I accidentally park in front of the dispensary, rather than around back, and have to move my car. It’s here, tucked behind the Fruit of the Earth Organics cannabis dispensary and CBD outlet on Early Street, that lies what might just be one of Santa Fe’s best-kept, albeit new, secrets—Paradiso.
Quietly over the past two years, Fruit of the Earth's founder and owner Lyra Barren has transformed the warehouse-like space into one of the most beautiful and enticing community venues in all of Santa Fe: a rich wood dance floor, a balcony, a piano and assorted instruments sitting on a stage; workshops and events have been hosted here fairly regularly of late, but there's a catch: It's not currently open to the public. Dispensary and CBD patients may attend events for free, everyone else must be invited and sometimes pay a fee.
According to Barren, Paradiso is named after the first cannabis club in Amsterdam, and its future use as a public space depends on the winds of legalization. For now, however, it's still semi-functional on a private basis. Eclectic indie act Evarusnik recently debuted new songs here, and we can reportedly expect similar activities in the near future.
For now, though, Paradiso is most often home to the company 7th Wave Music and its 7th Wave Singers, a project of Hidden Whale's Angela Gabriel and The Sticky's Amy Elizah Lindquist, dedicated to empowerment through singing and vocalization. "The shortest version is to say we heal ourselves, our community and our world through singing," Gabriel explains.
Every Thursday, the group meets at Paradiso; a rag-tag blend of pros like Lindquist and Gabriel (Gabriel's husband Jim Goulden of The Gluey Brothers fame pops by from time to time as well), plus community members of all stripes, from everyday people to amateur actors and musicians.
During a recent evening session, Lindquist and Gabriel scurry about the club prior to the singing circle's arrival, preparing for their pupils. They've been at this roughly three years. Though both come from fairly similar music teaching backgrounds, Lindquist is more of a vocalist, and Gabriel a percussionist and vocalist. "We jut had this similar feeling that we wanted to ignite musicality in everybody," Lindquist says. "There's a lot of trauma and shame around it—like, if you don't open your mouth and sound amazing, you're not a singer. Not so!"
But who among us doesn't sing in the shower or create harmonies to songs we like while driving? For Gabriel, it's a simple matter of what we feel is socially acceptable. "A lot of people feel they need permission to sing," she says. "This is for people who want to sing, but don't want the pressure of, 'Do I sound good?'"
First off, this means a 7th Wave Singers session is judgment-free. Both teachers say there aren't performances nor are there solos; it's a group exercise meant to be fun. They've gathered in private homes and at protests like the Women's March in January; they offer corporate team bonding sessions as well. As we chat, various participants begin to arrive. "There's a core of people who've been with us for a long time," Lindquist points out as she greets each one by name. "We set it up like a fun game," Gabriel adds, "but it's authentic music and expression."
A longtime attendee named Teresa Tunick, who says she's been coming since the start, sits with us. "A friend of mine told me about them, and I just thought I'd respond to it and get some juices going," she says. "I've always sang very loudly in the car."
With a drop-in fee of just $15 for anyone not already a patient at the dispensary, these impromptu "lessons" are also affordable. The room begins to fill out with men and women ready to sing. "When a group of people get together to sing, it creates a sense of community," Tunick continues. "Our larger culture has forgotten the value of that sense of community."
With everyone arrived, Lindquist and Gabriel kick things off with a vocal exercise they've designed to get people warmed up: a simple song written by Gabriel espousing the value of singing and music. It's smiles all around and everyone is game for the silly nature of warmups. These participants know they are free to make mistakes here, and nobody has designs on Carnegie Hall. Rather, they've sought closeness and exchange through music, a sensible choice considering it's about the only thing everyone on Earth has in common. In a single session they'll touch on rounds, folk songs, spiritual and gospel numbers and chanting.
"It's my job to give you all the crayons in a coloring box," Lindquist says of her aspirations. "We want them to let go of their idea about what they can or can't do."
The voices echo through the beautiful space and spill out into the parking lot as I leave. It sounds happy inside.
7th Wave Singers
Thursday Night Song Class: 6 pm Thursdays. $15.
901 Early St.,