Taos celebrates a summer of music

From major headliners to everything in between, Taos has it all


Music has become synonymous with summer and fun in Taos. We know, that sounds like a tired cliché, but even if you look back to the Wild West days on the Plaza, there were fandangos, fiestas and more fun than you could shake a Doña Tules feather boa at.

And, since those days, every community occasion from sacred to secular has been accompanied by song. That brings us to today and the amazing summer lineup of new, traditional, classical, native and foreign tunes right around the corner. Want to know what’s happening? Take a look …

Mother’s Day Music Festival

LMNOC Broadcasting, in partnership with the town of Taos, will present the 16th annual Mother’s Day Weekend Festival, according to marketing consultant Scott Quintanilla. This free event takes place in Kit Carson Park, 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

This year, the festival will feature 20 bands. “This is a special event which highlights New Mexico and Latin music with 19 out of the 20 bands being from New Mexico,” Quintanilla states. “The one band and special guest that is not from New Mexico is the award-winning Latin band from East Los Angeles, Tierra. This is the only Latin band to have had three songs in one year on the Billboard 100 and two simultaneously.”

This year’s event also marks the return of Mezcal, a Northern New Mexico favorite. This is only the second year that this is planned as a three-day event.

Friday night is a night of rock and roll with No Parking, Stash, In The End, Hartless and Bones Of Romeo.

Saturday’s entertainers are Tierra, Candae Vargas and 505, Vero y Su Dulzura, Divino, Lluvia Negra, Smooth, Danny Duran and the Slow Buring, Carlos Medina and Ernestine Romero.

Sunday features Mezcal, Mickey Cruz, Severo y Grupo Fuego, Tanya Griego, Dwayne Ortega and Simpatico.

“This event was started by [a] famous New Mexican singer-songwriter and former Taos mayor, Darren Córdova, 16 years ago. When Córdova sold DMC Broadcasting to Chris Muñoz, who changed the name to LMNOC Broadcasting, he asked if he would try to keep this tradition alive for New Mexican artists. Mr. Muñoz has graciously done so,” Quintanilla states.

More Mother’s Day Weekend treats

The aforementioned former mayor and his band, Darren Córdova y Calor, will be performing at a Mother’s Day Dance Saturday night (May 13) at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado. the show, which starts at 8 p.m., is slated to feature performances by family members Darren Lee, Daniel Córdova and Dynette Marie. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 in advance. They are available at Taos Pro Music and Audio, 125 Camino de la Merced or by calling (575) 758-3116; also at KTAO by calling (575) 758-5826 or at Grupo Mezcal are also planning an additional show that weekend. The band is set to perform Saturday night (May 13), 9 p.m., at Old Martina’s Hall at 4149 State Road 68 in Ranchos de Taos. Cover is $10. For more, call the venue at (575) 758-3003.

Ozomatli for free

Mitch Miller, facilities and special events director for the town of Taos, announced that he has booked Latin rock sensation Ozomatli for a big Fourth of July party in Kit Carson Park. Admission is free to the show. He said the band’s appearance is part of an Independence Day celebration featuring music, a barbecue and more.

Ozomatli — which has appeared locally during the now-defunct Taos Mountain Music Festival in Taos Ski Valley in 2009 and 2011 — is a six-piece band playing primarily Latin, hip-hop and rock music, formed in 1995 in Los Angeles, California. Members of the band are known both for their vocal activist viewpoints and their wide array of musical styles, including salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, rap and others. Miller said he is working hard to bring additional music acts to Taos.

Dwight Yoakam in the park

One of the acts Miller has been successful at booking is country music superstar Dwight Yoakam and The Mavericks. Both are set to perform July 29, 7 p.m., at Kit Carson Park in Taos.

According to press materials on the AMP Concerts website (, Yoakam “has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, and he is a 21-time nominated, multiple GRAMMY Award winner. He has 12 gold albums and nine platinum or multi-platinum albums, with five of those albums topping Billboard’s Country Albums chart, and another 14 landing in the Top 10.

“Nearly 40 of Yoakam’s singles have charted, with 14 peaking in the Top 10. He received the Artist of the Year award at the 2013 Americana Music Honors & Awards ceremony, the most prestigious award offered by the organization.”

Last September, Yoakam released his first bluegrass album, titled “Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…” on Sugar Hill Records. The record features a band of “bluegrass luminaries” performing “a collection of reinterpreted favorites from his catalogue, as well as a cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain.’”

This album “reflects the love for bluegrass music that Yoakam developed at an early age in Kentucky, and that has inspired him for many years thereafter.”

