From local groups to international acts to Grammy Award-winning musicians and themed festivals, this year’s New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series season has something for everyone.
Currently, all shows are scheduled as in-person concerts with COVID-19 protocols including masking and temperature checks, said Ronna Kalish, PAS director. However, these are subject to change. All shows will be live-streamed as well. And all shows are at affordable prices you won’t find anywhere else. Up-to-date information and a season brochure are available at the PAS website: nmt.edu/pas, emailing [email protected], or calling (575) 835-5688.
“I am super excited about the season,” Kalish said. “We are bringing some folks back, like Terrance Simien, all the way from Louisiana. Pink Freud, the headliner for Socorro Fest several years ago, and live-streamed at Macey Center last season without an audience was just too good not to bring back for the full-on live concert and light show.”
The first concert, set for Friday, Sept. 17, features Eliza Gilkyson, a two-time Grammy-winning folk musician. She will be joined by opening act Rooster Blackspur, an Alaskan-born, New Mexico-based folk musician. They will also present a songwriting workshop scheduled for the next day. Something Eliza and Rooster have in common is being lauded Songwriter of the Year by their respective cities: Austin and Albuquerque. And another is their unique voice and impassioned songwriting style.
Some concerts that were canceled last year have been rescheduled for this year. Traditional events return, such as the annual Community Arts Party and the free Presidential Chamber Music series. Newly created Socorro Sessions, tailgate and picnic concerts featuring Socorro and New Mexico artists will also be featured events. A welcome-back drive-in concert has already kicked off Socorro Sessions on Saturday, August 21. The Hispanic Heritage Fiesta (Socorro style!) will be Saturday, Sept. 25. And Halloween-themed Monster Mash Fest will be Saturday, Oct. 30. The newly-launched Women’s Fest event is scheduled for March 25-26, 2022.
Here’s the concert line-up:
Friday, Sept. 17: Eliza Gilkyson and Rooster Blackspur. Gilkyson has lived off-and-on in Northern New Mexico, now on permanently, and had made Austin, TX her home for years. She has received numerous music awards including two Grammys, and her 2015 album Nocturne Diaries also was nominated for a Grammy. Her songs have been sung by Joan Baez, among others. Rooster Blackspur was born in Alaska but moved to Truth or Consequences a few years ago, saying she “struck gold in the quirky, small desert town.” Rooster calls her songs Southwestern Soul and describes herself as a motivational musician. “Love is the answer and music is the antidote,” she says. The concert on Friday night is followed by a songwriting workshop on Saturday; email [email protected] if you would like to attend.
Saturday, Sept. 25: Socorro Sessions Hispanic Heritage Fiesta outdoor/tailgate party. This first-time event will feature lots of Socorro talent, including performances by The Murillos and Suavecito, with a special focus on Socorro traditions, including local food specialties, chile roasting, art booths, demonstrations, speakers, a bit of theater ala Judge Frances Cases, and an open mic. Please email [email protected] if you would like to perform a couple of songs (with local Socorro Hispanic heritage as the theme), or dance or do some comedy, whatever; or do a demo relevant to local culture, or have an art booth.
Thursday, Oct. 7: Catapult, semifinalists on America’s Got Talent, is a shadow dance group of talented performers. Currently on tour nationally, Catapult is led by director Adam Battelstein, who has danced on Oprah, soloed at Carnegie Hall and performed at the Academy Awards. He leads a group of talented and experienced dancers in a performance with choreography that is hard to believe in intricacy and exactness. The Socorro performance is one of only two in New Mexico.
Friday, Oct. 22: Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, is a two-time Grammy Award-winning group that has elevated Zydeco music into the national music scene. An eighth-generation Louisiana Creole, Simien has been shattering the myths about what his indigenous Zydeco roots music is – and is not; becoming recognized as a leading American roots musician. This is a return engagement for the group, one that is sure to get the audience dancing.
Saturday, Oct. 30: Another new Socorro Session event, “Monster Mash” will feature events and music with a Halloween theme good for the entire family. Think music, trunk’or’treat, food, piñatas, maybe fireworks and more.
Friday, Nov. 19: Baracutanga is a seven-piece band, representing four different countries (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and the U.S.), that blends South American ancestral traditions with a modern sensibility. Their exciting and distinct Latin flavor keeps crowds dancing and always wanting more. “Baracutanga was so amazing at the Primero de Mayo concert,” said Kalish. “It’s why I decided to bring them back. They are killer musicians, every one of them, really lovely people, with a righteous message.”
Saturday, Dec. 18: Seasonal favorite, Mariachi Christmas returns with the colorful swirls of the Ballet Folklorico troupe and traditional mariachi music.
