As the summer wanes and tourists who’ve come for the Santa Fe Opera and the Chamber Music Festival head home, Santa Fe Music Week steps into the void. The festival embraces all genres of music and the city’s many performance spaces; local musicians are featured right along with big-name acts who tour the world.
The second iteration of the festival begins Friday, Aug. 23, and runs through Aug. 31. Musicians will appear at more than 25 performance spaces, ranging from large-capacity venues like the opera and the Lensic Center for the Performing Arts to more intimate settings like the Santa Fe Brewing Company and Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return. Joining them are a host of the city’s cozy clubs, bars, hotel lounges, and outdoor spaces.
The festival is an informal organization of promoters (notably AMP Productions), as well as venue operators (including the Lensic) and sponsors (such as the Santa Fe New Mexican), all operating under Tourism Santa Fe, said Randy Randall, the organization’s executive director.
“We will celebrate anybody who wants to put up any kind of musical event, as long as it’s at an appropriate venue,” Randall said. “Ticket prices and covers are up to the organization.” (Festival attendees will be able to purchase a Music Week lanyard that gives them various discounts on club cover charges and refreshments.) “Many communities have music festivals,” Randall said. “We have lots of music year-round. And this just brings extra focus on what we have every week.”
Organizers hope that the event will not only bring attention to the vibrant music scene but will also attract visitors to the city during the slow weeks between Indian Market in mid-August and Labor Day. “By having a few pillar events at the opera and involving programs like Music On the Plaza and the places around town that offer entertainment, we had the start of Santa Fe Music Week,” said Ryan Dodge, program and events manager for Tourism Santa Fe.
The festival is anchored by performances from A-list celebrities that draw concertgoers from near and far. Performances by Ringo Starr (Aug. 25) and Kacey Musgraves (Aug. 28) are sold out, but Boz Scaggs (Aug. 27) and the Mariachi Extravaganza (Aug. 31) also light up the Santa FeOpera (santafeopera.org) in the days after its summer season ends.
Included under the Music Week banner is a wide range of styles, giving a sense of the diverse Santa Fe music scene. Among the options, there is the Santa Fe Traditional Music Festival (santafetradfest.org) at Camp Stoney, with folk, bluegrass, Americana, and more on three stages, from Aug. 23-25. There’s also the final performance of Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers at the SFO; the New Mexico Music Commission’s Platinum Music Awards Show, which honors the state’s heavy hitters in music at the Lensic Performing Arts Center (lensic.org); the jazz trio Three Faces of Jazz at El Meson (elmeson-santafe.com); and the rock combo Aaron Stephens Band at Cowgirl BBQ (cowgirlsantafe.com).
Among the many other events, the second annual Santa Fe Soul Festival Gospel Concert takes place at the St. Francis Auditorium at 4 and 5 p.m. on Aug. 25 (santafesoulfestival.brownpapertickets.com); Appalachia-meets-blues vocalist Valerie June appears on Aug. 24 and progressive bluesman Fantastic Negrito takes the stage on Aug. 31 in free Railyard concerts (ampconcerts.org); and on Aug. 31, the internationally celebrated jazz clarinetist Eddie Daniels plays Dave’s Jazz Room at the Santa Fe School of Cooking (santafemusicweek.com).
There’s also the self-labeled “Zyde-Tejano blues” band Felix y Los Gatos at the Santa Fe Brewing Company on Aug. 25 (santafebrewingco.com) and a trio of shows scheduled at Meow Wolf (meowwolf.com). And did we mention strolling mariachi bands during afternoons on the Plaza?
If Santa Fe Music Week continues to grow, a nonprofit may be developed to spearhead the event.
“I’d like to see the city kick in to bring special events at the opera to fill the whole week — a series of shows that are promoted to bring people in from around the country,” said Jamie Lenfestey, director of AMP Concerts Santa Fe/Taos operations. “There’s a lot of potential here. I want to see it grow.”
For information and a full event listing go to santafemusicweek.com.