In addition to his musical career, Yoakam has also shaped a formidable film and television acting career, having shared the screen with the likes of Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker and Matthew McConaughey.

Of his band that will join him in Taos, the press materials describe The Mavericks as “one of the great and most unique American bands. … Formed in Miami, Florida in the late 1980s, [the band eventually moved] to Nashville … launching what would be an incredible career that featured hits, sold out tours and the creation of a large and loyal fan base. The Mavericks created a one-of-a-kind sound that seamlessly blended elements of rock, Latino, folk, blues, country and more. Following a nine-year hiatus, The Mavericks re-formed in 2012, going on to release two more highly acclaimed studio albums and toured relentlessly bringing their exhilarating live shows to longtime fans and new generations worldwide.”

Town of Taos Facilities and Special Events Director Mitch Miller said the event may continue into July 30, but nothing is set just yet. 

Tickets to the July 29 Dwight Yoakam show in Taos show are now sale. Prices are $52 for adults, $9 for youth under age 12 (includes all service charges). The tickets are available at or by calling (505) 886-1251 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Also, Miller has confirmed that Taos favorite Michael Franti has been booked to play on San Geronimo Day, Sept. 30, in Kit Carson Park. More details to come, of course.

Taos Plaza Live

The summer music scene in Taos wouldn’t be complete with out the free weekly event locals love to attend right in the middle of town. We’re talking about Taos Plaza Live.

The music series is set to begin May 25 and continue through the end of August. Each Thursday evening from 6-8 p.m., locals and visitors will have a chance to hear and dance to music by some of the most popular performers in the region. So, get out your favorite lawn chair and make sure you got your daning shoes on because this one music series not to be missed.

The series starts off on May 25 with the Jimmy Stadler Band performing from 6-8 p.m. It continues June 1 with the Uz Band and Chris Arellano y Nuevo Americana, June 8 with Sol Connection and The Neighbors, June 15 with Liz Painter & The Gallery and Bones of Romeo, June 22 with the Dwayne Ortega Band, June 29 with Out of Nowhere and the John Carey Band, July 6 with Isaac Aragon, July 13 with Last to Know, July 27 with Sugar Still and Chicken Sedan, Aug. 8 with The Damn Band, Aug. 10 with the Averill Lovely Band and Bone Orchard, Aug. 17 with Katy P & The Business, and Aug. 24 with Take Two and Pete Martínez y Suave. The series winds up on Aug. 31 with Big Swing Theory.

Taos Plaza Live is a presentation of the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by local businesses, individuals and organizations. For more information, call (575) 751-8800 or visit

Music on the Mesa

It’s not happening until the first weekend in June, but the upcoming Music on the Mesa Festival is already creating quite a buzz throughout the New Mexico-Colorado-Texas area, as we reported April 17. This being the third year for the Americana-themed event, founder-director Stephen Plyler says the festival has been an exercise in raising the bar each time out of the gate.

One of the most common questions asked of the DeSoto, Texas-born entrepreneur is, “Which headliner should we be watching for?” The thing is, Plyler said there are so many great acts, “We’re almost doing double headliners every night.” For instance, on the night when Railroad Earth is playing, event organizers will bring out The Cheese Dusters, a mashup band made up of members of the Infamous Stringdusters and String Cheese Incident. “We have Robert Randolph and the Family Band on Saturday, with Rising Appalachia right before them,” Plyler said. “Every [evening is] just headliner next to headliner, which is new. It should be exciting for everybody.”

The third annual Music on the Mesa Festival will take place the weekend of June 2-4 at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west.

Music on the Mesa, affectionately known as “MOM,” is the “coolest, grooviest festival in the world,” Plyler likes to say in the event’s publicity. “Located in a one-of-a-kind location just minutes from the Río Grande Gorge, the brewery offers a comfortable atmosphere with jaw-dropping views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This location, paired with top-notch bands, draws the perfect symmetry between music and nature.”

This year, the base-Americana offerings are expanded to include bluegrass, funk, soul and even blues — true American music, a press release gushes.

The outdoor festival will feature nonstop music from artists such as Elephant Revival, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Railroad Earth, as well as the Drew Emmitt Band (of Leftover Salmon fame), Rising Appalachia and The Cheese Dusters. In addition, many other well-known bands, both national and local, will round out the festival. Other artists scheduled to appear include James McMurtry, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, The Greyhounds, Grace Askew, Alice Wallace, Chris Arellano and more.