Monday, Jan. 17, 2022: Lightwire Theater’s Dino-Light, a recipient of the prestigious Jim Henson Foundation Award, is a glow-in-the-dark visually stunning adventure praised for its blend of puppetry, technology and dance about a famous scientist with magical powers who brings a friendly dinosaur to life. This is a great show for ALL ages.
Friday, Jan. 28, 2022: Pink Freud, Albuquerque’s premier Pink Floyd tribute band with a very fun light show, faithfully recreates such legendary songs as “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. II,” “Money,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Comfortably Numb,” just to name a few. Lead guitarist Chuck Hawley is the son of an NMT geologist; Chuck attended middle and high school in Socorro.
Saturday, Feb. 12: Big Band on the Rio Grande, brings to life the big band swing era of the 1930s and ’40s. Perhaps the most popular music in history, it was considered the American music and heard around the world. The members play because they love the music and enjoy playing both songs from the swing heyday as well as newer big band sounds. The group includes NMT alum Karl Tonander, who was the first NMT student sound guy that Kalish ever worked with. When Ronna called Karl to ask if they’d like to play, he replied “Performing at Macey Center is on my bucket list!” There will be plenty of space for dancing. The concert is preceded by an optional Valentine’s Dinner.
Friday, Feb. 25, 2022: Kalish always brings one group to play Celtic music, a favorite of many regular attendees. This year she has booked Eileen Ivers and band. Eileen Ivers is an original musician with Riverdance, a nine-time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion, Grammy Award-winner with numerous other accolades. She’s been called a “sensation” by Billboard magazine and “the Jimi Hendrix of the violin,” by The New York Times. “She electrifies the crowd with a dazzling show of virtuoso playing,” said The Irish Times.
March 25-26, is Women’s Fest, two days of music by Socorro and New Mexico musicians and informative talks and workshops offered, in collaboration with the university’s chapter of American Association of University Women (AAUW) and “hopefully with the participation of many other NMT and Socorro women,” Kalish said. Last year’s line-up of music included Lara Manzanares, Chloe Nixon, and the local teen duo of Kasey and Jenna. If you are interested in helping with this event, email [email protected]
Friday, April 8: Jungle Book, presented by State Street Ballet, returns with its dazzling adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic collection of stories. Water, Air, Earth and Fire, the four natural elements, intertwine to show the complexities of the jungle and the personalities of its creatures as they come alive through movement, music, and the dynamic storytelling of some of life’s greatest moral lessons. SSB’s productions are praised for their blend of “humor, drama, theatricality, and daringly athletic, visually stunning choreography.” There will also be a dance featuring Socorro dance students from Rising Stars Dance Studio.
Friday, April 29: Jarabe Mexicano, was scheduled to play last year but was canceled because of the pandemic. Jarabe Mexicano invites audiences on a joyride through a versatile songbook of Mexican folk as well as rock and roll, Tex-Mex, Latin rock, and reggae-cumbia. Performing on stringed folk instruments accompanied by lively percussion, Jarabe Mexicano features dramatic, harmonized vocals in Spanish and English.
In addition to these events, PAS will offer pre-show social hours featuring themed food, drinks and fun social and cultural activities; and Dana’s Paint Party Social Hours, offered on Zoom last year and hopefully online and in-person this year. These painting parties offer a fun way to connect with others, learn a skill and end up with a sure-to-be lovely art project. Supply packets are offered at $10 for community members and free to NMT students. Times and details will be announced.
And last, but certainly not least, New Mexico Tech President Dr. Stephen G. Wells’ Presidential Chamber Music Series. The concerts are free to all. The first one is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 30, and will feature the New Mexico Bach Society performing arias, duos, choral settings and keyboard music. Rahim Al Haj Trio, an Iraqui oud virtuoso, is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, and the Eric Sewell Piano Quintet, featuring works by Mahler, Beethoven, and Weinberg, is set for Friday, April 1.
All concerts in the regular series begin at 7:30 p.m. at NMT’s Macey Center. Concerts are $15 for adults, $12 for Seniors, 65 and over, and $5 for youth, 17 and under. Season subscribers are $12/$10/$2.50. All shows will be both live and live-streamed. The live streams, Kalish said, “will probably be free on Facebook and YouTube, but I am so hoping folks taking advantage of this option will donate online as they did so generously this season, which was really the only way PAS was able to keep bringing on the programming.”
To volunteer, a wonderful way to see the shows and give back to PAS, and/or for more information about the season, contact PAS at (575) 835-5688, visit nmt.edu/pas, or call (575) 835-5688.