From traditional American roots music at the Rodeo Grounds to high-culture classical music performed by musicians of international repute, this summer is an embarrassment of riches. Sure, the programming is sometimes black-tie mainstream, sometimes just shy of State Fair fare, but sonic and performing arts adventures also are in the offing. Here are some picks for Santa Fe's summer music festivals.
The Santa Fe Dance Festival: June 8-24
Moving People Dance Theater presents three programs, each with a unique flair, bringing heavy-hitting visiting dance troupes in collaboration with MPTD's considerable local talent. Giordana Jazz Dance Chicago, Alonzo King's Lines Ballet and Rulan Tangen's Dancing Earth are featured companies.
Live at the Paolo: Santa Fe's Community Concert Series: June 11-Aug. 28
Kudos to Jamie Lenfesty and FanMan Productions for reviving Paolo Soleri this year. Some of the most legendary and memorable shows in the history of Santa Fe have gone down at this funky venue, including Leonard Cohen, Fela Kuti, David Byrne, Carlos Santana and Blues Traveler. This year's shows include The Subdudes (7 pm Sunday, June 11); Bela Fleck and the Flecktones with Indigenous Feat and Mato Naji (7 pm Wednesday, June 21); the Violent Femmes with The Hollis Wake (7 pm Saturday, July 15); Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (7 pm Friday, July 28); and Nanci Griffith with Rodney Crowell and the Outsiders (7 pm Saturday, August 28).
The New Mexico Blues and Brews Festivals: June 18 and Sept. 3
Since 1976, The New Mexico Jazz Workshop has been hosting kick-ass, down-and-dirty outdoor blues concerts. ***image5***This year the venue is the College of Santa Fe's band shell, and sponsors include SFR and the Santa Fe Brewing Company. The June 18 Father's Day lineup features Todd Tijerina and Chris Dracup, as well as headliner Jim Sulher, lead guitarist for George Thorogood. Labor Day, Sept. 3, has Alex Maryol bringin' it all back home along with Albuquerque Blues Connection, Stan Hirsch and headliner Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones. It wouldn't be the blues without nicknames like Jr. Boy and local favorite Maryol.
Info and tickets: 505-255-9798, www.nmjazz.org
The Santa Fe Desert Chorale: July 6-Aug. 11
Six different programs are in the works, including the world premiere of John David Earnest's The First Day for choir, harp and clarinet; music by Bach and Palestrina; Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei; settings of Ave Maria by Igor Stravinsky and Morten Lauridsen, Renaissance madrigals and 19th century part-songs. In a laudable collaboration with Santa Fe New Music, the Chorale offers "Hear and Now: Voices of the Earth," featuring Mesa Songs by Judith Cloud; Bradley Bodine's Desert Songs; and, from France, Emmanuel Sejourne's The Book of Gems. Also planned: a Gilbert and Sullivan extravaganza and an evening of Broadway, pop and cabaret.
Info and tickets: 988-2282, www.desertchorale.org
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival: July 16-Aug. 21
Since 1972, the Chamber Music Festival has been a mainstay of the international classical music summer festival scene (venues include the Lensic and St. Francis Auditorium). A year-round operation and a central cog in Santa Fe's arts and culture economy, this annual orgy of performances is rivaled only by the Santa Fe Opera for its impact. Sometimes railed at as middle of the road and lacking in risk-taking artistic vision, the Chamber Music Festival organization in general couldn't care less, as ticket sales are solid year after year. This year the programming MO looks sly indeed. There's Mozart, some Bach, a little Beethoven and Vivaldi. But several evenings sneak in Dvorak, Bartok, Neikrug, Busoni and Shostakovich. ***image2***There's a taste of Poulenc and Berio as well. World Music nights feature Anoushka Shankar on sitar with a large ensemble and internationally acclaimed virtuoso Wu Man in a solo pipa (Chinese lute) performance.
Info and tickets: 982-1890, www.sfcmf.org
New Mexico Jazz Festival: July 20-29
Tom Guralnick, director of the Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque, describes this brand new festival as "a cool, collaborative bi-city effort." The festival is still taking shape, with Santa Fe shows scheduled for the Lensic and many Albuquerque events as well. Lensic GM Bob Martin and Guralnick, as well as the Santa Fe Jazz Foundation and the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, jumped in when it was announced there would not be a Santa Fe Jazz and International Music Festival this year. Bookings taking shape at press time include Branford Marsalis, George Wein and the Newport Allstars and many others. The highpoint of the festival: the McCoy Tyner Septet featuring a killer lineup, including Steve Turre, Charnett Moffett and Eric Gravatt.
Info and tickets: 988-1234, www.outpostspace.org
Maria Benitez in "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow": July 21-Sept. 3
For 34 years, Maria Benitez and her troupe, Teatro Flamenco, have been presenting summer concerts. The show this year is a retrospective of her career, including archival film, video and still photographic backdrops. Benitez, recently awarded Spain's highest arts honor, La Cruz de Isabel la Catolica, returns to the stage after a two-year hiatus.
Info and tickets: 982-1237, www.mariabenitez.com
***image1***Santa Fe Traditional and Bluegrass Music Festival: Aug. 25-27
For the 32nd year, the Southwest Traditional and Bluegrass Music Association throws its summer hoedown at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds on Rodeo Road, this year featuring the Troublesome Creek String Band, Sweet Sunny South, Bluegrass Patriots and the Chapmans.
Info and tickets: www.southwestpickers.org
Thirsty Ear Festival: Sept. 1-3
This is the seventh annual outing for this festival, which gets better by quantum leaps each time out. ***image4***Who can forget the post-thunderstorm summer night last year with a double bill of the inimitable Otis Taylor followed by Rickie Lee Jones, who delivered a heart-stopping performance that epitomized American vocal genius? This year it's Patti Griffin, Greg Brown, Dave Alvin, Honeyboy Edwards, the Be Good Tanyas, Po' Girl and many others who will transform Eaves Movie Ranch into roots and folk music heaven.
Info and tickets: 473-5723, www.thirstyearfestival.com