Following an amazing weekend full of great friends in from Denver and a killer outdoor show booked and promoted by AMP Concerts (with a little help from me, for disclosure’s sake), I was in a great mood. Maybe it’s the summertime un-blues, maybe it’s because my age is finally catching up with my crabby personality or maybe it was just because I started drinking again and the ladies seem to suddenly love me, but the next thing I knew, it was Tuesday evening, and I was standing outside Second Street Brewery’s Railyard location and talking with local DJ cp_squared (aka Charlie Parker) about the state of affairs with music, both local and not. That’s when it hit me: The area, and Santa Fe in general, has become a little bit awesome lately, and I think that kind of snuck up on a lot of us.

At the time of this fortuitous chat, I'd just taken in the bimonthly Open Mic hosted by Ben Wright (Mi, D Numbers). Not only was the usual talent on hand to slay, an amazing set from the unfortunately mostly unknown Andrew Cryptic—who y'all should search out as soon as he plays again—was basically perfect. The weather was straight delightful, the joy in my heart on running into filmmakers/musicians/actors/couple Jon Moritsugu and Amy Davis was palpable and Parker pointed out to me this one little thing that's been on the tip of a lot of our tongues for some time now, but we haven't quite been able to explain: The Railyard has somehow quietly grown into almost exactly what we were promised it would be when it was unveiled back in 2008.

Even just about a year ago, things were looking grim, as what was supposed to be a vibrant hub of arts and culture was home to a Verizon store, REI and little else. Anyone you saw in the Railyard was eating at the subpar (now-closed) Flying Star for the free Wi-Fi or simply getting in and out of Second Street Brewery as quickly as possible. Now the Violet Crown stands tall as a stellar example of 30 different beers on tap (also movies, I guess), Second Street continues to be the meeting place for just about everyone you know and the looming promise of that long-overdue bowling alley/concert space from the people who brought you the Bang Bite food truck hovers ever closer.

Then there's the Farmers Market, the annual AHA Fest, more events from AMP Concerts (such as the SFR Best of Santa Fe party, the free film series and performances from Red Elvises, Martin Sexton, Metalachi and more) and the films (both old and new) from the Jean Cocteau—which also houses a space for art events. Sanbusco still hosts the annual building of Zozobra as well as the stellar op.cit bookstore and other kick-ass shops, SITE Santa Fe sits just across the street from the water tower and is currently celebrating 20 years of expanding the boundaries of art, Warehouse 21 provides anything and everything a young artist could want…what?! Has the same town that once inspired nothing but a desperation to leave from its citizens now become a downright cultural phenomenon, with more to do than a single column can mention? Indeed, things are looking better now than they have in forever, and all the credit can be boiled down and basically applied to one entity (with only a couple exceptions): the local small-business owner.

So here's to you, Railyard businesses. Where else in town can you go and have just about every single corner of the artistic world represented? And though there are certainly still improvements to be made, it's inspiring to see that the hard work of so many people invested in the community is finally paying dividends.

This might just be the best summer ever, y'all, especially for all the beer-swilling, moviegoing, burger-loving music aficionados out there. Hell, I'm sure with pretty minimal planning, one could spend an entire day in the Railyard…and I also think it's cool that the Farmers Market Pavilion hosts the occasional quinceañera. The whole thing is a hell of a lot better than the terrifying dirt alleyway the space was in my youth. Besides, if nothing else, it beats Netflix (at least until it starts snowing again).

Happy summer, everybody!

Summer Events You’ve Just Gots to Know

While we couldn't possibly include every single thing to do this summer, here are a few highlights going down in the Railyard that oughtta make you glad you didn't already move to Portland or Austin. And please, party on, friends; try for the best summer you've ever had.

Grease
8 pm Friday, June 19

Get the family onboard and sing along with the legendary show that's all about changing who you are to impress someone you made out with one time. Maybe you'll have a summer like this, but one thing's for sure—it's a tale as old as time itself!

The Wizard of Oz
8 pm Friday, July 3

No, that's not a guy hanging himself in that one scene…it's a stork. And yes, this movie totally was a flop when it was released in 1939. That said, it has grown into a downright cultural phenomenon in the interim. We can all learn a little something from these weirdos who apparently possess no decent qualities whatsoever. Or maybe they do?

¡Cubanismo!
7 pm Saturday, July 18

If you find yourself wondering where all the trumpet-driven Cuban music is (or you just like your tunes like you like your sandwiches), this is the show for you!

The Goonies
8 pm Friday, Aug. 14

The beloved tale of a smart-ass group of kids whose irresponsible parents allow them to get mixed up with the mob in an attempt to steal historically significant pirate treasure that should probably belong to a state-run museum or something in order to save their broken-down, Rube Goldberg contraption-having homes. Baby Ruth? You bet!

Red Elvises
6 pm Sunday, Aug. 23

Whether you have fallen in love with surfy rockabilly tunes, are curious about said tunes or just never got over the totally bitchin' indie film Six-String Samurai, Red Elvises' communist brand of underground throwback rock is the kind of free-wheelin', capitalist-hating goodness you've been longing for.

Metalachi
6 pm Monday, Sept. 7

Sometimes you're like, "I love Metallica and all, but they're not really mariachi enough for my liking." And then bands like Metalachi hear you and take the concept of cover tunes to a whole new level of traditionally Mexican brilliance. Prepare to have your mind blown.

After Hours Alliance Festival
Saturday, Sept. 19 and Sunday, Sept. 20

What began as a loosely affiliated group of promoters has grown into one of the coolest arts and music fests in Santa Fe or anywhere. Check performances from Los Angeles/New Orleans act Lonesome Leash, new Santa Fe band Heavy Breather and many more. Plus, there's a car show, a totally cool five-band musical exchange with Denver's Underground Music Showcase (we're sendin' them five bands, they're sendin' us five), visual arts and probably those food trucks you've all been freaking out over.