This weekend, one of the most highly anticipated events in Taos is making its return. We are, of course, talking about the Mother's Day Music Festival in Kit Carson Park, now in its 16th year.
The free festival, compliments of LMNOC Broadcasting and the town of Taos, has become an annual tradition for many who gather to hear the best of New Mexican music, perhaps enjoy a picnic and, most of all, experience the fellowship of family and community.
Scott Quintanilla, director of promotions for LMNOC, promises a show featuring a mix of returning favorites and new additions. "We're really excited with the lineup we've put together showcasing both upcoming and established New Mexican and Latin bands. And keep in mind that all of them are coming and donating their time in celebration and appreciation of our moms."
Hard-driving classic and contemporary rock, traditional New Mexican and Tejano tunes and cumbia-tropical fusion dance await the audience, with performances featuring dazzling vocals, infectious tempos and searing, soulful ballads.
For the second time in as many years, the festival kicks off on Friday night (May 12) with a show featuring rock 'n' roll. Beginning at 5 p.m., New Mexican rockers No Parking, Stash, In The End and Hartless will take the stage, with a special appearance by Bones of Romeo closing out the evening.
At noon on Saturday (May 13), the stage comes alive with Candace Vargas and 505, Vero y Su Dulzura, Divino, Lluvia Negra, Smooth, Danny Duran and the Slow Burning Band, Carlos Medina, Ernestine Romero and Tierra, the award-winning East Los Angeles band.
Tierra earned the distinction of being the only Latin band to ever have three songs in one year on the Billboard 100 chart ("Together," "La La Means I Love You," "Memories"), with two of them appearing simultaneously. With the band's members known as champions of Latino talent, Tierra's inclusion in the festival is particularly exciting, said Quintanilla, "because [of] all their contributions to Latin music, which, of course, is the influence of many New Mexican musicians."
An after-party with Tierra is also planned Saturday (May 13), 7 p.m., at the Sagebrush Inn. Tickets are $25 (an error in the print edition of this story stated differently). Call (575) 758-2254 for more information.
Sunday's rousing showcase also begins at noon and features the highly anticipated return of both Mezcal and Grammy-nominated Micky Cruz. The schedule is rounded out by Severo y Grupo Fuego, Tanya Griego, Dwayne Ortega and Simpatico.
Sponsoring beverage vendors, including Premier Distributing, will be pouring Budweiser, Nuevo beer and Bloody Maria for Micheladas, while Jethro's BBQ, Ortega's Turkey Legs and Toribio's will serve up their mouth-watering, crowd-pleasing dishes.
Even though this is a free event, wristbands are required for entrance to the park on all three days and can be picked up at the following locations: in Taos, MetroPCS and The Gorge Bar & Grill; in Española, MetroPCS and Cook's Home Center; and, in Colorado, Chavez Southwest Market in Antonito and Oscar's Mexican Restaurant in Alamosa.
The Mother's Day Music Festival was founded by former Taos Mayor Darren Córdova, whose broadcasting company was acquired by the current owner, Chris Muñoz. The transfer of ownership included an appeal by Córdova that every effort be made to keep the festival alive, which Muñoz committed to do.
Quintanilla explained, "Chris understood from Darren that this event had become a major part of the community and how important it was to keep it going." Perhaps, the first year, Córdova himself couldn't have imagined that the festival would grow to draw crowds from well beyond Taos. But today, the anticipated 5,000 to 10,000 visitors that will descend upon Kit Carson Park are coming from across the state and across the West.
"Hotel rooms fill up, restaurants are packed and other music venues see some of their largest crowds," he noted. "So Taos benefits in many ways."
The challenges to LMNOC of perpetuating the event are truly prodigious and involve every staff member of the company's five radio stations.
"For months, the entire staff meets and brainstorms on ways to make this festival better than the last. We all really take on different roles in order for this event to happen. Our production manager, Bobby Warling -- aka 'Jalapeño' when he is our morning DJ on 105.5 Thunder -- is the keystone to the whole operation in finding and putting together all the bands, sound and production together for this event."
"Also key in promoting this event is our bilingual station, Radio Exitos KXMT 99.1, which has been instrumental in the success of [promoting] many New Mexican bands and getting the fans out."
Quintanilla noted yet another reason why the festival is attracting visitors from ever greater distances. "Chris invested in [broadcasting] apps that now give us worldwide listeners. People that have some type of tie to Taos have downloaded our apps and taken them to where they call home [or second home] and continue listening to our stations."
"From our analytics, we know we have people listening from around the world now. It's very exciting and our hope is to see this technology bring even more people to this event and all events here in Taos!"
The town's partnership with LMNOC provides the use of the park and its new stage and sound system. Many local businesses and sponsors donate generously to fund one of the most quintessential Taos weekends.
"From Chris and all the rest of us at LMNOC, we can't thank the town enough for their support and the other local people who make this possible," said Quintanilla.
So, he said, "Let's just keep our fingers crossed for good weather and just come out, enjoy the music, the food and the beverages."
Kit Carson Park is located at 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. The Sagebrush Inn and Suites is located at 1508 Paseo del Pueblo Sur. For more information, go to lmnocbroadcasting.com.