This week's Taos Plaza Live offers up three hours of local, live music, instead of the usual two. Singer-songwriter Jennifer Peterson takes the stage at 5:30 p.m. backed by the Andrews, Morel & Berry Band. Then, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., The Damn Band cuts loose.
Taos Plaza Live is a family-friendly, all-ages free concert series produced by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by local businesses. The series features local musicians in a variety of genres who play at the Taos Plaza on Thursday evenings throughout the summer.
After a two-year hiatus, Jennifer Peterson is back on stage performing her soulful blend of Americana, blues, pop and country. She said it feels "amazing."
"Right now I'm just playing a couple shows a month, easing back into things. It feels really good to be back. I feel whole again," Peterson said.
Reflecting on her time away from the stage, Peterson said, "it was an incredible two-year journey. In that time, I focused on my health. I met an amazing man with two daughters, and now I have an instant family. I'm a full-time mom and it has changed me in a really beautiful way. Singing with my daughters has deepened my relationship with music."
Peterson said she and her daughters have fun exploring music in a playful way. They like to make up family operas about mundane household activities or get their frustrations out through song, sometimes with comedic flavor.
"I think music is an incredible vehicle for connection - connection with yourself, connection with spirit and connection with other people. It brings it all together," Peterson said.
For her Taos Plaza Live show, Peterson said she'll be playing some of her own songs, and some covers by artists, such as Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams and Leonard Cohen. She'll also be singing Ella Fitzgerald songs with Bob Andrews for an Off the Cuff Live show July 16 at KTAOS Solar Center.
To book Peterson for a house concert or show, visit her website, jenniferpeterson.com.
Known as one of the liveliest party bands around, The Damn Band plays a blend of R&B, rock, blues, reggae, Latin and pop. For Taos Plaza Live they will be performing a mix of new originals and crowd-pleasing cover songs, such as The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" and The Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There."
The Damn Band is K Bolan (guitar), Peter Vigil (bass), Audra Rogers (vocals), Randy Morris (drums), Bob Andrews (keyboards) and Harlan Tafoya Kesson (percussion/rap vocals).
Bolan said the band functions like a family - one that gets along.
"It's amazing to me how when we get on stage any little bickering or differences in opinion just melt away, and you can literally look at everybody on stage and they're smiling," Bolan said. "It's almost like we just accept that's our safe place. I've never been in a band that has been like that."
Bolan said bassist Vigil functions as "the heartbeat of The Damn Band." He works for the Taos Soil and Water Conservation Department. "The rest of the time he is pushing the rest of us to get together and play," said Bolan.
Kesson started out as the soundman for the band, but now he's on stage, playing percussion and rapping. He works at The Coffee Spot.
Morris is a drummer for Last to Know and runs Gutiz Restaurant. Andrews is a full-time musician, performing solo or with other musicians at Taos venues, such as The Taos Inn, KTAOS and the Sabroso Restaurant and Bar.
Bolan started The Damn Band and "keeps it together." He has his own recording studio and owns several other businesses, including Wild Bill's Ski & Snowboard and Koffeehouse Restaurant.
Rogers is the newest member of the band and is a multi-instrumentalist who has been singing back up with The Damn Band for the last couple of years. She plays trumpet, guitar, banjo and sings.
Bolan said The Damn Band has been around for about 10 years in its current version. "We're excited about having some fresh blood with Harlan and Audra. We kind of look at it as the next chapter," he added.
The Damn Band is planning on getting into the studio soon to record some of its new original compositions. They will be playing some of them for their Taos Plaza Live show. They also were booked for the big Fourth of July show in Kit Carson Park with Baracutanga and The Family Stone.
"We're really excited to be sharing a stage with The Family Stone," Bolan said. "They're living icons that we all grew up with, so we're really, really excited. We feel honored that we got asked to do it."
The Damn Band is playing at the Alley Cantina Saturday (July 7) and again on July 21. The band is often booked for private gigs and can be contacted through its Facebook page or by calling Bolan at (575) 770-9360.