A virtual Big Barn Dance

Most of the original lineup will still livestream Sept. 10-12

Posted 7/2/20

Bad news, first.

For the many who look forward to Michael Hearne's Big Barn Dance Music Festival each year in Taos, it has officially been canceled for 2020.

Good news is that Hearne and his musical friends are hard at work to create an alternative virtual festival of performances by many of the artists who were lined up to play this year.

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A virtual Big Barn Dance

Most of the original lineup will still livestream Sept. 10-12

Posted

Bad news, first.

For the many who look forward to Michael Hearne's Big Barn Dance Music Festival each year in Taos, it has officially been canceled for 2020.

Good news is that Hearne and his musical friends are hard at work to create an alternative virtual festival of performances by many of the artists who were lined up to play this year.

The original 2020 festival was scheduled to take place on Sept. 10-12 in Kit Carson Park. Hearne intends to have the virtual performances take place around the same time frame. He and the Big Barn Dance staff are still working out details.

We spoke to Hearne to find out more about the decision to cancel the live festival, his plans for a virtual offering and what he has been up to during these times.

Hearne said he consulted with the town of Taos in making the decision to cancel the live music festival, waiting as long as possible in the hopes that the coronavirus pandemic would ease up.

Ultimately, it seemed it would be best for the safety and health of everyone involved to cancel the festival that typically draws guests from all over the country.

"I want to thank the town of Taos for being careful, and being considerate. They really have been, I think. And, the governor as well," said Hearne.

Hearne said all the artists were booked for the festival months ago, before the pandemic hit.

"We had some nationally known great artists who were lined up to be here," said Hearne. He added that all the artists have been very understanding about the cancellation.

This year's lineup included Balsam Range, Beat Root Revival, Bill Hearne Trio, Chuck Cannon, Gary Nicholson, Gary P. Nunn, hONEyhoUSe, James McMurtry, Jed Zimmerman, Johnny Nicholas, Kimmie Rhodes, The Last Bandeleros, Michael Hearne, Red Dirt Rangers, Rick Trevino, The Rifters, Robbie Fulks, Shake Russell, Shawn Camp, Shinyribs, South by Southwest, Susan Gibson, Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines, and Wood and Wire.

To highlight just a few of these talented musicians, Beat Root Revival is a multi-instrumentalist roots duo. Originally from Ireland and England, Andrea Magee and Ben Jones are now based in Austin, Texas. Hearne shared that Beat Root Revival has been livestreaming some very creative shows during quarantine. Check them out on their Beat Root Revival Facebook page or their website, beatrootrevival.com.

Chuck Cannon is a perennial Big Barn Dance favorite. A natural storyteller who is both insightful and funny as heck, Cannon writes songs on topics from from addiction to love to politics - all in a good-natured manner that draws people together. Find out more at chuckcannon.com.

The Red Dirt Rangers are Brad Picollo (guitar, vocals) John Cooper (mandolin, percussion, vocals) and Ben Han (lead guitar, vocals). Based in the Red Dirt music tradition of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and a place called The Farm, The Red Dirt Rangers have been playing together since the 1980s.

Greg Johnson writes in No Depression magazine, "The Rangers have a sound that combines the legacy of Woody Guthrie and Bobb Wills with the spirit of everyone from Merle Haggard to the Grateful Dead and all manner of American music in between." Find out more at reddirtrangers.com.

Hearne said most of these musicians have already agreed to perform for the Big Barn Dance in a virtual format. He plans to have all willing artists record a few of their songs to be turned into a compilation with commentary by Hearne interspersed to keep it lively.

The finished compilation will be aired in September on the weekend the Big Barn Dance Music Festival was scheduled to take place. In addition to entertaining the loyal audience members of the annual Taos event, Hearne hopes it will also give musicians some extra financial support during a time when gigs are being canceled and many musicians and other artists are struggling to make ends meet.

"We're going to really try and step it up," said Hearne. "We're going to try to make it special … to make the fans and artists as happy as we can make them. It won't be like the Barn Dance, but it will be the best thing we can do at this time. And, we'll look forward to 2021 and pray to God that this virus will go away."

During the pandemic, Hearne has been settling in at Red River, writing songs and working on recording material for his new album at Don Richmond's Howlin' Dog Studio in Alamosa, Colorado.

"I'm excited about my new record," said Hearne. "We will have it out by Barn Dance weekend."

One of the songs on the new album is a very touching tribute song to the late, great John Prine, who died on April 7 from COVID-19 complications. Hearne researched footage of John Prine interviews to inform his song, and made a video of "A Song for John Prine" that is viewable on his Michael Hearne Music Facebook page.

In addition, Hearne has been playing music for his uncle Bill Hearne's new record.

"He sounds better than ever," said Michael Hearne.

Both Michael and Bill Hearne have been taking advantage of the new livestreaming way of gigging that has become popular during the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Hearne has been performing live on a regular basis, usually on Tuesdays, and his previous concerts are viewable on his Michael Hearne Music Facebook page. He occasionally has a special guest appearing with him. Recent guests have included Kelly Mickwee and Ben Jones.

Bill Hearne has likewise been playing live concerts from Santa Fe at Bill Hearne Music on Facebook.

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