Neal Copperman, the longtime promoter behind AMP Concerts, is excited about recent changes in our community—namely the reworking of the statewide Red-to-Green COVID designations, which now allow for certain indoor and outdoor entertainment events. "It really feels like things are opening up, and we are slowly starting to be able to gather again," says Copperman.
Although venue capacities remain limited, mask mandates are still in place and dancing is (for the time being) prohibited, there is a ray of hope for those eager to get back to hearing live music. "We will be rolling out many AMP programs in the next few weeks," promises Copperman, who founded AMP back in 2004. "First up is an Emerging from the Pandemic concert series at Casa Flamenca in Albuquerque. Next week we will announce a schedule for free outdoor movies every Friday in June at the Santa Fe Railyard, as well as our first run of shows at HIPICO again."
After a year of closed venues, cancelled events and the occasional "virtual" concert streaming over the internet, Copperman is eager to get AMP Concerts back to speed. Speaking about the first set of shows lined up, the promoter recalls, "I sat down to brainstorm with Valeria Montes at Casa Flamenca on Thursday and was inspired to create an Emerging from the Pandemic Concert Series. Within three days, we pulled together five weeks of Friday and Saturday concerts featuring an exciting mix of Albuquerque musicians." Those concerts kick off on Friday, May 14 at Casa Flamenca near Old Town.
"The idea came out of just seeing our space empty for months," says Montes. "It's been depressing for the arts, this whole situation. As an artistic director is nothing worse than having an empty space."
Last fall, with COVID keeping its doors shut, Casa Flamenca made a significant investment to completely overhaul the property to allow for outdoor performances. This was, of course, a real challenge for a small nonprofit struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. "They didn’t do this halfway either," says Copperman. "They built a beautiful stage and have really made an amazing space. We estimate it can hold 120 to 150 people at full capacity. With the new guidelines allowing three-foot separation between groups outside, we are going to allow 80 people to attend these concerts. These shows will help introduce the new space to the community and be something of a fundraiser for Casa Flamenca to help cover construction costs."
The kickoff concert for AMP's "Emerging From the Pandemic" series features socially conscious reggae band Reviva. The next night, on Saturday, May 15, Jackie Zamora (of local faves Baracutanga and Calle 66) has put together a great lineup of players from the NM Jazz Latino Orchestra, including Count Basie Orchestra tenor sax player Doug Lawrence. The diverse lineup of concerts continues at Casa Flamenca's new outdoor stage for the next month, culminating on June 12 with a "blowout weekend" featuring Casa Flamenca’s guitar powerhouse Juani de la Isla and the popular soul/funk/R&B combo ChillHouse fronted by beloved Burque singer Hillary Smith. For a complete lineup of shows, go to ampconcerts.org.
AMP Concerts Presents Emerging From the Pandemic
May 14 & 15, May 21 & 22, May 28 & 29: June 4 & 5: June 11 & 12; All concerts start at 7:30pm.
410 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Tickets are $20 (including all service charges) and will be available at ampconcerts.org or from Hold My Ticket at 505-886-1251.
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