The collectivist do-it-yourself faeries are alive and well at High Mayhem and, like most nonprofit organizations, they're also in need of money, in this case for a new PA system and a new home.
High Mayhem - a "venue and voice for creative tinkerers," according to its Web site - is a pod of inspired energy that serves as a recording studio, art gallery and rehearsal and multi-media performance space.
However, on Friday, May 16, fire inspectors showed up at a scheduled performance and told organizers that the venue was not up to fire code. The show went on with the authorized eight people inside and the audience listening through open doors and windows. The following evening's performance was moved to O'Shaughnessy Performance Space on the College of Santa Fe campus.
This Friday, the all-volunteer group of organizers are hosting an already-planned fundraiser to offset the cost of their new PA system. In the past they've had to buy, beg and cobble together a proper sound system for events. Because of the occupancy issues, the fundraiser will take place at O'Shaughnessy Performance Space on the College of Santa Fe campus.
"This fundraiser is really about the community," Carlos Santistevan, who serves as the organization's program director, says. "For the past seven years we've been putting on shows for the community - at this point close to 100 shows - and during that time we haven't had a PA."
Attending the fundraiser helps support the type of small venue crucial to any healthy music scene. And this town needs it. Sure, the Santa Fe Opera is magnificent. The Lensic? A-plus. But where's the home for the math rockers, noise freaks and improvisational composers?
Director Max Friedenberg knows, and he hopes to draw as many people as possible. Talking with Friedenberg about High Mayhem is akin to speaking with an excitable parent. His voice hums with pride. He has, after all, been there from the beginning. He's also well aware that many Santa Fe arts organizations need money.
Along with a silent auction that runs throughout the evening, the benefit includes the beat-juggling music of DJ Ultraviolet and the instrumental duo Ray Charles Ives. Morgan Smith mediates the controlled-madness as the night's MC. The organizers speak hungrily about the live acts, especially since the musicians will have the opportunity to jam out on new EWA speakers.
Ray Charles Ives has always been welcomed with open arms at High Mayhem and, in fact, Paul Groetzinger says, "The band was born in that space."
The sound of Ray Charles Ives, which consists of Groetzinger and Brian Mayhall, falls somewhere in the range of atmospheric, bass-intensive funk underlined with improvisational pyrotechnics, but with a keyboard, sonic loops and no vocals.
"We're a project that almost never plays out, except for special occasions," Groetzinger says.
And this is a special occasion. Sure, the benefit helps defray the cost of new equipment, but that's still supporting better-sounding music.
And let's point out the obvious here: No one is making money from this, not one single dime; both Friedenberg and Santistevan emphasize this. That's usually the case with community-based media-art spaces. The whole enterprise is about contributing, pitching in and opening the doors to those interested in exploring new types of visuals and sound. It's a well-tread model. Invest with your heart and reap the innovative rewards.
"[High Mayhem has] happened because of some extremely generous and hardworking people," Friedenberg says. "In the future we'd like to forge more relationships with other organizations, do more fundraising. The space has been a catalyst for so many artists, musicians and others who want to come together and explore freedom of expression."
For those who can't make the Friday night event, Friedenberg is live-streaming the performances. People can help by donating via PayPal. So perch up that broken foot and boot up that computer. After all, "becoming a self-sustaining organization is as essential as running water," Friedenberg says.
Indeed, it's just as essential as the number of independent music spaces in any city, something Santa Fe is having a hard time with right now. It was at ***image2***the end of April that Meow Wolf was forced to stop hosting music events because of a lack of parking spaces [Zane's World, March 26: "Crying Wolf"]. A concern that Assistant Fire Chief Ted Bolleter has with High Mayhem. "If something were to happen over there we can't get an ambulance in because of all the cars,"? Bolleter tells SFR.
As of July 31 High Mayhem's lease will up in their current space and the group is already actively looking for a new space.
"High Mayhem isn't a place," Friedenberg says. "It's a community." Wherever it ends up that community will rally together on Friday to show its support for what is a new chapter in the local underground music scene.