As one of Santa Fe’s newest restaurants, Milagro 139 (139 W. San Francisco St., 995-0139) is off to a pretty excellent start—musically speaking.
The place is beautiful, kind of like a Spanish villa. With two stories of dining space and a glass-ceiling atrium, Milagro offers some type of live music every night of the week and, as of now, there is no cover to speak of. Plus, bartenders there make a killer margarita.
Each night at 10 pm, the restaurant becomes Milagro Lounge and the music begins. I stopped by on a Monday to check out the Santa Fe Mix, a new weekly radio program, hosted by Clayton Cheek and David Schwartz, which broadcasts on KBAC (98.1 FM) at 10 pm the following Monday. The June 1 show featured an interview and performance format with local musicians Jesús Bas, Joe West and Jim Almand. Each musician was given the chance to play three songs and talk about what they do and why.
Bas looks just like Antonio Banderas in Desperado and plays guitar twice as well. Hailing from Spain, his Flamenco style has been well studied and it shows. Watching his fingers move is almost like porn for a guitar player, as the speed he plays at is mind-boggling. Bas was set up with loop stations so he could provide his own backup vocals and, from time to time, tear into a ripping Spanish solo. What a performer! Bas can be seen every Wednesday at El Farol at 8 pm.
West and I were wearing the exact same shirt, so I knew he was cool. You can tell from watching West play that his roots are in alt.country, folk and rock. Just so, his stripped-down solo performance was restrained and wonderful. He gives the impression of Neil Young or perhaps even a little Elvis Costello. Then again, it may have just been seeing a dude in glasses playing a beautiful old guitar that made me think of Costello. West plays all over the place, all the time, in many projects and is the soul of what the Santa Fe Mix is all about: fantastic musicians living among us. Like vampires, but not as terrifying. Joe West can be seen at Cowgirl on Sunday mornings for brunch (11 am-2 pm), but check his website to make sure you catch him whenever you can.
Though his is not a household name, Almand damn well should be. He is everything you could ever want in a country-folk singer-songwriter. As far as I’m concerned, you could stack him up against Bob Dylan any day. He is a rare case of musician who blows your fucking mind by announcing that his next song is based on Barn Burning by Faulkner, while still seeming like the kind of guy you would want to have come over for beers. Almand transcends his genre, which is all too clogged by clones and bandwagon hipsters these days. True to his sound, Almand had me swooning and even gushing after he finished playing. I am really good at embarrassing myself. Luckily for us, Almand also plays 9 pm every Sunday at Milagro and 3:30-6:30 pm on Fridays at the Ore House.
Be sure to check out all the events at Milagro, but keep the Santa Fe Mix on Mondays in mind if you want to reacquaint yourself with our classic local musicians and discover exciting new ones.