, the nonprofit responsible for the
Santa Fe Bandstand
, can’t seem to win. Trapped between growing national recognition and small-town loyalties, the annual musical festival, set to kick off June 21, is having an identity crisis.
Last year, as the Bandstand finished its 10
season, Outside In received two kinds of feedback. For the first time in its history, major national organizations, such as Philadelphia’s Temple University, asked about getting involved. The Bandstand’s reputation was growing.
The second was at the other end of the spectrum. An audience survey found increasing discontent with the performance variety.
In an effort to meet both requests, Outside In Executive Director Michael Dellheim is reinvigorating this year’s lineup. “We’re trying to expand the perception of what the Bandstand really is,” Dellheim tells SFR.
To do so, Dellheim instituted the Bandstand’s first online application, a contrast to previous years. Dellheim says that, under former Bandstand Director David Lescht, who passed away last year, “the process was really one of people just calling and sending in their CDs, and it would be reviewed by a committee here at the Bandstand.”
A revamped website,
—which features easy-to-navigate band bios, an interactive calendar and a merch section—was also launched to increase community-outreach efforts.
Dellheim points out that this year, the Bandstand received an unprecedented 340 applicants, of which 70 were selected. The new review begins with an online application and a request for a video of live performance.
“We really want to know what you do live,” he says.
A group of local music writers, critics, DJs, leaders of music collectives and promoters then review all submissions and suggest alterations. Of the 100 artists who withstand this review, the Outside In board of directors then removes another 20. Finally, they craft a lineup that matches both public demand and the Bandstand’s vision. Sometimes, this means looking outside the applicant pool.
“We reached out to some other bands that didn’t apply. That’s how we got
,” Dellheim explains.
Dellheim also made an effort to boost genre diversity. “We’re reaching out to the jazz community, [which] we’ve never done before. Jazz is a genre that’s never really been represented at the bandstand,” he says.
But despite these new efforts to satisfy national and local demands, not everybody is eager for change. Last April, many local musicians responded angrily to the Bandstand’s final results. In particular, many feel the festival should stay local.
“I feel the Santa Fe Bandstand should represent local musicians, and for a band to come in from out of town, I don’t think that’s quite fair to the local guys,”
, a well-respected jazz musician who has lived in Santa Fe since 1983, tells SFR. “’Cause we’re the guys playing every night in the clubs, and it’s an honor to play at the Bandstand.” Haines adds even more strongly, “I think it should be all New Mexico.”
Not everybody agrees. Many Santa Fe locals, especially the younger crowd, welcome the Bandstand 2.0.
, a local world musician, thinks the influx of outside talent is positive for the local scene.
“Santa Fe is musically on an island,” Carr says. “There’s networking that can happen. That networking is crucial.”
Ultimately, Dellheim believes he and his team made the best compromises they could. “We do think it’s important to skew towards regional talent. The vast majority of the lineup is New Mexican,” Dellheim says. “But we also think it’s important to expose people to other talent.”
That said, Dellheim assures that “we don’t want it to become the next Austin City Limits—some kind of monster.”
June 21-Aug. 23,
SF Plaza Community Stage
For full schedule,