Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Memories of Paolo Soleri Amphitheater

The first time I went there was for my high school baccalaureate service in 1971. I was a amazed by the architecture. It seemed like a theater The Flintstones would frequent.

I first met Roger Miller there, backstage after a Michael Martin Murphey concert in the summer of 1980. Murphey had called Roger out on stage to do a couple of songs. Roger was barely able to strum one chord before the rain started pouring down and the show had to be called off.

That's where I interviewed B.B. King. Several others too, but I remember B.B. most of all because he was, and still is, the nicest "big star" I've ever interviewed.

That's where Frank Zappa dedicated an entire show to Paul Bardake, who at the time was attorney general of New Mexico. I called Bardake the next day and learned that his dad was Zappa's high school English teacher -- one of the few teachers Zappa actually got along with.

That's where I was stiffed for an interview with the late reggae star Peter Tosh after waiting several hours there one afternoon in the summer of 1981. (I finally had to leave because I'd booked studio time in Albuquerque. I was in the middle of recording Picnic Time for Potatoheads.)

I've seen a lot of great music there: Santana, Elvis Costello, Robert Cray, John Prine, David Bromberg, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Byrne, several Native Roots & Rhythms shows. I haven't been there in a couple of years, but last summer I dropped off my son there to see Atmosphere.

And now they're going to tear it down.

A news release from Santa Fe Indian School (that I've only seen on Facebook, thanks, Rima!) says:

"The decision was not made lightly," said Everett Chavez, SFIS superintendent. "Thousands of people have been a part of the Paolo Soleri’s history, but unfortunately we cannot support it any longer."

Chavez cited safety and annual maintenance costs as the primary reasons for closing the amphitheatre housed on the SFIS campus. The SFIS utilizes the amphitheatre only twice a year to host its annual 8th grade promotion and 12th grade senior graduation events. It is used less frequently for other entertainment events primarily because of competition from other concert venues and local casinos. He also called elements that go along with some Paolo Soleri events "unsavory" and not in keeping with the school’s mission as an educational institution."

All I can say is that it's a goddamn shame.

A goddamn shame.

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