NOT REALLY WILD…
But it was a great and different weekend. Let me tell you about it, right after this local note.
The movie title above was a dreadful 1965 attempt to cash in on the fame of The Dave Clark Five — no “Hard Day’s Night,” this — that probably popped into my head because I’ve been thinking of Eric Burdon and his upcoming show tomorrow night on the Pier; he was also part of that first and best British Invasion. Burdon, lead singer for The Animals, unlike most of his pop contemporaries, was the real deal. A serious, dedicated blues singer, stealing from the American originals like all the others, but trying hard to do it right. He had the voice, he had the attitude. And past all the ‘60s hoopla, he’s been doing it ever since. Bluesmen never quit, they want to die on stage, or at least with a gig on the calendar.
So I heartily applaud the Pier concert booking this week. I’ve listened to a lot of cuts by the opening act, locals Mr. Elevator, with their trippy lyrics and organ swirls, and I think they will put on a really good show too. Not that I want any of you to show up Thursday and block my view, hear?
Started by flying Thursday night into Albuquerque, where I grew up, on Allegiant Air. Very cheap fares on Allegiant Air. Sure, they charge for everything, but I can live with that. But when I boarded and saw that all the “seats” were just immovable strips of hard plastic bolted in place, really really really narrow with very little leg room, I got worried, and I was right. THE most uncomfortable “seats” I have ever experienced, by far. Torture.
Upon landing I saw that our Uber driver was named Saul. Better Call Saul! And in fact he told us he was an extra in the much lauded “Breaking Bad” series filmed there.
Albuquerque went bananas for “Breaking Bad,” and still is. Go figure. Link your international image to a high school teacher turned murderous meth dealer. So much for The Land of Enchantment (the state motto).
Saul dropped us off at a friend’s house to steal her car — drinking port in Portugal still, Fay generously offered it. Then off to Jill Silverthorne’s to stay the night before heading to our destination, Santa Fe. The next morning she set the breakfast table with a Hatch green chile omelet, bacon and mimosas made with the award-winning local champagne, Gruet. Big bonus: we were joined by another old friend who lives just down the hall, magician Tony Comito (showed up with lox and bagels!), officially retired but performing a few last shows before the imminent closing of the only magic shop and theater left in Alburquerque, and we were delighted to find out we could make the Sunday afternoon show before flying home.
I first saw it 45 years ago, and here he is, several cities and name changes later, still enchanting young and old with sleight of hand. Jill, when I first met her around the same time, was a mime, a fire eater, a juggler and a tightrope walker, but with a PBS background and enough cred to wind up being hired by Frank Zappa to organize his vast libraries of original work. (She has a credit on “200 Motels,” and lots of stories.) I bolted Albuquerque because it felt like a place where you could get stuck, with a low ceiling, but I now respect those who stayed or came back and have followed their artistic dreams despite not enough pay or recognition.
Then off to our friends’ beautiful adobe home (they were in Colorado — God bless my footloose friends) on the outskirts of Santa Fe. When you hit the highway for the hour’s drive north from Albuquerque, you see the landscape that enchants. The flat, scrub-dotted high desert stretches out so far in every direction, bumping up against the looming peaks of the tail end of the Rockies, the big sky filled with striking white cloud formations against a blue palette. It’s no wonder so many artists are drawn here.
I STILL LOVE THE ADOBES
And the lay of the land and the unique cuisine, but my wife Dian and I were there for the International Folk Art Market, and it did not disappoint. For this 14th edition they featured more than 160 artists from more than 50 nations.
When you step onto the grounds on Museum Hill, it’s like the United Nations. Many artists are in native dress, and the range and consistent quality of work presented is hard to believe and hard to take in, in a limited amount of time. What a great idea this is, and so well executed. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a festival or market of any kind that showed more attention to important details. They have more than 2,000 volunteers, and wish they had more. I think every artist has their own personal volunteer, who learns their work very thoroughly. They have many volunteers holding up a tall sign that says “Help? Ask me!” Much better than trying to hunt up the information booth.
VIP/Preview, Friday night: expensive but worth it. So smart by the organizers. $225 admission (yikes!) for only an evening, 2-½ hours ($15-20 the next two days), but for that you get smaller crowds, in the cooler evening, they feed you and booze you, and most importantly the serious collectors get first shot at the best stuff. People watching that night is great fun. Forget the artists’ outfits, I love seeing old white guys sporting their colorful handmade Nigerian brimless hats.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Haven’t you left something out, Charles? What really brought you to Santa Fe? OK, there is more to that story and it began in Cuba four months ago and will be told, perhaps in my new column called “Noteworthy.” It will be mostly about music, but then I haven’t told you about Meow Wolf either, and Tony Gilkyson’s great concert there. Maybe tomorrow, or at least by next Thursday in our new Weekender edition.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” — Victor Pinchuk
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com