Now that Second Street Brewery can once again host eclectic live music at its original and Rufina Street locations, things are kind of looking up for people who missed rocking. Before the pandemic, Matron Records founder and leader of post-punk act Future Scars, Eliza Lutz, ran the show at Rufina, but with Lutz focusing more on label, arts and personal projects these days, bandmate Dylan Blanchard has heeded the call and taken the reins. An accomplished solo musician as well, Blanchard is uniquely aligned to bringing a variety of styles to each venue. We gave him a ring to talk about his plans, his jamz and the lay of the land. Catch the Korvin Balkan Brass Orkestar with Los Klezmerados de Santa Fe this Friday, Dec. 10 at the Second Street Rufina Taproom (8 pm. Free. 2920 Rufina St., (505) 954-1068).
Before we get to the new job, how’s your solo stuff going?
I have my debut full length LP coming out next year. I spent a lot of work on the record and the pandemic gave me a push to finish this thing that had been 80% done for a long time. 70% is me multi-tracking most of the instruments. I would do a lot multi-track, and bouncing ideas off collaborators; making records is really what I like to do. If I could have free rein over a studio, I’d make records al the time.
[The EP is] called Kind of a Bummer, and it’s pretty dark material. It’s definitely not a happy record, even if some of the music sounds happy. Eliza [Lutz] is helping me put it out on Matron in, I think, February or March, I don’t know yet.
You’ve come out of the gate swinging with a lot of shows lined up, and they all seem very different. Is keeping things varied an active goal?
I personally have a really wide taste in music, and I know there’s a huge appetite for all different kinds of music in this city. As small as Santa Fe is, there’s a lot of variety, and I wanted to reflect that. I didn’t want it to be like, ‘This is where you go for rock shows, that is where you go for Americana shows,’ and I’m trying not to book things based exclusively on my taste. Really, there’s so much enthusiasm for music right now, it’s mostly a matter of making time for everybody who wants to play.
Second Street has been super cool and super supportive about it. We were able to talk through what shows needed to look like, and...we essentially agreed as long as they’re not looking at show nights where we’re hemorrhaging money, they think show nights are cool. I’ll try to stick toward the weekend, but I’m trying to do shows with out-of-town bands, and sometimes they only have Tuesdays available. At the original location, music is only on Fridays. That’s a good spot for your more jazz and Americana stuff—quieter stuff.
What have you seen in the trenches of live music lately? Are audiences being cool and does it still feel good to host a packed show?
First off, I think I have to admit I hadn’t much been on the frontlines of music until I took this job. I hadn’t really been to shows as an audience member in a while. I don’t want it to be that way going forward. I don’t want to only be at people’s shows if I’m setting them up, it doesn’t feel right. It’s complicated, though, and I was looking at the news yesterday and had that question again: ‘Is this good? Should this be the thing I’m doing?’ I keep falling on the idea that I’m having to trust people’s judgment for better or worse when it comes to doing live music again.
People are largely good about masks, though it is hit and miss a little, and certainly the fact that if you’re eating or drinking you don’t have to wear a mask makes it a gray area. At shows as it gets later, it’s not uncommon to see people without masks. I don’t know where the cutoff lies, but it feels like if people are getting vaccinated and taking their precautions, if everyone is doing that, I think we’ll be OK taking care of ourselves. We can’t all know who’s doing what—we just have to trust it for now. It seems slightly easier to do that here in Santa Fe than in other parts of the country, but there’s this inherent underlying risk to gathering in public. It was there before COVID, but COVID made it very apparent and immediate. I’m trying to get back to some semblance of normal, and I guess we’re accepting this risk of live music because we need it.
It’s harder and harder to draw the line as COVID moves into the reality we live with and not a reactionary, unprecedented event. When it was unprecedented, it was easier to put things on hold. Now that it’s getting closer to two years, it’s more like this is the new reality. How do we live with that? Doing shows is part of it. And some people don’t have other ways of making money. I struggle with it, but I’ve decided to do live music and let time tell.