Local music scene features the established, up-and-comers and sometimes a well-known surprise
By Rick Romancito
It’s not like we take them for granted, but when well-known musical artists settle in Taos and we get to know them, a familiarity sets in. They become our friends and neighbors.
While some folks – like Michael Martin Murphey and the late Lynn Anderson – might fill prestigious venues in big cities and garner huge adoring crowds, when they stop in for a song or two at a local Taos County venue, they are welcomed by locals who may have seen them recently at the grocery store or the post office. It’s just part of living here. And, from what we’ve heard, it’s one of the reasons famous people enjoy visiting or even living here. There are no paparazzi, no fawning fans stepping over each other for autographs, no TMZ hack crawling through the sagebrush for a gotcha moment. It’s just us.
For visitors, this may be unusual, but it makes for a singular experience when they stop in for a drink and find amazing talent like up-and-coming Americana star Max Gomez onstage or Mina Tank belting her heart out with The Damn Band after having wowed audiences on TV’s “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” or rockin’ out to internationally known, two-time Grammy Award-winning Native American artist Robert Mirabal performing an intimate concert at a local café or resort.
And you never know when an internationally known entertainer may unexpectedly appear and take the stage, such as when The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan grabbed a guitar and sat in front of a mic at the Taos Inn in February 2017.
Top that off with the fact that local venues like the KTAOS Solar Center, Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership and downtown Taos Tap Room, Old Martina’s Hall, The Alley Cantina and Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn offer regular first-class entertainment and you’re bound to have a good time almost any night of the week. And, if you are traveling north, roll into Red River and pony up to the Motherlode Saloon or the Bull O’ The Woods for some ultra-fine country-western music.
Several established artists got their start here, too. Singer-songwriters like Michael Hearne, Tish Hinojosa and Eliza Gilkyson entertained locals and visitors from the stage of the Sagebrush Inn Cantina, earning their chops before heading out for the big time.
New this winter season, Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership will be presenting a weekly series on Saturdays in conjunction with Taos Ski Valley (TSV) and Like A Boss Productions. The idea is to bring in even more quality bands from around the region and nationally touring bands on Saturdays during the ski season. The bands will play a “teaser” show at Taos Ski Valley from 3-4:30 p.m. and then play a headlining show at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership that night. The “teaser” show will be free and anyone purchasing a day pass to TSV on that day will get into the night show for free, too.
“It’s a way for all three entities [TSV, Taos Mesa Brewing and Like A Boss Productions] to work cooperatively to highlight the great entertainment a ski experience in Taos has to offer,” expressed Dan Irion, Taos Mesa Brewing managing partner and events booking manager.
Scott Gerdes contributed to this article.
Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos
The “living room of Taos” offers free, live music every night of the week, with a slew of national and regional touring acts coming through town to pay their dues. The Taos Inn is an intimate space where you might just catch the next big thing or a local favorite. For a complete schedule and more information, visit taosinn.com or call (844) 276-8598.
The Alley Cantina, 121 Teresina Lane, Taos
“The Alley,” as it is affectionately known by locals, is the place to get your rowdy on, with live music happening just about every night of the week featuring popular local and touring bands. Sunday’s Jazz Night with Christine Autumn is a great way to wind down the weekend, and regular performances by Ry Taylor and The Side Trips keep the venue’s rockin’ reputation alive and well. Visit alleycantina.com or call (575) 758-2121 for more information.
Black Mesa Winery – Taos Tasting Room, 241 Ledoux St., Taos, one block west of Taos Plaza
Besides producing award-winning wines, Black Mesa Winery – Taos Tasting Room hosts an open mic night every Tuesday, plus an impressive lineup of local musicians and singer-songwriters other nights of the week who cover genres from Americana to classic rock. Visit blackmesawinery.com or call (575) 758-1969 for more information.
Eske’s Brew Pub and Eatery, 106 Des Georges Lane, Taos, half a block southeast of Taos Plaza
If bluegrass and old-time string jams or Irish ditties are your calling, look no further than Eske’s. Bluegrass and string jams happen every Wednesday night. On every other Tuesday, listen to traditional Irish music. For a complete schedule and more information, go to eskesbrewpub.com or call (575) 758-1517.
KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, just north of El Prado
The KTAOS Solar Center is still one of the larger and best-sounding spaces in town. The A-frame tent construction makes the indoor venue one of the best places for getting down, especially when the Solar Center books an international reggae act or a New Mexican Spanish band. Every Thursday at KTAOS is Ladies Night with Katy P and the Business. Every Monday night is “Off the Cuff Live,” in which two local musicians, toe to toe, play songs from your favorite artists. Visit ktao.com or call (575) 758-5826 for more information.
The Martini Tree Bar, Taos Ski Valley
The hot spot for après-ski and music in Taos Ski Valley, just upstairs from Rhoda’s Restaurant. As of press time, the winter entertainment schedule had not been released. However, the popular watering hole is known for hosting free après-ski live music. Go to skitaos.com, martinitreebar.com or call (575) 776-2291, ext. 2285.
Old Martina’s Hall, 4140 State Road 68, Ranchos de Taos, across from San Francisco de Asís Church
Providing live music and dancing on the spacious oak floor from two-stepping to tango and everything in between, Old Martina’s Hall has been a popular venue in Taos for many years. The rich and colorful musical history includes classic acts like Taj Mahal, Abraxas and Ricky Nelson. Closed on Tuesday. For upcoming events, go to oldmartinashall.com or call (575) 758-3003.
Sabroso Restaurant and Bar, 470 State Road 150, Arroyo Seco
As the Taos Inn is the “living room of Taos,” Sabroso is “Seco’s living room,” complete with a piano bar housed in a historic 150-year-old adobe. Local favorite and “human jukebox” Jimmy Stadler
performs here every Wednesday; every Friday night, Laura Bulkin plays a variety of music from the 1920s and ’30s to the present; and on Saturday nights, high-energy keyboardist Bob Andrews (who played keyboards for Nick Lowe and Graham Parker, to name just a couple) wows the audience. For more information, visit sabrosotaos.com or call (575) 776-3333.
Taos Mesa Brewing, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west toward the Río Grande Gorge Bridge
The owners have worked hard to establish themselves as a premium live music venue in New Mexico. With local musician Dan Irion on board as one the owners at TMB, the Quonset hut building’s interior was designed with sound in mind, and the outdoor amphitheater is as unique as it is a fun place for a show. For a complete winter schedule and more information, visit taosmesabrewing.com or call (575) 758-1900.
— Compiled by Scott Gerdes