As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
(Devout readers of this blog will recognize this column had its roots in here.)
I thought I was on vacation last week in Austin attending the South by Southwest Music Festival. But last Thursday morning, while walking around the SXSW trade show, I learned that even in Texas, the eyes of Bill Richardson are upon you.
One of the first booths I stumbled upon at the trade show -- right there among others hawking guitar strings, record labels, music software and rock 'n' roll magazines -- was one manned by Jon Hendry and Mike Stauffer from the New Mexico Tourism Department. And on a colorful cardboard poster behind them was the smiling face of the omnipresent governor.
Hendry and Stauffer were in the Live Music Capital of the World extolling the virtues of the Land of Enchantment's musical attractions. They also attended the SXSW film and interactive-media festivals, which preceded the music shindig.
"All our new surveys show an increased interest by visitors in new experiences, including music and food," Hendry said Wednesday. A recent Tourism Department focus group in New York showed potential visitors are interested in what New Mexico has to offer in terms of night life, Hendry said.
"We passed out a lot of tourist guides and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival posters," Hendry said of SXSW.
Also, the two were giving out a poster titled "New Mexico Musical Enchantment," featuring a Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band-like collage with the Roundhouse in the background and the state seal on a bass drum in the center of a whole gaggle of musicians and other famous folks with some connection to the state.
Among them are John Denver (he was born in Alamogordo), Glen Campbell (he played in an Albuquerque country band with his uncle Dick Bills), Michael Martin Murphey, Randy Travis, Roy Rogers, María Benítez, the Manzanares Brothers, Eliza Gilkyson, Paris Hilton (her grandfather Conrad was born in San Antonio, N.M.), former Sen. Harrison Schmitt in full astronaut regalia and -- you guessed it -- Bill Richardson, in a Cab Calloway-type white jacket.
What? No Buddy Holly, who recorded his greatest work in Clovis in the 1950s?
No Jim Morrison, who lived in Albuquerque as a child and who, according to his own legend, was possessed by the spirit of an Indian road-construction worker who died in a car wreck north of the Duke City?
No Roger Miller or Al Hurricane or Robert Mirabal or Terry Allen?
This poster, Hendry said, is a "work in progress." He said New Mexico musicians are welcome to send in head shots to be included on its next version.
Hendry has other ideas for promoting New Mexico music.
He wants to set up a program in which musicians from the state can have Web sites on the Tourism Department's site. There, he said, musicians could promote themselves and sell their music.
He wants to start an Internet database where event organizers in the state could find musical entertainment appropriate for their events.
He also said he wants to work with the city of Santa Fe to start concerts on the Plaza every night during the summer.
As for the South by Southwest Music Festival, Hendry said next year he'd like for the state to host a New Mexico Night in one of the area's downtown bars during the festival, which includes several themed showcases such as Japan Night or Australia Night.
He also said he'd like to produce a compact disc of original music by New Mexican artists that the Tourism Department could hand out at events such as SXSW.
Interested musicians should e-mail Hendry at firstname.lastname@example.org
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