has never seen. Growing up here, I’ve seen so many clubs. Some have been able to last, and others have come and gone. Ultimately, I know what I like, and I love going out myself, so the main idea was to create a place that I could go and just hang out with my bros.

So you want it to be comfortable, but you still want to do some out-there stuff.

I’m pushing the envelope as much as I can with the music acts I’m bringing in, and I think people appreciate that. If I thought there was an appetite for it, I’d explore even more alternative stuff. There’s a balance between what I want to do and what the market will bear. At the end of the day, it is a business.

You’ve been doing some metal shows—that’s kind of alternative, right?

I’ve done about three metal shows, so I guess you could say that. I absolutely want to do more metal, though.

Has being in bands played a role in how you handle the acts you book?

Absolutely. I think that it is both to the bands’ benefit and detriment that I’ve been in bands. I don’t have a whole lot of respect for bands that have a lot of expectation or that act like the world owes them a living, or don’t advertise at all and expect a big fat paycheck. People that show up and really have a desire to play a show and be professional and have respect for the audience, those are the bands I like to work with. While touring with The Gluey Brothers, I slept on kitchen floors across the country. We made friends and we worked hard. What I learned from these experiences is definitely part of how I treat my bands.

Do you like being a club owner or a club player more?

Touring’s hard, but I’d go back in a second if I wasn’t old.

Musically speaking, have things at Corazón been going the way you envisioned?

I pretty much had a vision and I knew what size I wanted the club to be. It’s hard to have a really huge place and pack it. I also know the Santa Fe market is small, so I had to have a variety of music coming in. You won’t get the same shows every night, and that’s informed a lot of the decision-making on what happens on given nights. Say, for example, a different venue has a hip-hop show one night—I’ll go in a different direction. That goes all the way down the line to the Reggae Party or karaoke. Overall, it’s gone the way I want. Other people like Leahi Mayfield or Tim Franke or Red Cell have brought shows in, and that’s worked great. These people are plugged into different populations, so to speak, and they’ll bring stuff I’ve never heard of, but winds up being excellent.

It sounds like Corazón is whatever the community makes it.

It’s all about community. I appreciate all the support, and we’ll keep doing our very best.

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