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Finally, we're getting some decent shows here in Albuquerque.  In years past,  most concerts I wanted to see were either at Journal Pavilion  (previously known as the much-prettier-named Mesa del Sol)  which is way south of the airport in the middle of nowhere or I would have to go out-of-town  (or, more often, out-of-state).  I think I've seen more shows in the Phoenix/Tempe,  Arizona,  area than here in 'Burque.

But that's beginning to change,  particularly with the Sandia Casino Amphitheatre on the Sandia Indian Reservation just north of the city  (and about a 10-minute drive from my home)  aggressively booking shows.  It's a beautiful venue -- the entire casino complex is just a couple of years old  (replacing the old "blimp hanger" west of I-40) -- with Pueblo Revival-style architecture and a spectacular view of the Rio Grande Valley on one side and the Sandia Mountains on the other.  Last year,  there were several good concerts held there -- I managed to attend two with some out-of-town friends  (ZZ Top one night and then Yes with Dream Theater opening the following night).  I even saw Los Lobos near Albuquerque -- at the Route 66 Casino out in the arroyos west of town  (technically, Rio Puerco).  But the other concerts I attended were elsewhere:  in Kansas City for Bob Walkenhorst  (twice, once in July -- I was actually in K.C. for my dad's wedding -- and again in September) and Bob Dylan with Willie Nelson and The Hot Club Of Cowtown also in September.

This year is shaping up to be a little different.  So far,  the only show that I'm planning to travel for is U2 with Kings Of Leon in Phoenix a week from this Friday  (the opening band is also scheduled to play here at the Sunshine Theatre a few days later;  I'm tentatively planning to attend that gig if I like what I hear in Arizona).  I'll probably be traveling to see Bruce Springsteen as well,  but the tour dates still haven't been announced  (there have been reports today that the tour will begin at Boston's Tweeter Center,  but that seems unlikely as it's been stated he would be playing semi-acoustic shows in smaller venues during at least the first portion of the tour).

I also have tickets to see Wilco with Handsome Family at Albuquerque's Kiva Auditorium -- a smallish venue on the third floor of the Convention Center downtown  (this is where I saw Springsteen play on his last acoustic tour in 1996) -- as well as a couple of concerts at Sandia Casino Amphitheatre:  Calexico with Los Lonely Boys and Ozomatli on May 7th and The Allman Brothers Band with Lynyrd Skynyrd on May 10th (second row center!).  I'm really looking forward to the Allmans show -- they are probably my third favorite live act and the last few times I've seen them,  I've had to travel to Arizona or Colorado.  It will be nice to have them playing on my home turf once again  (the last time they played in New Mexico was at Santa Fe's Paolo Soleri in 1997 and before that was the Horde Festival up in Santa Fe just three weeks after I moved here in 1994).

Some of the other shows scheduled for Sandia that I may be interested in attending include The Moody Blues on June 15 and ZZ Top on June 23.  I'll probably also go see The Robert Cray Band at the Rio Grande Zoo in August.

Yes,  it's shaping up to be an interesting year for live music in the Duke City,  coinciding with our 300th birthday celebrations.