Started in 2015 by Stephen Plyler of Walking Rain Productions and working with Dan Irion, CEO of Taos Mesa Brewing, “The idea was to bring three days of terrific Americana music to the Taos area.” Plyler said in a prepared statement he was convinced a festival of this type of music “would be not only be a terrific draw for local music lovers, but would also give visitors a chance to experience the ‘magic’ of Taos during a multi-day festival. This year, Like A Boss Productions has joined forces to help expand the lineup. The response has been terrific.”

In addition to the festival, “Music lovers are encouraged to spend several days in the area to explore the rafting, ballooning, hiking and, in short, the whole Taos experience. In addition to the great hotels, B&Bs, private homes and condos for rent in the Taos area, there will be tent and RV camping available on-site. In addition, El Mystico, a nomadic hotel and campground, will be open in time for the festival.”

For ticket information and more information about the festival and camping, visit and “Music on the Mesa” on Facebook.

Classical music

In the early 1960s in the mountain community of Taos, a group of musicians gathered to play chamber music, a passion of theirs. This meeting resulted in the formation of the now-prestigious Taos School of Music, whose Summer Chamber Music festival has become a jewel of Northern New Mexico and the world.

“Chilton Anderson, one of the founders and executive director, never imagined the school would be one of the leading chamber music institutions in the country,” a press release states. “He certainly never anticipated the organization would flourish for over half a century. His passion was the school and assisting young musicians who were embarking on their musical careers.”

Ten years ago, Kathleen Anderson took over for her father as executive director and has continued the mission he believed so strongly in. “Spending time with these students and getting to know them on a personal level is one of the highlights of my year,” she states. “It is difficult to adequately describe the warmth and camaraderie that develops in the charming Hotel St. Bernard in the idyllic setting of Taos Ski Valley, their home for the summer.”

Each summer between mid-June and early August, Taos School of Music presents 16 public events at two venues. Performances are at the Hotel St. Bernard in Taos Ski Valley and Taos Community Auditorium in downtown Taos. For a full schedule and tickets, visit

The Taos Chamber Music Group is amid its “24th Season Concert Series,” which continues through May.

Recognized for creative programming and first-class artistry, the Taos Chamber Music Group’s 24th concert series of “wild and scenic” music continues to be informed by the unique flavor of its home in Taos. Programs include a signature mix of chamber music masterpieces, more contemporary works and multidisciplinary collaborations at the Harwood Museum of Art. Visit for more infomation.

Music from Angel Fire celebrates its 34th Summer Music Festival from Aug. 18 through Sept. 3 — classical music performed by world-class artists in the New Mexico mountain communities of Angel Fire, Taos, Ratón and Las Vegas under the artistic direction of Ida Kavafian, a press release states. This year, the MFAF Summer Festival’s theme is “Around the World,” featuring concerts that revolve around individual countries of significance in the history of chamber music.

“The music spans four centuries and will take us from Europe to Russia and to the Americas,” the release states. “Culture is one of the most defining attributes of a society and its greatest export. Music has no borders. In over 20 concerts and festival events internationally renowned artists will bring the world to audiences. Additionally, Imani Winds will return for the first week and the Curtis Institute’s Brass Project will be back by popular demand. The Brass Project will perform free concerts at Frontier Park in Angel Fire on Aug. 18 and on Taos Plaza Aug. 19 in addition to Festival concert performances.”

Tickets go on sale July 1. Call the box office at (575) 377-3233 or visit the website at

Taos Opera Institute was established by Mary Jane Johnson and Linda Poetschke in 2007 as a four-week, intensive program designed to bridge the gap between academia and apprenticeships for the emerging young vocal artist. Its philosophy focuses on integrating and improving vocal artists’ technique, physical well being and artistry. Singers participate in interactive sessions with distinguished guests and professional artists, focusing on competition psychology, performance anxiety, audition strategies, stage deportment, dramatic interpretation and vocal stability. Singers leave TOI with a complete audition package, confidently preparing them for the next level of their career development. Free concerts at various locations in Taos begin June 9. For more information, visit

Jazz Bebop Society presentations

In June, the Taos Jazz Bebop Society will be celebrating the deep heritage of this musical style with local poetry and music enthusiasts. It starts off with Greg Abate and Richie Cole "Celebrating Phil Woods" June 3, 7:30 p.m., at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux Street. The show is presented by Taos Jazz Bebop Society in collaboration with the Harwood.

