Once an up-and-coming arts space, Little Wing is now simply a promoter. And Santa Fe, it’s all your fault. The year-old venue, opened and facilitated by Ross Hamlin and The Candyman Strings & Things, was shut down by the city last month for not meeting assembly requirements, including handicap bathrooms. Little Wing hosted various concerts, art installations, listening parties and more, but now it relies on other venues to absorb current and future shows.
Little Wing officially closed for legal reasons, but the financial burden from lack of attendance and/or interest might have closed the venue anyway.
“We were never making the rent and always wound up with a deficit at the end of the month,” Hamlin tells SFR. “I was constantly dipping into my own pockets to cover the difference…I probably would have pulled the plug when the lease ended in July.”
Face it, the closure is hardly surprising. Santa Fe is really great when it comes to bemoaning the loss of—or the prospect of losing—places we don’t support in the first place. Just look at how many people go on and on about Warehouse 21 being an important resource, but never attend a show.
“So many people kept saying, ‘I’d really like to support Little Wing,’ but would never follow through,” Hamlin says.
Ultimately, the combination of an inconvenient location (read: not near Guadalupe Street) and lack of booze stood in the way of Little Wing’s success from the get-go.
“What does this need for alcohol say about us as a culture?” Hamlin asks. “And not just in Santa Fe…it’s everywhere.”
Ironically, it was Electrovibe Events promoter Isaiah Rodriguez’ attempts to provide booze at his Little Wing DJ shows that initially put the space on the city’s radar.
Little Wing now books shows once or twice a month at other venues, including Eggman & Walrus, Warehouse 21, Santa Fe Performance Exchange and Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
“Little Wing will maintain a strong presence in the local scene thanks to some cool people and places that have partnered with us,” Hamlin tells SFR.
First on the list of new shows is a performance from local drummer Dave Wayne and his newest avant-jazz project, Do Tell. Wayne is best-known for similar act Things That Are Heard, a project that pushes the boundaries of music theory and experimentalism while remaining rooted in an accessibly jazzy style. Wayne is a monster on the drums, and any of his musical projects are consistently incredible to hear and exciting to see live. Little Wing also has an art show set for June at Warehouse 21.
Plans for the old Little Wing space have not been solidified, according to Candyman owner and manager Rand Cook.
“We are currently looking for a tenant, but it will probably be the rehearsal space for our summer kids’ rock band classes [Rock Camp] for now,” Cook says. “There has been talk of transforming it into a room for pro audio stuff and big PA equipment, but we’re not sure just yet.”
Despite the loss of Little Wing’s physical location, Hamlin isn’t dwelling on the past.
“I don’t just want to sit here and lament who didn’t do what,” he says. “I also want to thank the many people that did get involved or donated time, money or effort.” He’s also relieved “to not have money to stress over and to have more time to focus on my own life and musical pursuits.”
Santa Fe, meanwhile, has time to rethink its priorities.
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