John ‘n’ Greg ‘n’ Casey
John Francis Trio plays the hits
"If we want to narrow it down to songwriters, I'd say it sounds like The Beatles meets JJ Cale meets James Taylor," musician Greg Butera says of the John Francis Trio, a new-ish act comprised of Butera on electric guitar alongside principal songwriter and guitarist John Francis Mustain and bassist Casey Anderson. "There's definitely some mellowness to it, there's some smooth stuff, but we don't hesitate to get a little more rocking."
As leader of the group, Mustain agrees, though cites everything the band does as the organic coming-together of the collaboration rather than some mandate he's driving toward in his mind. He says the bulk of decisions rest with him, but he's chosen to work with Butera and Anderson because he trusts them and their musicality completely.
"I don't have arrangements for three different musicians," Mustain tells SFR, "and I do try to keep it open to [Butera and Anderson]—they're pros, and I want them to be invested in the songs."
Mustain hails from Mississippi and came up singing in the church. Such gospel tunes are part of the foundation of his songwriting, but he says his father's collection of Beatles, The Cars and soul and Motown played their part as well. Without pigeonholing his own sound, Mustain most often describes his catalog as pop music with three-part vocal harmonies; there's a certain country bent in the music's subtext courtesy of Butera, and Anderson's jazzy sensibilities play a role as well, though neither overtly. Think of the John Francis Trio like an amalgamation of Santa Fe's favorite genres pushed through Mustain's introverted singer-songwriter filter.
Mustain's story is a common one for plenty of residents—head to Santa Fe and find yourself—and he maintains his move here five-ish years ago helped him evolve as a person and songwriter.
"I feel like Santa Fe has been a place that I've been allowed to grow up in, and to have the time to figure out the direction I'm gonna grow up," he says. "Success is an interesting word. I think I'm finding the foundation of that in Santa Fe in a lot of realms." (Alex De Vore)
John Francis Trio
7 pm Sunday March 17. Free.
Santa Fe Spirits Downtown Tasting Room,
308 Read St.,
Santa Fe-based comic artist Alec Longstreth lives by a simple goal: Draw comics every day. As in EVERY DAY. And it's a creed that's served him well—Longstreth is an Ignatz Award-winning comic creator whose Phase Seven mini-comic has wowed fans since 2002, and now he's passing on those life skills to you, the miniature comic aficionado. In reality, Longstreth's advice would probably work for a variety of fields, and either way, he's just so talented. Find him this Thursday morning (yeah, morning) at the Santa Fe Art Institute on the former Santa Fe University of Art & Design campus as part of the Corps Coffee series. It'll be worth it to get up early. (ADV)
Corps Coffee with Alec Longstreth:
8:30 am Thursday March 14. Free.
Santa Fe Art Institute,
1600 St. Michael's Drive,
OK, so the big gala's actually in July, but hear us when we say you've gotta get to SITE Santa Fe for the "soft" opening of Bel Canto: Contemporary Artists Explore Opera. It's part of months' worth of events in conjunction with the Santa Fe Opera and the Lensic, and finds numerous contemporary photographers, conceptual artists, filmmakers and art directors coming together to celebrate lesser-known aspects of opera, opera houses, international production and so much more. From what we've seen already, SITE is continuing its wild show-to-show transition like some sort of super museum. We do not tell half of what we know, for we fear we'd not be believed. Be there. (ADV)
Bel Canto: Contemporary Artists Explore Opera:
10 am-5 pm Saturday March 16. Free.
SITE Santa Fe,
1607 Paseo de Peralta,
This is not the punk rock you might have been expecting from Against Me! founder and frontwoman Laura Jane Grace—this is intimate and pared-back; this is a glorious break from the norm from a poetic lyricist looking to expand her horizons and merge certain punk undertones with elements of stoner rock, folk punk and introspection. Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers' debut Bought to Rot from late 2018 has famously been referred to as a sort of mixtape by Grace herself, a coming-together of varying styles meant to serve as a side quest for the Florida musician and friends. And though it might not wow the punk set or even be particularly recognizable, Grace's ethos and ability are as sharp as ever. Side project? Maybe—but a powerfully enticing one every bit as meaningful as Grace's more well-known material. (ADV)
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers:
7 pm Tuesday March 19. $22-$25.
1352 Rufina Circle,