TCA's Living Room Concert series invites an intimate experience

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The Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) launched its new Living Room Concerts series on Feb. 6 with rising folk, Americana star Kelly Hunt and violinist Stas Heaney. The sold-out concert, attended by 85 people, was a great success with the rapt audience filling the Encore Gallery, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, and listening carefully as Hunt and Heaney worked their musical magic.

The idea for the concert series came from Mary Domito, who has produced many music shows in Taos over the years. She has a knack for finding unusually talented artists and introducing them to a Taos audience. I caught up with Domito to find out more about this new concert series. Domito, who owns Sleep Sanctuary, Mattress Mary's Taos Lifestyle, Mountain Lifestyle and Alamosa Home, served on the TCA's board from 2008-2016. After a few years off, she returned to the board this past year.

I asked Domito why she serves on the TCA's board.

"I'm passionate about theater and music and having that in our town and offering super programming," Domito responded. "In the last few years I've been doing more music producing and promoting shows, so it seemed like I might have something to contribute in that department. So during my very first time back on board, I noted there's really no place in all of Taos where you can go to listen to music in a listening room environment, so when I asked if we could put the Encore Gallery to use for something like that, everyone lit up and thought it was a good idea."

Domito said the rest of the board suggested that the backstage of the auditorium could also be used as another listening room. In fact, the second act lined up for the series will be playing backstage. Lone Piñon performs on Feb. 29, at 7 p.m. Colette LaBouff, TCA's executive director, spoke with me about why she invited Lone Piñon.

"Their music has to do with New Mexico and with New Mexican and Mexican traditions, and also indigenous traditions of music," said LaBouff. "They're very involved in having learned from their elders how to play music forms and songs that are maybe not played as often anymore, and in danger of going away. For me, that's definitely a reason I'm excited about having them here at the TCA."

Domito said she will be the primary person finding talent for the Living Room Concert shows, and she is interested in national performers who are working as singer songwriters in any genre including folk, Americana and jazz.

"I enjoy finding people who I think are on the verge of becoming very well-known," Domito emphasized. "If I come across something, I send information to Colette and she and the rest of the board decide if they like it."

The next performance that Domito has lined up is with AJ Lee and Blue Summit, scheduled for April 16. Blue Summit won the 2019 FreshGrass Band competition, and placed second for the Winfield National Flatpicking Contest. AJ Lee is the winner of the Ally Tuttle and IBMA Momentum Vocalist Award.

LaBouff and Domito credit graphic designer Gina Azzari for coming up with the Living Room Concert name and logo. Azzari was also instrumental in designing the interior space of the Encore Gallery in preparation for the first Living Room Concert with Hunt and Heaney. The stage was set with a leather couch (donated by Mary Domito) and throw pillows, a rug and lighting, lending a homey feel to the Encore Gallery.

In addition to providing the spark for the concert series, and scouting for performers, Domito is helping to underwrite some of the concerts, said LaBouff. The Kachina Lodge and PPC Solar have also stepped forward to provide support. Domito emphasized that the TCA plans to keep these concerts affordable.

Summarizing her vision for the new concert series, LaBouff said, "My hope is that Living Room Concerts at the TCA opens up the Encore Gallery and backstage in new, vibrant ways and also brings more folks to see the exhibitions in the gallery. Activating space for the community with performances at affordable costs opens the possibility down the road, too, for local artists both in music and theater to perform there in a curated series."

Domito said the Living Room Concerts are not on a regular schedule, but will likely take place every month or every other month. To follow the TCA's Living Room Concerts, and to purchase tickets for upcoming shows, visit tcataos.org.

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