Breweries in New Mexico have been growing rapidly — now at a total of 85 according the Brewers Association — and as a result, music artists and brewing companies have found a common ground.
Malcome Reese, an acoustic artist, booked a performance at Tractor Brewery after he was discovered doing free shows at Brickyard Pizza.
“It’s great! At least breweries pay you,” Reese said.
Reese has been playing guitar and writing music since he was 14, living in Alabama. He’s been in several bands covering multiple genres and played at countless open mics in Albuquerque. Around the time Reese completed his master’s degree from the University of New Mexico, he began hearing from bookers at the brew pubs who had heard him play at smaller venues.
“A lot of it would have to do with me playing shows and people who were workers at different breweries were lucky enough to be there.”
Being booked at breweries is not like being booked at larger performance venues, according to Lanie Padilla, lead vocalist for local band, Where’s The Rum. Show opportunities mostly come from who you know in the industry or having people share your music with others who can get you access to bookers, according to artists such as Reese who have made a push into brewery venues.
Padilla, lead vocalist for local band Where’s the Rum, said she gets her bookings from the band’s social media marketing and, if they’re lucky other traveling bands that check out local talent. Though they have yet to play at a brewery, there is a possibility that someone in the crowd could give them an opportunity to reach a larger audience.
The New Mexico Brewfest, a festival dedicated to celebrating the breweries across the state, says that over the last nine years, breweries have become a trend among Burquenos, enough so that 32 percent of millennials and 23 percent of Generation X consume craft beer.
The demand for live music from Albuquerque locals who enjoy supporting local artists has been a component in the growth of the brewery scene. The relationship between musician and brewpub is a familiar sight to those who seek a weekend night out on the town.
“Having musicians play creates a beneficial relationship for both parties but it’s also a celebration of New Mexican culture and the New Mexican art scene in general,” said Gethen Reilly, a manager at Tractor Brewery.
Tractor is a popular brewery among New Mexicans, with four locations across the Albuquerque Metro and a future fifth location set to open in Los Lunas.
The brewpub has become a known location for artists of all types- from musicians to painters to poets- to showcase their work.
Bartender Jeff Houffman credits the success of the bar to the way Tractor supports local artists.
“Local music is essential”, Houffman said. “It is one part of a larger art community that we [Tractor] really try to support because there is a mutually beneficial relationship,” he said, “This location [Wells Park]. I don’t know if we would even exist without local music.”
Hoffman said the brewery’s location added to the appeal.
“We have a small stage so it’s usually a pretty intimate experience because you’re sitting right up next to the musicians,” Houffman said. “And they might not have an intimate of a space at other spots. For us that’s huge.”
While pubs benefit financially from the crowds that musicians bring into the venue, the pay off can be just as sweet for local artists trying to build an audience and make some money.
Marble Brewery, another popular New Mexican brewery, artists are offered minimum payment for performances — usually around $200 dollars depending on the band or artist. That comes from a percentage of ticket sales or cover charges and beer sales. They’re also given free beer, of course.
“They make a lot of money here and it’s very mutually beneficial,” Jake Hall, a lead bartender at Marble’s downtown location said.
Marble, like Tractor, has come to the consensus that art and beer make a popular pair.
“Everybody comes and they want to party and listen to live music,” Hall said. “Marble is very much all about supporting local artists in all forms whether it be food, music, painting, tattoos, anything.”
Marble offers a large outdoor stage and patio for performers, drawing in larger bands who may need more space than smaller venues..
Popular venues around downtown Albuquerque attribute their success not only to the live music they bring in, but also their individuality that makes them stand out in a crowd.
“I know it sounds simple but, be different,” Reilly said. He attributes Tractor’s individuality to their service, which he said is “unparalleled.”
The competition ultimately comes down to who makes the best beer. At Marble, their unique stamp as Hall says, comes from the beer they produce, along with their other drink options.
“I think breaking the norm has been something that’s helped us a lot. We try to offer a good variety in beers instead of what’s super trendy.” Hall said. “We’re very hip to what the trend is, like seltzers, sours and the hazies, but we also like to do traditional beer styles.”
Both brewing companies made the top ten largest breweries in New Mexico in 2017, according to the Business First List of New Mexico’s Largest Breweries. Tractor sits at number six, while Marble is the second largest behind Santa Fe Brewing Company.
Distinguishing a craft bar among the 47 breweries between Albuquerque and Rio Rancho alone can be challenging for newcomers to the area. For Daniel Gorman, owner of Dialogue Brewing, the thought behind Dialogue was to create a space for artists to showcase their talents and have people participate in open conversation over a drink and good music.
“We’re dramatically different than every other brewery,” Gorman said. “We concentrate on curating the experience and communication between ourselves and our clients.”
Gorman designed the brew pub with music and art in mind. He said that they are willing to accommodate all types of mediums and offers a large outdoor patio for musicians and dancers to perform in.
“People are music heads!” Sam Urbano, Dialogue Brewing manager said. “New Mexicans themselves are music people.”
Urbano said that almost every weekend Dialogue has different musicians playing- ranging from electronic dance music to punk rock and jazz.
“This is more of an event space,” Urbano said, pointing out that the brewery doesn’t have any TV’s to distract from artists.
Dialogue recently celebrated its three year anniversary. Gorman says that the company is still growing and getting a name for itself, but that takes time.
“The goal going forward is to have people come here and have conversations.” Gorman said. “A great atmosphere, great beer and great service. That’s what we work towards.”
Alanie Rael is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port, she can be contacted on Twitter @AllyRael or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Solis is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port, she can be contacted on Twitter @Drearooo or at email@example.com