3 Questions

3 Questions With Boxcar Entertainment Director Dominick Gonzales

Downtown Santa Fe regains a dedicated mid-sized music venue

Most folks likely know Dominick Gonzales as local DJ Dmonic, but as venue/bar/restaurant Boxcar stretches out following its move from the Railyard to its new Plaza-adjacent Water Street location, he will tackle a new role—that of the business’ first-ever dedicated entertainment director. A veteran of the decks with more than two decades of performance and promotion experience under his belt, Gonzales says he hopes to transform Boxcar from a place folks regard as a bar with music into a full-fledged downtown mid-sized concert space. As the town could totally use something like that, we gave him a call with some Qs. Let’s get to those sweet, sweet As. This interview has been edited for length and concision.

Let’s talk about your own project first. DJs can obviously encompass so many genres and sub-genres. How would you describe your own contributions?

In the beginning I learned on turntables, the fundamentals of DJ—beat matching, scratching, blending, song selection. I started doing it at 15 and basically convinced my parents and grandparents to buy me turntables for Christmas. I was always a fan of local music and culture, and from a young age I was reading local publications and trying to figure out where I could catch DJs and bands.

I’d listen to KUNM’s Street Beat; and in Santa Fe, I’d watch [DJs like] Donovan and The Rev…the house DJs. Between the hip-hop I was listening to and the house music, I created my own style with hip-hop, house, reggae, reggaeton, a little blend of everything. And part of that comes from watching all these DJs, but at the end of the day, I loved music so much, so for me being able to create these moments on the dancefloor for people who’ve been working all week, going through this or that—or maybe they had a great week, I don’t know—if I could create the vibe? One of my mentors growing up was Sol [Bentley]. He took me under his wing and we’ve been able to build a lot over the last 10 years to the point that people know if they see me and Sol on a flier, it’s going to be a certain kind of party.

As someone in the music trenches week after week, how would you describe the current state of the Santa Fe scene?

It’s kind of cool because for the first time, I feel, in quite a while, there’s some positive growth in the music community. There are venues popping up, more places to play and a younger demographic coming up who are gigging musicians. For a while, we were losing venues, but now, for the first time since the pandemic, it’s popping off.

And everybody wants a DJ again, a band again, a musician again. There are crews coming up, throwing parties. For the longest time you only had Joe Ray [Sandoval] and Sol, now…you’ve got Raashan Ahmad, or we just had a great act in Boxcar playing blues—Zay Santos. There’s more, of course, but these are things that give me hope. Losing Warehouse 21, all this stuff that’s happened to the scene? Now it feels like there’s positive rebirth.

What do you envision for the future of shows at Boxcar in terms of styles, scope etc?

On New Year’s Eve, owners [Tate Mruz and Slywia Handzel] and I were talking about the future of Boxcar, and we started talking about everything I’ve done in the past as far as coordinating events, concerts…and my vision for what the place could be really aligned with theirs. It segued into this whole, ‘new Boxcar has a different vibe from the old Boxcar, and we need someone to run the entertainment.’

There’s the sports bar, the daytime dining, the patio, the café and now we have one music performance room and a side DJ room. And when they set out to open, they wanted to have a little bit of something for everybody at all times. What we have on our hands is a beautiful live music venue-slash-nightclub, a nice café where we offer jazz and/or dinner music, a patio where we can have DJs or a flamenco guitarist in the afternoon.

We all know there are great DJs at Boxcar, but what I’d like to do is give Santa Fe what it desperately needs—a medium-sized music venue.

Coming up we have a show with Metalachi; we have Albuquerque’s Red Light Cameras coming through; some reggae tours; hip-hop; The Red Elvises. We’re trying to cover a little bit of everything. I have a big show [March 8] where we have Rhett Haney, a country artist from Nashville. My vision is we’re going to have these concerts throughout the week, and especially on the weekends, so you know if you come into Boxcar any Friday or Saturday, there’s going to be a band playing. There might even be two.

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