Great events around New Mexico in April.
SOUTH AFRICA BY SOUTHWEST
The Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir has sung with U2, Peter Gabriel, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder. Although the ensemble excels at soulful renditions of traditional African praise songs—and presents a colorful stage performance with elaborate costumes and dance routines—audiences will also be treated to more contemporary mainstream tunes, such as Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Singing in English and eight South African languages, this 52-member ensemble brings its uplifting repertoire to Popejoy Hall, in Albuquerque. (877) 664-8661; popejoypresents.com
SINGING OUR HISTORY
The Nuestra Música concert at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, in Santa Fe, continues the annual tradition of celebrating more than four centuries of New Mexico’s Hispano folk-music heritage. The event is curated by writer and “aural historian” Jack Loeffler, who founded Nuestra Música in 2001 with distinguished UNM professor emeritus of Spanish Enrique Lamadrid, his co-author of the 1999 book La Música de los Viejitos: Hispano Folk Music of the Río Grande del Norte. Participants performing at this year’s concert include Roberto Mondragón, Frank McCulloch y Sus Amigos, La Familia Vigil con Cipriano Vigil, and Trio Jalapeño con Antonia Apodaca. (505) 988-1234; ticketssantafe.org
CODE NAME: TRINITY
Once a year, the home of the first nuclear bomb test, at White Sands Missile Range, is opened up to the public. Built in the early 1940s, about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, the Trinity Site remains a popular destination for science and history buffs. There are only two ways to get to the Trinity Site Tour: by police-escorted caravan, which leaves from Tularosa High School, in Tularosa, and by unescorted vehicle through Stallion Range Center, about 17 miles east of San Antonio. “It’s a chance to stand on the spot of one of the most astonishing events in human history,” says WSMR spokeswoman Lisa Blevins. Visitors can also see the McDonald Ranch House, where the plutonium core of the bomb was assembled. No reservations. (575) 437-6120; alamogordo.com/trinity-site
CALLING ALL COMPOSERS
John Donald Robb served as dean of the University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts from 1942 to 1957 and founded the UNM Symphony. In his honor, the annual John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium (April 6–9) brings musicians from around the world to the South Broadway Cultural Center, on the UNM campus in Albuquerque. This year, the symposium presents Cuatro Corridos (cuatrocorridos.com), a chamber opera based on real events surrounding human trafficking. The April 7 multimedia one-woman show, starring Grammy Award–winning soprano Susan Narucki, features original music by composers Lei Liang, Hilda Paredes, Arlene Sierra, and Hebert Vázquez, with a libretto by famed Mexican author Jorge Volpi. (505) 277-8967; mynm.us/robbtrust
The Albuquerque Isotopes and the Tacoma Rainiers share some interesting history. In 1978—back when these Triple-A Pacific Coast League pro baseball teams were called the Albuquerque Dukes and the Tacoma Yankees—they were declared PCL co-champions, after a semifinal series between Tacoma and the Portland Beavers was dashed by nasty weather. The ’Topes, led by new manager Damon Berryhill, will host the Tacoma Rainiers for their opening home game at the 13,279-capacity Isotopes Park, in Albuquerque, kicking off an 11-game home schedule for the month. The club finished 76–68 last season, six games out of first place in their division. (505) 222-4058; mynm.us/isotopealb
APRIL 11–12, 24–26
POWWOWS HERE AND NOW
San Juan College’s 7th Annual Contest Powwow (April 11–12), in Farmington, celebrates the numerous Native American communities it serves. “This year, between 50 and 60 different tribes will participate in the powwow,” says Michele Peterson, director of the school’s Native American Center. “Besides the grand entry, we have dance-contest categories for adults, juniors, and teens, and this year we’ve added chicken dances.” Traditional Native foods and arts and crafts will also be available (505-566- 3321; sanjuancollege.edu). One of the world’s largest powwows, the Gathering of Nations Powwow, in Albuquerque (April 24–26), is now in its 31st year. The event takes over the Pit at UNM and showcases more than 3,000 dancers and singers from more than 500 tribes in the United States and Canada, culminating in the crowning of Miss Indian World. Three-time Juno Award–winning Inuit singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark will perform. Authentic Native foods and arts and crafts provide a memorable shopping experience in the gathering’s Indian Trader’s Market. (505) 836-2810; gatheringofnations.com
