Why I Love Playing in Albuquerque

Alex McMahon (and Wildewood) loves playing in Albuquerque - Pyragraph

I love Albuquerque. Not because of “Breaking Bad,” the State Fair, or for Mary and Tito’s stuffed turnovers…. I mean, I love all those things, too, but what I love most about Albuquerque is the music scene. While people might complain that we’re in too small of a city, I can’t help but disagree. What matters here, and what I feel is our strong point, is our sense of community. Although we don’t have the hipster commune like some bigger cities, there is still a loyal and advocating group here that actually does care about local music. Strangely or appropriately enough, these people are the very musicians giving Albuquerque a scene.

Wildewood has been playing in Albuquerque the better part of three years.

In the beginning, we had our friends making up the audience wherever we played (usually stagnant, 3-hour restaurant gigs). Time went by and we slowly began making connections with other musicians playing out. Slowly those connections became lasting friendships. There were other bands cutting their teeth just like us, and we had a mutual respect that we were all ‘going for it.’

Better yet, though, were the established musicians who offered us not only their friendship, but their wisdom, guidance and horror stories. More and more, we’d get closer to these local bands. We’d follow them and catch as many of their shows as we could, and they’d start showing up at more and more of ours.

I can’t help but feel like the camaraderie here is an anomaly, something probably absent in bigger cities. The strangest thing, I think, is how genuine the camaraderie actually is. We aren’t putting on airs to keep up appearances. I really feel that there’s a mutual desire for Albuquerque to have a scene with strong, positive momentum. Local bands go out to see and support other local bands out of respect and admiration, without egos or jealousy. I love getting to chew the fat or talk gear with other local musicians after a show, as friends over a beer or two.

It might be necessary to take all of this with a grain of salt, though. I do live in the ‘Americana’ neighborhood, so I’m not sure if this type of abnormal behavior is normal in other genres.

These friendships have given me an actual social life now.

It’s not just about shows that I’m playing. Now my calendar’s also full with my friends’ shows, which lets me support them at the same time as venues we all rely on here. This is what makes Albuquerque the Goldilocks of music scenes, in my opinion.

I can drive around town listening to AJ Woods, The Saltine Ramblers, or Pawn Drive and I can catch them playing around town. More times than not I can even see them at a Wildewood show. It makes me happy to call Albuquerque home, along with a smothered turnover and the odd Walter White sighting.

Show poster by Richard Perce of Washington Street Press.

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