If you stop and think about it, it’s a no-brainer for longtime musicians/promoters to both own and operate a venue. They can look at nighttime events from all angles given how they’ve been on just about every conceivable side of these productions, and this is why all y’all need to be excited about the soon-to-open venue Skylight. Housed inside the former Milagro nightclub, the baby of local DJs Joe Ray Sandoval and Sol Bentley along with other partners Charlie Johnston, Pete Samaniego and Aaron Banks, Skylight is poised to become the best damn venue Santa Fe has had in some time, and I’m gonna tell you why.
First of all, Sandoval and Bentley have proven their dedication not only to music, but to the Santa Fe community. As members of such awesome collectives and/or events as Chicanobuilt, Alchemy and more, these dudes have long been a major tandem force for good within the nighttime music scene.
"I was a promoter long before I was a DJ…we've done this a long time, and we got tired of paying sound engineers and renting equipment, so we learned sound from people in the community and got our own gear," Sandoval says. "[Skylight] is the natural progression of working within this city and within this business, and because we are from the community and born and raised here, we encompass that demographic and know that Santa Fe represents more than just us."
With this knowledge, the boys and girls down at Skylight are already forming booking partnerships with the likes of Heath Concerts, Meow Wolf and Joe Anderson, as well as lining up some of the most enticing shows to hit Santa Fe in ages. Acts like Of Montreal, The English Beat and Mykki Blanco are already scheduled, and the possibility of a performance from supremely cool Los Angeles rock act Foxygen (think '60s pop meets mid-'00s indie sensibility, and you're getting there) should be more than enough to turn a few heads. The bottom line is that we're talking a whole lot of varied entertainment, so anyone who felt concerned that such fine hip-hop aficionados as Sandoval and Bentley were going to stick to a minimum number of genres can just relax. Certainly, however, these guys know hip-hop and will offer it up for Santa Fe fans, which is huge since it's oddly hard to see hip-hop around here.
Anyway, it's because of the aforementioned world-class acts that Skylight can boast a world-class stage complete with enough room for even the largest bands and—get this—a retracting drum riser. Additionally, there's a fully functional DJ booth/command center, some of the best sound to be installed anyplace around here and an acoustically treated room. In fact, consultants were hired to assess the scope of the room and to aid in the placement of the stage and sound equipment. Holy shit, right?
And if all that great stuff wasn't enough, the Skylight crew has promised to host all-ages events regularly because, according to Johnston, "We want to include the entire community because everybody should have a place they can go for music."
Those afraid of a younger crowd needn't worry, either, as the plan in place would find the club kicking back into 21-and-over at 10 pm. And anyway, should you be able to find a problem with anything (though that sounds nuts at this point), all of Skylight's owners are dedicated to being on hand for the bulk of operating hours.
"We want people to know when they walk in that we're here," Bentley says. "This is our spot, our home, and we didn't just come in and hire people to run it for us."
Throw in a full menu, three full bars, a super-cool upstairs lounge that the previous tenants used for storage for some reason and the promise of an honest-to-God downtown venue that emphasizes musicians rather than shove them in the corner and expect them to be thankful, and it's hard not to get excited. By the time you are reading this, Skylight's opening night should be within a few days, so get the hell down there and show these guys some love.
"This isn't about ego; it's about community," Sandoval tells SFR. "We're doing this because we know the city needs it."
Damn right it does.
139 W San Francisco St.
4 pm-2 am Monday-Saturday;
4 pm-12 am Sunday