It seems like anywhere you go these days, somebody has a plan for the future of Santa Fe nightlife. More often than not, the ideas are pretty grandiose and/or not based in reality. In the past few months, I’ve heard everything from “Let’s just open a new venue!” to “If we built something surely that would solve the problem!” Now, it seems to me that clubs like Corazón and Rouge Cat tackled the venue-opening issue and wound up having no shortage of difficulties —they
closed after all.
And as for building something new, well, that's just crazy talk given that the money being discussed is nowhere near the amount needed to construct, staff and operate anything short of some sort of shed.
So then, what are some of the more realistic, actually doable options? We keep hearing mayoral candidates use talking points like later public transportation and affordable housing, and while these are absolutely both great ideas—necessary, even—it doesn't change the fundamental truth that even though there's a whole mess going on here, people are growing tired of the offerings. Between resident musicians, "different" bands made up of the same ten people playing basically the same kind of music and no shortage of admittedly awesome and accessible open mics and karaoke nights, people are showing that they're just going to hold on to their money until something really good happens.
Enter Isaiah Rodriguez, a man you might know better under his DJ pseudonym, The Infektor. Rodriguez has promoted many electronic events that surely y'all know, be it Dead Dub Society or Punky Brewster's Bastard Kids. He's worked with all the well-known clubs of the past several years like Rouge Cat, Corazón, The Underground and even Rockin' Rollers, and he's here to help inject a healthy dose of variety into the nightly musical offerings of town.
"Since the demise of Rouge Cat, I've decided to put more focus into live bands and events rather than just the DJ stuff, and I'm going to do it by tapping into up-and-coming acts that may not be universally huge just yet, but are touring a ton and well on their way," Rodriguez says. "That's why I've started Ornery Bull Audio Events."
Rodriguez points to longtime Santa Fe showsmiths like Team Everything and Heath Concerts' Jamie Lenfestey as successful promoters who have zoned in on their respective target audiences, but notes that his new promotions company will do its best to bring music that is, while familiar in style, new to our citizenry.
"When I lost Rouge Cat, I knew I wanted to keep working with music, but I didn't want to move in on anyone's territory. It's a pretty small scene and, bottom line, there's just not a whole lot of different shit to do," says Rodriguez. "I'm open to country and blues, yeah, but I'm also looking into working with talent agencies like William Morris or bringing punk rock back to Santa Fe."
Ornery Bull begins its experiment in variety with an upcoming show at Evangelo's featuring 22-year-old blues rock phenom Jared James Nichols. Nichols ditches the overproduction and high-pitched guitar wanking for a sound that is both raw and dirty but tight and well-executed. A shredder incarnate, Nichols recently signed with Sony/ MTV's Hype Music Publishing, and his guitar chops have been celebrated within both the media and music industries. Let's put it this way: The dude rocks, and by tapping into the foundation laid down by hard rock/blues and simultaneously adding gritty, underground authenticity, Nichols breathes fresh air into a genre dominated by barroom bullshit and Kid Rock-esque acts. Singer Jessica Childress is no slouch herself, having appeared on NBC's The Voice with her own blend of blues and R&B, and opener CatNip Tea will unleash their new conceptual piece Ouroborealis, a 40ish-minute opus that's equal parts jam band, indie rock and killer grooves.
Given the nightlife discussion so rarely touches on the bits and pieces of it all—y'know, like the music itself— it's good to have a guy like Rodriguez trying new things. After all, we can all argue over possibility and vision till we're blue in the face; but without people out there in the trenches, it's a moot point.
JARED JAMES NICHOLS,
8 pm Sunday, March 9.
200 W San Francisco St.