APRIL 12, 19, 26, 27, 30–MAY 4
12 Hours In the Wild West (April 12), which takes place at the Fort Stanton National Conservation Area, 20 minutes north of Ruidoso, marks the beginning of the endurance mountain-biking season. A trail expansion in 2013 means riders now have a total of 14.2 miles of diverse terrain to cover in this grueling 7 a.m.–7 p.m. loop-course competition (505-863-4228; mynm.us/twelvehours). In the southeastern part of the state, the marathon course for the New Mexico/Texas Marathon Challenge (April 19)—a Boston Marathon qualifier— stretches from the Lea County Museum, in Lovington, to New Mexico Junior College, in Hobbs (575-396-4805; nmtexchallengemarathon.com). The Rio Grande Retro Triathlon, in Albuquerque (April 26), the national season opener for the USA Triathlon Retro Tri Series, is a youth and adult event that combines swimming (400 yards), road cycling (10.22 miles), and running (3.1 miles). Race organizers encourage riders to wear quirky attire from the 1980s (505- 948-7971; mynm.us/rgtnm). The High Altitude Classic mountain-bike race, in Cloudcroft (April 27), takes riders through a patch of the beautiful Lincoln National Forest with 27-, 18-, and nine-mile races (575-649-8292; highaltitude. org). The Tour of the Gila (April 30–May 4) multi-stage race attracts more than 600 pro and amateur cyclists to Silver City every year. (575) 590-2612; tourofthegila.com
Tierra Wools, a retail store and studio in Los Ojos, in the far north-central region of the state, specializes in locally made yarns and dyes. Each spring, the weavers there—many of whom are descended from Spanish immigrants who settled in the upper Río Grande Valley as early as the 16th century—and other weavers and craftspeople gather for the Tierra Wools Spring Harvest Festival, which showcases their skills and fine products. “This is the one time each year when we open up the studio for free to the public, so they can witness firsthand the weaving traditions of Hispanic artisans,” says weaver-shopkeeper Heather Taylor-Chavez. The family-friendly festival includes sheep shearing, spinning, dyeing, and weaving demonstrations; music by local artists; door prizes; product discounts; and refreshments. (575) 588-7231; handweavers.com
Cruces Goes Country
Last year’s inaugural Las Cruces Country Music Festival was the largest country music festival the town had ever seen, and this year, festival organizers are dreaming bigger. Las Cruces native Bri Bagwell (pictured at left) returns home triumphant— she was Texas Regional Radio & Music Association 2013 Female Vocalist of the Year—to perform on Main Street. Cassadee Pope, winner of the third season of the popular vocal-talent TV show The Voice, and Casey James, a finalist in the ninth season of American Idol, will also perform. Rounding out the headliner list is multiple Grammy- and CMA Award–winning legend Charlie Daniels, who, at 76, shows no signs of slowing down.
On a second downtown stage, New Mexico–based acts will strut their stuff. Performers include Las Cruces’s own country rockers the Mother Tuckers, featuring the scorching vocals of Britt Tucker, and Las Cruces honky-tonk/classic-country-swing ensemble the Yarbrough Band. Music may be the centerpiece of the festival, but at nearby New Mexico State University, an intercollegiate rodeo runs all three days (aces.nmsu.edu/rodeo). On the final day of the festival, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum (nmfarmandranchmuseum.org) hosts a Country Breakfast, featuring a western-wear fashion show and acoustic performances by select festival artists.
“The festival really dovetails with the area’s strong music, ranching, and storytelling heritage,” says Regina Maxwell, a Las Cruces fiber artist who attended last year’s shindig. “And because it’s pretty much all outdoors, it feels like a real hometown event, even though it’s much bigger in scope.” (575) 541-2444; lccountryfest.com