Night Market & entertainment schedule
By Devon Jackson
A NIGHT MARKET AND LIVE MUSIC. To some folks, these firsts for the International Folk Art Market might seem long overdue. But it also makes sense that they come on the heels of more than two years of effects, aftereffects and lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic: lockdowns, superspreaders, anxiety and a burgeoning desire to put all the life that’s possible back into live events. After all, IFAM began, in 2004, as a celebration — a chance for artists from all over the world to put their talents on display and up for sale.
Unlike art fairs that embody the apotheosis of art and commerce (capitalism at its most artistic or art at its most capitalistic), IFAM is more of a UN for artists. They seek exposure, validation and economic support and have a refreshing desire to share their jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, rugs, basketry, painting, metalwork and textiles with market visitors.
IFAM is also cross-culturalism at its best. That’s why the event has been such a success, since its inception showcasing more than 1,000 artists from more than 100 countries, earning more than $30 million for its artists and affecting the lives of more than 1 million people in those artists’ home communities.
The Night Market and the live music have been in the works since 2020, and the timing couldn’t be better. “In 2020 we put together some focus groups, seeking out feedback from the IFAM community,” said Adrienne Murray, IFAM’s director of marketing and community engagement. “And one group in particular, who were 40 and under, said they wanted a segment of the market that would take place outside of normal working hours. Something more vibrant and alive, like the night markets of Los Angeles, Vietnam and Thailand. A place where they could interact and socialize, shop and listen to live music.”
And so was born the Night Market, along with live music that’s now being billed as World Music Week, with concerts scheduled between July 5 and July 10. “But it’s not just about the international community,” said Murray. IFAM has reached out to local food vendors, Tumbleroot and other Santa Fe businesses, encouraging them to take part. “It’s about our community, too, and building a bridge between the two.”
“We’ve been working with the market for ages, probably at least a decade, helping to bring all kinds of cool musicians to perform over the usual market weekend,” said Neal Copperman, executive director of AMP Concerts, the nonprofit that’s managed concerts on the Santa Fe Plaza since last year. “We had already created a concert and movie series in the Railyard, so this was a nice complement to what we’d been doing in Santa Fe for years.”
Last year, in the throes of COVID-related difficulties, AMP’s Railyard series were rushed, shortened and fraught, with no small amount of uncertainty among the wary public. “But heading into our second year,” said Copperman, who until 2019 helped stage Globalquerque, Albuquerque’s
annual festival of world music and culture, “we wanted to start thinking a little broader about how we did things.”
One idea that bubbled up was a week of performances by international bands around the time of IFAM. “We love bringing international musicians to town and are always looking for an excuse to do that,” explained Copperman. “This seemed like the perfect one — to tie together all our projects around the spirit and energy of the market. And the market had independently decided to host Night Market, so all these ideas fit together nicely.”
Market week kicks off on Tuesday, July 5, with an artist procession and a community celebration on the Plaza, along with the first of AMP’s musical acts, Son Como Son, fronted by Cuban bandleader César Bauvallet, performing on the Plaza stage. Wednesday features the invitation-only opening night party. IFAM officially begins on Thursday, with the market open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A local band plays that night on the Plaza as part of World Music Week.
Friday night, after the market closes at 6 p.m., Seun Kuti takes the stage at the Railyard. If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because Seun is the son of legendary Nigerian activist and Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Seun has played in New Mexico before — in Albuquerque in 2012 and in Taos in 2016.
The market’s featured band, which has never, as far as anyone knows, stepped foot in the U.S. before, is the Colombian hip-hop collective Kombelisa Mi. It opens IFAM’s first-ever Night Market on Saturday. If any band exemplifies the ethos and spirit of IFAM, it’s this rotating collective of musicians, singers and rappers, formed in 2011 in the village of Palenque, about an hour southeast of Cartagena. The band’s name means “my friends” in Palenquero.
Palenque was the first settlement of freed slaves in the Americas, and Palenquero is now spoken by no more than 3,000 people. The band’s mission is very similar to that of the market: the preservation and sharing of language and culture. (Even the band members’ hair conveys history: the intricate braids some wear are a reference to their ancestors, who in their braids wove maps that helped lead them and their fellow slaves to freedom.)
“Not only is it cool to have them playing here, but who they are and what they do ties in to our mission and vision — passing along their art to future generations,” said Murray. (The band also headlines AMP’s new free summer concert series at The FUSION Meadow in Albuquerque on Sunday.)
“Both Seun Kuti and Kombelisa Mi have traditional roots that they expand in their own ways,” noted Copperman, “much like the many IFAM artists who work in traditional styles but bring them into modern times.”
If you go
IFAM Night Market takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, on Museum Hill, in the same space as the daytime market, with a live performance by Colombian hip-hop collective Kombelisa Mi.
Food and drink are available for purchase. ID will be checked at the front of the house and at the entrance to the beverage garden. Tickets cost $20, plus a $2 fee.
Devon Jackson is a writer in Santa Fe. He has written for “The New York Times,” “Outside” and “Rolling Stone” and is the author of “Conspiranoia! The Mother of All Conspiracy Theories.”
Santa Fe New Mexican