“In the summer of 2014, Greg Abate and Phil Woods recorded "Kindred Spirits: Live at Chans" in Woonsocket, RI. A few months later, Mr. Woods passed away, just before the CD was released. Eighty two and on oxygen at the time of the recording, Woods was still one of the finest saxophone masters on the planet, and Greg and his trio really rose to the occasion,” a press release states. “On June 3rd, Abate will bring to the Harwood all the passion of that session, in celebration of the the master. To stoke it up even more, he has invited alto sax firebrand Richie Cole to join him. Both Cole and Abate have recorded with Woods, and been deeply inspired and influenced by him.”

Then, July 13-14, the Society presents The Dexter Gordon Project, as part of the New Mexico Jazz Festival. It starts out with a screening of the film “Round Midnight,” featuring Dexter Gordon on July 13 at the Taos Community Auditorium. This is the 30th anniversary of the film's release, and Gordon’s widow, Maxine Gordon, will be hosting the film event with a Q&A afterwards Then, the next day, at the Harwood Museum, the Society offers “A Tribute to Dexter Gordon,” featuring the Jimmy Cobb Trio with Special Guest Doug Lawrence, and Tadataka Unno, John Webber and Jimmy Cobb. Tickets at

Saxophonist Dexter Gordon was a towering figure in 20th century jazz… widely regarded as the first musician to translate the language of mid-20th century modern jazz - a.k.a. "bebop" - to the tenor saxophone. Possessor of his own distinctive sound, Dexter was known for his heavy doses of swing. He was also incredibly handsome! (iconic photo of Dexter enclosed)

Cultural traditions

Two of the favorite local traditions celebrate our deep Hispanic and Native American heritage. Both happen in July.

The Taos Pueblo Powwow takes place July 7-9 at the powwow grounds, located at the end of Ben Meyers Road in El Prado. “A pow wow is a gathering of Indian Nations in a common circle of friendship,” Richard Archuleta, powwow committee co-founder, says on the event website ( “Indian Country is made up of many tribal nations, bands, villages, and pueblos, each with their own traditional tribal beliefs and practices. A pow wow is the common fiber which draws Indian people together. It is a time for sharing with old friends and making new friends; a time for singing and dancing. It is a time for trading; trading craft goods and trading songs.”

The event usually begins with a “Grand Entry” of the dancers. All participants dance into the circle in their respective categories, led into the arena by a tribal elder or veteran carrying a staff of eagle feathers. The eagle feather staff is the universal symbol and “flag” of Indian people throughout North America. When all dancers are in the circle in their respective categories, a flag song or the national anthem of the Indian people is sung, followed by an invocation by a tribal elder. Then the dance begins with intertribal dancing. This is a time when all dancers, competing or not, can “strut their stuff,” displaying their best dancing abilities.

The annual Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana take place this year on July 21-23 on Taos Plaza and a few other locations in town. This year’s theme is “God, Family, Friends and Community” and subtitled “Honoring our Culture, Traditions and all Things Taos for Generations.” The event features a reverence for the Catholic saints for which it is named and includes three days of music, foods, parades and celebration.

Big Barn Dance

Americana music master Michael Hearne returns to his old stomping grounds for the Big Barn Dance Music Festival he started many moons ago – literally in a local barn. Nowadays, big-name country music names chomp at the chance to perform together in Kit Carson Park.

Celebrating it's 15th year, the Big Barn Dance Music Festival boasts a lineup of the best artists in Americana, folk, bluegrass, singer-songwriters and everything in between. Scheduled for Sept. 7-9, the festival will include two dance floors for music lovers and two-steppers, according to a press release.

Over the past 15 years, the Big Barn Dance stage has hosted both legendary songwriters and young up-and-comers. In keeping with the tradition of presenting world-class music, the 2017 lineup will feature:

• Michael Hearne & South by Southwest - Dale Watson

• Red River Songwriters: Walt Wilkins, Kelley Mickwee,

• Susan Gibson, Brandy Zdan, Drew Kennedy & Josh Grider

• John Fullbright - Chris Brashear, Peter McLaughlin & Todd Phillips

• Eliza Gilkyson - Lari White - Bill Kirchen - Jimmy Stadler

• Trout Fishing in America - High Plains Jamboree

• Terri Hendrix & Lloyd Maines - Terry Allen - Bob Livingston

• Jed Zimmerman - Rex Foster - Tommy Elskes - The Rifters

• Shake Russell - The Bill Hearne Trio - Halden Wofford and the Hi Beams

• Dana Louise & the Glorious Birds - hONEy hoUSe — and more to be announced.

Festival tickets are on sale now at Purchase three-day passes before August 1st for an early-bird discount. For details visit

By now, you’re wondering, “Is there more?” You bet. Each week, Taos features some of the best musical talent in the Southwest. To find out where it’s all happening, check out Tempo magazine each week in The Taos News.