Janie Romer and I have been friends since we met in NYC during the early 80’s, introduced by Anton Fig and Tony Garnier who were playing with Robert Gordon at the time.
Anton and his then wife had invited me to a gig at the Lone Star. Janie and I showed up wearing the same dress by a little known Downtown designer. We could have hated one another but instead, each of us recognized a kindred spirit and for a few mad years before life led us along different paths, had many adventures together in the city that never sleeps. I don’t think we slept much either.
Fast forward a decade or so (Janie had returned to London, and I was living in Taos) we reunited in NYC and she began to visit me here over the next ten years. She fell in love with Taos which really was no surprise since she’s always had a thing for the West; in her dress, her choice of Art and her love of open spaces and sunshine.The poster by TC Cannon, hanging above Mark’s chair has hung in all of her homes since she lived in the East Village. It was one of the first things she bought in America. When their belongings arrived from Europe it was immediately installed in their dining room.
Last year her dream of moving here came true when she and her husband Mark Barker visited and found a property that spoke to their vision. A place where Mark, who also lived in the States for many years, could be closer to his daughter in California and Janie’s sons, who are American citizens (their father Janie’s ex, is the renowned Hip Hop engineer Jay Burnett), could experience a very different life from the one they knew growing up in London.
Mark and Janie bought the Stakeout, a Taos institution that perches on Outlaw Hill, where local lore has it Billy the Kid hid out from the business men in Taos and Pat Garrett. For years the Stakeout was a restaurant and the favourite gathering place for modern day outlaws such as Dennis Hopper and his posse, but locals and visitors loved the place because of the amazing views from the terrace where one could sip a drink before dinner while watching the sun setting in the West, illuminating the vast horizon.
A few years ago the restaurant closed and the building sat empty and forlorn. Currently it’s in the process of being given a makeover and will open next Spring in a new incarnation as a venue for events and delightful Pop Up surprises.
Janie who is an accomplished musician, singer and song writer (she sang with Bert Jansch among others) and once worked at Vogue in both Paris and New York, is sure to bring her Bohemian joie de vivre to the interior of the space which will almost certainly become a haven for musicians from all over. Mark and Janie’s sons Oscar and CJ Burnett are all musicians with friends who are musicians, so it’s inevitable that music will play a big role at the Stakeout. Being connected in that way to musicians can be a huge help if you want to get into the music industry, for others they can turn to software like a find musicians app, helping them get connected to professionals.
Oscar is also an extremely gifted artist who at eighteen was the youngest finalist in the esteemed BP Portrait Competition which resulted in his piece being hung in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Like his mother, Oscar has fallen under the Land of Enchantment’s spell. I’ll be profiling Oscar and his work here on taoStyle in the next few weeks.
Photographs of Mark Barker, Janie Romer, Oscar Burnett and Paz Lenchantin by Bill Curry