I wanna talk about Joie Flare. For a lot of reasons, really, not least of which is how she kind of sneakily became this positive force within the local music scene in some pretty interesting ways. To wit, as bassist for funk act The Sticky, as sometimes-vocalist for Westin McDowell’s Shiner’s Club Jazz Band, as bassist for the tragically on-hiatus rock band The Velvet O and in innumerable other little ways here and there.
I say “sneakily” because it seems like one day Joie (a stage name; you’ve gotta make friends if you want to know the real info) was just around, and that isn’t always easy in an insular scene like ours. But a lifelong funk and jazz fan (her dad played sax and loved Coltrane) who also, by the way, loved emo and screamo for a time as a teenager, is—or should be—a pretty hot commoddity, and plenty of us are glad she’s here.
“I moved here from New York, but I was an army brat, so I’m a bit of a nomad,” Joie says. “This is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.”
It’s really only a scant six years, but important ones as, in that time, she went to Santa Fe University of Art & Design, became a protégé of sorts to multi-instrumentalist/SFUAD teacher, Peter Williams (of Love Gun and The Sticky and who, Joie recalls, provided her one of the most meaningful aspects of her music education) and won the hearts and minds of many. It’s in the style, man—an effortless musicianship matched only by how completely she throws herself into her jams. Like, seriously, if you’ve ever seen any of the aforementioned bands, you know what I’m talkin’ about, and if you haven’t, you damn well should as soon as possible.
Don’t worry, though … we’ve got you covered with info on her newest project, Cardigan Buttons, a three-song EP recorded in Denver by former Santa Fean Ben Clary and mastered by local audio wizard Will Dyar (who has also worked with other locals like Woven Talon and Greg Butera). Listen to it at joieflare.bandcamp.com immediately. It’s a bizarre combo of solo bass and vocal work with little surprises like organ thrown in. Two-thirds of Buttons is allllllmost Pinback-adjacent and even recalls ’90s-esque Presidents of the United States of America’s stripped-down alterna-rock style, yet Joie sings about a bazillion times better than anyone from either act, taps into a deeper emotion and avoids sounding derivative. On the opener, “Rabbit Hole,” however, she takes a stab at what she calls “radio pop,” though that kind of diminishes the quality of the songwriting. No, you won’t hear this on the radio—it’s too damn good; there is actual musicianship, there are actual bass chords, and there isn’t anything more than that which it needs to sound perfect. Yes, perfect. Those’re fightin’ words, I know, and if there were a complaint to make about the EP, it’s in how short it is. How’s she do that?
“I’m not really going for anything other than what I do, and while I’m excited for this to be coming out, I’m really more excited to make a full-on record with a band that way I hear it in my head,” Joie says. “This is more like an intro.”
The last time we had something like this going on in Santa Fe, Luke Carr released Pigrow, blew our minds and then came out with Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand and really mind-fucked us. Not that Joie sounds like Carr, and she might be known more as backup for a slew of bands at the moment. But, if Cardigan Buttons is just an intro to what she can do, there is no doubt that she’ll stand head and shoulders with the best of ’em around town. Hell, she can probably do better. Trust us and head down to Ghost on Sunday for the release party.
“I think the Santa Fe scene is really opening up right now,” she says. “There are new bands and more youthful bands, and it’s starting to seem like there’s more to do for not just older people.”
We believe that more than ever, with Joie Flare leading the charge … it’ll just be hard as hell to wait for her full
Joie Flare Cardigan Buttons Release
featuring Esther Rose and John Francis
8:30 pm Sunday, July 24. $5.
2899 Trades West Road