I recently performed my weepy acoustic songs about girls (I was amazing, BTW) at the grand opening weekend of the Little Wing performance space. It’s housed in what was once The Candyman Strings & Things. Losing the record store portion of the business was a real drag but, like the almighty phoenix, something more powerful has risen from its ashes.
Part concert space, part musical education annex, Little Wing (candy manlittlewing.com) is open to any and all music lovers interested in learning about promotion, playing instruments or just plain listening to music. A safe, drug- and alcohol-free space, Little Wing is where those too young to get into bars can attend and play concerts. It's also a place where they can take classes and learn how to produce shows themselves. Additionally, Little Wing can be rented out for performances for a mere $200, significantly cheaper than similar spaces.
For one of Little Wing's first concerts, prog-punk act Man Hurls Hedgehog and funky jazz-metal band ArC are set to play.
“Concerts will make up about half of the Little Wing equation, but we’ve got a lot of workshops and clinics planned as well,” Director Ross Hamlin tells SFR.
Workshops will be run in a series format, the clinics as one-off events.
"Be it conducting, drum-work, music theory, piano, guitar technique, singing or even modern music software, I'm hoping we'll be able to offer workshops on just about anything," Hamlin says. "So many local musicians seem interested in volunteering, so we should have some pretty diverse programming."
(I'll be offering a promotion workshop to show kids how to throw a show for little more than 6 bucks, the cost of fliers.)
Kids can also take classes at Candyman School of Rock, a series of rocking-out lessons helmed by Peter Williams, local music new-god and bassist for The Reverend Karol King Kong. Hamlin envisions Little Wing as an alternative to what he considers a stale local scene.
"Considering the lackluster crowds that attend shows in Santa Fe, Little Wing will be cool in that we've set it up to cater to those who specifically want to listen to and play music," he says. "There aren't many bars that cater to musicians around here; it's like the music is an afterthought."
Having a space with programming that emphasizes musical substance over booze consumption shouldn't have to be novel, but it is. Not many clubs are equipped with PAs, leaving it up to the bands to rent the equipment and run the sound themselves from the stage. During my set at Little Wing, the sound setup was far from perfect but, to Hamlin's credit, it does exist and Little Wing will have dedicated sound dudes on hand for its shows.
In addition to the performance and educational aspects, Little Wing sells a wide array of albums from local bands.
"When The Candyman disinte grated, we wound up with a huge stockpile of records from local bands. We'll have the largest selection of alllocal music in town," Hamlin says.
Little Wing isn't the only space in town offering youth-oriented programming but, considering that venues such as Warehouse 21 have seen better days—both in concert frequency as well as interested kids—Little Wing's "We're all in this together!" mentality is a boon for the local scene. Hopefully, people will take notice.