If you've happened by the Plaza in the past few weeks, you may have noticed our town square alive with locals and tourists enjoying a multitude of musical acts on the bandstand. You don't have to panic over this newfound upbeat Plaza or anything, because the ninth annual Santa Fe Bandstand is now underway, and the beloved yearly festival is as strong as ever. Produced by local nonprofit Outside In, the series has become a mainstay of Santa Fe summer culture and, for some, the most exciting cultural event of the year.

"Opening night was like a big summer camp reunion with old friends," Outside In Executive Director David Lescht tells SFR. "To see all our regulars back on the Plaza dancing again was very exciting, and it may have been one of the hugest nights we've ever had."

This year, the series hosts over 70 performances that touch upon various genres: traditional Mexican music, zydeco, reggae, rock and more. No other event in Santa Fe offers the Bandstand's sheer variety. And though Outside In can boast appearances from such notable performers as jazz piano legend Mose Allison; Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson; and '90s alternative powerhouse Cracker, the locals are getting their fair shake as well. Local jazz favorite Pat Malone Quartet opens for Allison, and later in the summer, we can look forward to shows from the AlternAmericana act Anthony Leon and the Chain, swingin' country from Felecia Ford and Broomdust Caravan, and the much-publicized final performance for Todd Eric Lovato with hot and funky Felonious Groove Foundation. Although some Bandstand mainstays have been asked to take a break this year to usher in new blood, Lescht says the bulk of the concerts are still local acts.

"Of the 78 performances scheduled, just about a dozen are from out-of-state," he says. "We use the same booking formula every year because people love the local artists, but also want bands they usually don't get to see."

Now, if you're the kind of person for whom awesome music isn't enough, keep a few things in mind. First, the series is free. In order to catch a lot of these acts, you'd normally have to fight through the sea of patrons that is the downtown bar scene and pay covers—or, worse, drive to Albuquerque and pay a double-digit ticket price. Outside In has created a wonderful opportunity for economical music enjoyment as well as band exposure.

But Outside In serves the Santa Fe community in other ways, too—such as bringing musicians to assisted living facilities for live performances. Also cool is Outside In's Youth with Promise program, which offers weekly music and visual arts workshops for young people who are incarcerated or on probation. From guitar lessons to hip-hop dance classes, Youth with Promise is exactly the kind of program young people in Santa Fe need so badly.

"Not many people realize we do these things, but we are behind about 700 events a year," Lescht says. "It's not about the recognition, but we did recently get word that a former student is starting a similar guitar program in Arizona, and really, that's the reward."

So whether you've got a bored grandpa or a jailbird nephew, or just want to bring your kids to an outdoor concert, Outside In has you covered.

"I'm not the kind of person that likes to shove things down people's throats," Bandstand producer Margaret Burke tells SFR. "But I keep finding myself so excited and insistent when I discuss the series with people, and that's because we have some of the finest artists Santa Fe—or anyplace—has ever seen."

Outside In presents the Ninth Annual Santa Fe Bandstand with Mose Allison, Eliza Gilkyson, Felonious Groove Foundation, Anthony Leon and the Chain, and more
The Plaza

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