Joe West, Young Man

Annual Joe West special goes on, this time in the comfort of your own home 

So, does anyone else have a new appreciation for Santa Fe's yearly traditions? In the spring, it felt like we had to toss them aside—y'know, to stay alive. Come winter, it's like we can't live without them. Maybe it has something to do with clinging to what we know and what feels good, but even in the virtual format, there's a sense of coming together this holiday season, and local musician Joe West knows how much we're longing for winter joy.

Right before Christmas, West takes his show online. In the past, the beloved Joe West's Annual Christmas Special went down live at local venues. This meant a lot of music and a lot of drinking. If you do it right, though, it'll be the same this year, just with a different field of view. Folk- and country-inspired, original music, classic Christmas tunes, pre-recorded skits, acting monologues and flamenco dancers round out the show alongside West's trademarked three-pronged charm/humor/kickass music skills offensive.

Live on YouTube and Facebook, you can RSVP through AMP Concerts, and donations are very much encouraged since it'll all be going to supporting the participating performers at the tail end of a year that seemed to do its best to kill art and music as we know them.

"Put on a robe, mix a good warm drink of choice and let the music just take you," West advises. "Someday we will all be together again—this is about rejoicing."

We concur. (Riley Gardner)

Joe West's Christmas Special:
7 pm Wednesday, Dec. 23. Donations encourages.

It’s a Perception Thing

Joe Illick and buds help us close out the worst year ever


Christmas is coming and there's not a thing you can do to stop it. May as well just lean into it, stay home and fire up the ol' computer or smart TV or tablet or whatever.

Additionally, you know as well as we do that when the ball drops, after "Auld Lang Syne" has been sung and the champagne goes flat, whatever ideas we had about a new year heralding a new beginning will probably fade, leaving us instead with a steady stream of reminders that illnesses don't end with the flipping of calendar pages and it'll surely take years to recover from the things the outgoing president has done.

But on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve? On those nights, we party to the best of our ability, friends, and we're hoping that means staying at home for most everyone.

Enter composer Joe Illick, an absolute beast of a musician and a longtime fan, promoter and purveyor of musics from opera to classical and beyond. Illick feels what you feel, and that's why he's gathered a cadre of musicians from around the globe to record special performances for Santa Feans, all of which can be viewed through the Lensic Performing Arts Center's online portal.

Find pre-taped jamz from the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, soprano Devon Guthrie, the Harlem Quartet, pianist Claire Huangci, Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet, baritone Andrew Wilkowske and others—all for free, all organized by Illick for both Christmas and New Year's Eves. It's the kind of cultural powerhouse coming-together of musical titans of which even bigger cities might be envious, and a great start to those "get more cultured" resolutions you should make. (Alex De Vore)

Christmas and New Year's Eve at the Lensic with Joe Illick and Friends:
All day Thursday, Dec. 24 and Thursday Dec. 31. Free.

Scrooge the past 12 Months

Public Domain

We don't know about you, but while we're missing live theater, we're also loving the unprecedented level of cultural access that can only come through virtual means. Take, for example, youth Shakespeare company Upstart Crows of Santa Fe, which presents a dramatic reading of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol—on actual Christmas! This nonprofit (we love our nonprofits here) has been opening the lyrical world of Shakespeare and theatrical readings to kids and teenagers who give up a little bit of their Christmas to perform the reading. That's a really nice thing to do. (RG)

A Christmas Carol Virtual Reading:
7 pm Friday, December 25. $12,

Haven’t We Metaphor?


Listen, there are many reasons the local poetry scene in Santa Fe is so astonishingly spectacular. As 2020 mercifully winds down and we hope 2021 brings us far less chaos, why not lift the soul with a bit of Zoom poetry? Teatro Paraguas hosts a live reading event with Dale Harris and Damien Flores as part of its ongoing poetry series. These two are some of the best working poets in the state, and though the event is free, we're encouraging donations so Teatro Paraguas can keep giving us stellar programs just like this. (RG)

Dale Harris & Damien Flores Zoom Poetry:
4 pm Sunday, Dec. 27. Free (but you should donate).

Now and Zen

Public Domain

We've tried meditating before, and despite assurances it was the key to the kind of personal enlightenment and blissful tranquility that sends folks up mountains, we found ourselves bored and unready. This year, though? We're willing to try anything to feel a little better. Should you be in search of similar revelations, look to Santa Fe's Mountain Cloud Zen Center and its Introduction to Zen class. COVID-19 forced the series online, but where better to chase nirvana than in your home? Don't forget to offer alms, and know that all are welcome so long as they're courteous, respectful and willing to take a chance at feeling better about [gestures wildly at everything]. (ADV)

Introduction to Zen:
5 pm Wednesday, Dec. 30. Free (but you should donate).

Room for Improv-ment

Courtesy Santa Fe Improv

No, that's not a typo, it's a wildly unfunny way of suggesting that improv classes, like meditation, might provide some personal insight. Also, you'll probably laugh and stuff. See, improv is all about saying that one word we all long to hear: Yes. By always saying yes, the scenes—which are made up on the spot in case you magically/depressingly don't know what improv is—keep rolling on, the yuks keep coming and participants learn something valuable about commitment, positivity and, like we said, yuks. Instructor Eric Weiss is ready to make your improv dreams come true over a variety of classes, and this one's for the beginners. With how bad 2020's been, what do you have to lose? (ADV)

Intro to Improv:
6-8 pm Wednesday, Dec. 30. $20 (payable by PayPal).