Mine Country Drifters

The Mine Country Drifters are among several bands that will highlight the NMTPAS virtual 4th of July concert next weekend. 

New Mexico Tech is moving forward with both the Fourth of July virtual concerts and fireworks display this year, albeit with a number of significant changes in place to comply with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s COVID-19 related executive orders.

The traditional selection of local live music acts will perform via streaming webcast. In order to ensure everyone can see the fireworks display while practicing proper social distancing in accordance with New Mexico’s COVID-19 guidelines, the fireworks display is taking place near the top of M Mountain.

This allows the Socorro community to see the fireworks from all over the valley. Please note: the golf course will not be available for spectators this year. The roads leading to the course will be restricted and patrolled. To be clear -- in order to protect the health and wellbeing of the Socorro community, NMT's main campus is closed for the fireworks display.

The annual Fourth of July outdoor celebration at Macey Center has been canceled, but a full spectrum of music will stream online.

“We have had to make some significant adjustments this year,” Performing Arts Series presenter Ronna Kalish said. “But we will still have great local music available online. And everyone in Socorro can enjoy our spectacular fireworks show from the comfort of their backyards.”

Music lovers didn’t have to wait until July 4 to get a taste of what’s in store. The Performing Arts Series started live-streamed concerts from Macey Center Sunday, May 31; they will continue to be shown on the Performing Arts Series Facebook page (“NMTPAS”) and on YouTube (“NMT Performing Arts Series” channel).

“This is something I am really excited about,” Kalish said. The concerts were made possible through special funding from New Mexico Arts, a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts, to support performances around NM by in-state artists.

With the help of the Macey Center crew and New Mexico Tech Distance Education, local musicians are presenting concerts on the Macey Center stage. Using those professional lights and sound, the concerts are being live-streamed and also recorded to form "Socorro's Social Distance July 4th Celebration Concert," with all your local favorites. Expect some fun and heartfelt Fourth of July messages sprinkled throughout the day and eve from local luminaries and PAS sponsors.

The Socorro Sessions Social Distance Concert Series has featured all Socorro bands, with an extensive variety of songs and genres. They are:

Roon with PAS’s director/presenter Ronna Kalish on keyboard, harmonica and vocals; with well-known virtuosos John E. Dean, guitar and bass, and Jim Ruff, mandolin and bass. John E. has hosted open mics and happy hours at The Capitol Bar; Jim plays in numerous bands and has taken on hosting the open mic sessions online since March. They play originals and folk rock covers.

The Murillos are an extended family group playing a variety of New Mexico Spanish songs, famous country and blues selections and classic rock. Members include Tori, Richard, George, Patrick and Matthew; drummer Jon Licha is adopted family, they say. Current band members are multi-generational and many in the community remember a variety of other Murillo-formed groups which have played throughout the valley over the years.

Doug Figgs is Socorro’s own working cowboy poet who has pulled in adopted New Mexican musician Mariam Funke and a good friend Clifton Murray to form the Doug Figgs Trio. Although Doug has won numerous awards for his music, he just shrugs it off and calls himself a horseshoer. Along with earning a living, he live-streams songs through his Facebook page and co-hosts an internet radio cowboy/Western music show on Riovalleyradio.

Rob Lopez and the Infidels. Many a youngster wants to drive the BIG trucks when they grow up and Rob says he has gotten to live his childhood dream. The music he plays is much like the heavy equipment he drove. It’s hard-driving rock that inspires Rob and cohorts Pete Goering and Jose Salcido; and it’s easy to see they enjoy playing standards and originals.

Mine Country Drifters plays Roots/Americana and is a uniquely Socorro band: All four members are associated with New Mexico Tech and connected through Tech’s music program. Hilary Kelly, with her rich and resonant vocals; Wes McHaley, nimble mandolin and fiddler; Dave Thomas’ bass extraordinaire (ala NMT’s famous alumni band, The Vigilantes), and Steve Simpson, guitar, vocals and folk music repertoire.

Completing the lineup is Suavecito, a perennial favorite playing Spanish and variety. Like the Murillos, Suavecito is an extended family group of musicians whose roots extend back generations in the community. Some of the members gained experience elsewhere and all bring their love of music and family together in a winning synergy. Suavecito has “closed” for Al Hurricane and Al Hurricane Jr., Darren Cordova and Tobias Rene as well as headlining the New Mexico Tech Fourth of July Celebration. Last year they performed for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s inaugural ball in Santa Fe.

All six band performances will be rebroadcast online July 4th on Facebook and YouTube going “live” at noon and running until the fireworks. Plan to bring out your best barbeque with all the fixings, hook your computer up to the speakers and blast the local music all day and night until fireworks burst into the Socorro sky over “M” Mountain, all in the comfort of your own home ala Covid-19.

Let’s shout out a huge thanks to our service people, healthcare and essential workers for putting themselves on the front lines for all of us, to ourselves for social distancing to keep our friends, families and neighbors safe, and celebrate the independence of a free United States that continues, still, to work towards the vision of equality and justice for all.