Dawn Richardson is the woman behind the Taos Solar Music Fest. On June 27th, the Solar Fest will be back in Kit Carson Park for its 15th year, auspiciously in 2015.
Dawn and I met last week in the park to chat about the Solar Fest, the challenges of putting on an event this size here in Taos, and life in general.
On the weekend of the 27th, the park will transform, as it has every summer for the past 15 years, into a world-class music venue, but the day we met, except for a few workers, walkers and a couple of kids in the playground, the park was empty and quiet. I commented that it seemed so small when in fact it can hold up to 8,000 people as witnessed a couple of years ago when Dawn (and Dan Sherman, her long-time partner in the Solar Fest), brought Mumford and Sons to Taos.
Dawn started out working for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival during the early 80’s where her love of Music Festivals was born. There were other Music gigs that followed (including a long stint with Putamayo World Music) but 17 years ago, she brought her well honed Festival chops to Taos and has gifted our community with fabulous music ever since.The challenges she has faced in keeping the Solar Fest going year after year have been monumental. A registered nurse, she works at Holy Cross Hospital to ensure all the Festival expenses will be covered. She (and Dan Sherman) have dipped into their savings, taken loans and mortgaged their homes – anything it takes to keep the show going.
The resistance she’s been up against in certain circles here in Taos has been quite something to observe. Having worked in the Music Industry for many years myself, I know too well what it takes to put on a show let alone one this size. The logistics alone are migraine inducing, without even going into the expense.
But Dawn does it and she deserves so much credit. Two days before the Mumford gig, which packed our town with fans of the band who came from far and wide, she had surgery for the breast cancer she survived after months of chemo and radiation. I wondered if she’d be able to witness the extraordinary event she’d once more pulled out of her hat and sure enough, there she was; back on the job.
She’s nothing if not a fighter and a survivor.
“You know, this is my love,” she tells me, “the whole Festival thing is like a family vibe and this festival is so unique.”
“Look at this place, can you think of anywhere better to hang out for a couple of days with unbelievable music going on 24/7?”
This year’s very International line-up includes the Aussie roots and jam band, The John Butler Trio, the South African born Kongos, Manchester’s Rixton, Rodrigo y Gabriela, William Topley and The Wallflowers.
There’s still time to get tickets online (link below this post) and summer in Taos is blissful. The high desert is a world away from Coachella heat. So pack your prettiest festival garb, bring the beads and fringe and come and join the party!
Photos of Dawn in Kit Carson Park by Lynne Robinson