OK, so you know how we do that huge Best of Santa Fe issue every year? Sure you do, it’s the one that lets you nominate and vote for your favorite, uh, everything that Santa Fe has to offer and that also coincides with that huge Best of Santa Fe party of ours? Well guess what—we’re changing it up just a little bit here. We are just the worst at keeping secrets, and since we had already tabulated the votes from more than 17,480 registered users (that’s, like, so many users, you guys), we thought y’all might want to get the info on the winners of our music categories just a little bit early. This way they won’t just be buried in there between Best Dog Hairbrush Manufacturer and Best City Surveyor. Our line of thought was inspired by all the nationwide voting madness and, given all the crazy voting weirdness, we thought you’d like to see democracy actually work. Besides, these people work their asses off to bring you good music, and you chose ’em, Santa Fe. So read on and learn about who you believe to be the very best bands and musicians in town. And then get out there and see them live ... y’know, since you love them so damn much.
Country or Americana
Oh, surely by now you’re more than aware of the tremendous talent that is Bill Hearne. He’s the stuff of legend, the kind of flat-pickin’ country badass they just don’t make anymore. Over the years, Hearne has produced more albums and played more live concerts than most could even dream of, and his schedule of appearances remains pretty full to this day. “I’ll have 25 years at La Fonda next February, and I couldn’t be more honored,” Hearne says. “I’m just … it’s deeply appreciated to be a repeat winner and to be loved by my hometown folks.” Good ol’ Bill says he’s got tentative plans to get to work on a new album with his nephew, Michael Hearne, and that they’ll utilize crowdfunding to do so. And he always appears at Michael’s Big Barn Dance up in Taos, but don’t wait till September: Catch him right here in town. When you do see him, make sure you say hi. Hearne is one of the nicest guys around, which is cool because usually awesome musicians are weirdos.
Anthony Leon and the Chain
OK, so maybe they’re slightly more reggae in nature, but front man Mark Ortiz (who you may know as the MC Circumference) lays down the rhymes so smooth, and you know you love it. And sure, it’s a little tricky to categorize a reggae band with an MC frontman, but it seems like you’ve worked it out. Anyway, it isn’t like we’re swimming in reggae bands around here, and Boomroots Collective is pretty for real when it comes to that whole “good vibes” thing.
“We are honored and excited to use this to fuel our passion in the studio as we work on our second release. Our main goal has always been to bring feel-good music, vibes and energy to our live shows,” Ortiz says. “We are always bringing a conscious message, whether it be social, economic, political or spiritual.” And really, that’s what you want in a hip-hop/reggae group. Well, that and an awesome soundtrack to which you can get really stoned. Ha ha! Weed jokes!
Space Mob Cadets
Fields of Elysium
Music streaming giant Spotify recently discovered that more people are listening to metal than any other genre, and it’s not really that surprising; metal fans are loyal. Just look at the explosive reaction to the genre on a local level, and you know that those who search for heavier jams are some of the most passionate of all music fans. “Our influences, though largely metal, vary so much, and while writing is an interesting process for us, the underlying theme that stays true regardless of method is that we really want to make music that we would listen to,” guitarist/vocalist Quanah Lee tells SFR. “We strive to make music we love, even at the risk of being unpopular.”
Well, Fields, you’re clearly not unpopular.
If ever there was a poster boy for the term “hometown hero,” it’s Maryol and his long-standing love affair with blues-rock. Recent years, however, have found Maryol exploring the more traditional rock elements of his craft while cautiously expanding into territory we might call indie-rock. Throw in a sassy new beard and his trademark technical guitar skill, and you’ve got one of the best our town has seen. Maryol is, in fact, so good that even though he plays solo most of the time, the city of Santa Fe has seen fit to award him a win in the band cateogy. This means that he’s doing the work of at least three people. But have you seen him play? Maybe we should say “slay,” because when this guy picks up a guitar, everyone else who plays guitar just feels terrible about what they’ve been calling music this whole time. “I feel very honored to have been voted best rock band,” Maryol says, “and to have such awesome support from Santa Fe music lovers.”
JJ and the Hooligans
Thieves & Gypsys