A new Taos music tradition may be starting this week. Dan Irion, co-owner of the new Taos Mesa Brewing Company isn’t absolutely certain, but he said he’s pretty sure the venue’s new bluegrass picking circle is the first of its kind in Taos County.
Pickers of all ability levels and instruments are encouraged to attend the first Bluegrass Picking Circle on Tuesday (Oct. 9) from 6-9 p.m. at Taos Mesa Brewing Company, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Admission is free.
“The idea of the circle is to bring local pickers together for fun and to hopefully inspire each other to greater musical heights,” said Irion, who will be co-hosting the evening along with Donna Longo.
As hosts, Irion and Longo will select from the vast repertoire of traditional bluegrass songs with easy chord progressions and prepare a playlist for the night. They will post the list on the venue’s website at www.taosmesabrewing.com, in order to encourage musicians to familiarize themselves with the songs before coming. Irion said because the songs are traditional, there are many recorded versions of each song that can be found, including YouTube videos.
The Bluegrass Picking Circle is not just for pickers, either. All of the songs have lyrics and some have several variations of lyrics. Singers are welcome to bring their favorite words for the songs to be played and sing along.
Irion elaborated, “Singers are welcome, whistlers are welcome, kazoo players — spoons, jugs, washboards. Hell, everyone who wants to make a musical sound is welcome.”
Inspired by similar circles in cities like Austin, Boulder, Nashville and Ashville, Irion hopes the concept will catch on in Taos.
“My hope is that this turns into a regular event, possibly every week, but for now it is going to be a once a month event,” Irion said.
He emphasized the circle is different than a concert, although participants will be sitting in chairs on stage, and people are invited to come and listen.
“Bluegrass is fun and compatible for pickers of all ability levels,” Irion said. “You can have a beginner playing their heart out next to an advanced picker who is also challenged to play their best, and it all occurs in the same song.”
It is this sense of camaraderie that comes with a shared musical experience, and the opportunity to pick up new skills, that Irion is hoping to develop.
Taos Mesa Brewing Company is one of Taos’ newest music venues. The brewery serves all New Mexican beers, including at least five regular drafts and additional rotating seasonal brews from its on-the-grounds brewery. The menu has everything from petite meals and appetizers to sandwiches, salads and kebabs. The brewery also serves wines produced under its own label.
Built by the hands of the founders, the venue is a specially designed large Quonset hut featuring recycled materials and one-of-a-kind aesthetic features such as a bar counter that integrates fossils, gears and other oddities into its surface. For more information, call (575) 758-1900.