Well, here it is, nerds—the final column.
Originally, I had planned to name names and take a bunch of people down with me, but since that would be crazy (right?), I’ve chosen instead to offer a little bit of advice to the new music dude, Loren Bienvenu.
Truth be told, I don’t remember him from the glory days of Warehouse 21, but as I’ve been told that he used to hang around the place back when it was magical, I’m confident that homeboy knows what he’s doing. I also understand he’s a musician (which I fucking am, too, for all y’all who kept telling me “those who can’t do, criticize.” For the last fucking time, I’ve played guitar for 20 years! God, that felt good to say at long last!).
Anyway, good luck, Loren…you’re gonna need it.
It’s gonna be fun at first, I swear! Just try to remember that even though a lot of these people you’ll be meeting are going to be nice to you at first, it won’t be long before they tell you all about everything I did wrong and how I just about single-handedly destroyed local music forever and ever.
Then, they’ll spin you some outrageous tale about how you and them will make Santa Fe a glorious bastion of music within the Southwest.
Once you’re past this initial “friends” point, the job is basically hanging out and watching bands play, listening to free CDs and, probably the best part of all, wielding a power so great that you’ll be transformed into some sort of new god! Just try to pace yourself, man, because it’s real easy to get burned out.
Y’know, because we have, like, five venues and the same seven bands play them all the time.
This is why you’ll need to find people like Chris Quintana, Mikey Baker, Paul Feathericci, Jono Manson, Johny Broomdust, Tim Franke, Cas Uno, Shannon Murphy and, well, plenty of others. These people have not only done incredible things for the scene, they are normal, realistic humans who totally understand that it’s unfair for musicians to assume it’s the world’s obligation to love every last note they produce.
Not only will these promoters and musicians totally help you when you need it, they also tend to be pretty punctual with their calendar listings. These are the people that understand that cultural osmosis is not a viable means of promotion, and they’ll totally give you their phone numbers and stuff.
Do your best to be honest. Not that I know what it’s like myself, but I’d imagine that going out of your way to try and please or hurt musicians or perhaps exaggerating how much you did or didn’t like something would make you feel kind of awful.
Besides, no matter what you do, you’re going to piss somebody off. Seriously, Loren. This town is never happy.
Don’t take it too seriously, though. Like I said, this town is never happy and, in many cases, these musicians and promoters aren’t looking for a critic. They’re looking for someone to silence those doubtful whispers that say things like, “Austin didn’t care about your band.” Or, “Maybe we should write an original song now and then.” Or, “Maybe 15 shows a month is too much.” When these things start to drive you crazy—and I promise you they will—take a step back and remember that all-important truth about being the local music critic: It is not your job to make this scene work! That’s a job for the musicians and the promoters. And no matter how many people tell you that you’ll help bolster tourism or up the attendance of certain venues or make and break the careers of locals, you can’t let them get to you.
If these bands and musicians want to hit the road and see how well they do outside the comfort of their familiar and precious Santa Fe, they should. But as long as they are playing shows in your town, you have a responsibility to present your honest-to-God opinion.
Godspeed, Loren. Godspeed.
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