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Music series showcases New Mexico’s beauty

Albuquerque sunset
Prism Bitch band performing for Bands of Enchantment

Emmy award winning music TV show, Bands of Enchantment, is premiering season three this weekend. KUNM spoke with executive producer and creator Ken C. Peterson.

KEN PETERSON: It's kind of a postcard to the world of New Mexico, and Albuquerque. I grew up in New Mexico and then went abroad to search for entertainment gigs and creative gigs. And the story that people shared about New Mexico is very different from what my experience was. So yeah, after a long career in the entertainment industry, I joined forces with my brother, and we started a production company. And we really wanted to make a television show that got us back to New Mexico, we wanted to make something that shared the story of New Mexico that we know and love and also provided an opportunity for artists of all ages from New Mexico. Every season, we have five New Mexican artists on the show, as well as artists and bands from all over the world. So we bring them to New Mexico to have the experience that we know and love and they can take that back with them.

KUNM: When did you start Bands of Enchantment?

PETERSON: We kind of penned it in like 2018 and then it was really my stepdad, he really kind of started taking it around town, so to speak, it was just an idea of three pages of like, Hey, how about this. And before we knew it, we were in talks with making it in the city of Tucumcari. Then COVID hit and we weren't sure if it was going to happen anymore. And we actually did it during the height of COVID, which was kind of crazy. But there was this just this true beauty to it. Because the bands hadn't played together in a year, we filmed that at a in a train depot in Tucumcari, no heat, no internet, we like completely transformed the space. It's a great freshman season. From there, we reached out to Albuquerque and we literally took it down the tracks. We didn't know we were gonna have like a train theme. But we filmed at the rail yards, which is an incredible space. And it actually won an Emmy for a television show and also won a Telly award.

KUNM: Why did you want to do this in New Mexico?

PETERSON: To do something special and unique and to share New Mexico in the light that I experienced it in. And a lot of people just as I moved around and lived in different states just didn't see it that way. And I was always trying to change the dialogue. And yeah, so I was like, what if we made a show where New Mexico was the main character and not in like a Breaking Bad light, which is amazing show but it just doesn't necessarily paint Albuquerque and all the spectrums. And there's just an incredible music scene here too. So we kind of always wanted to end up here. And so now that we are it's very exciting. We film on the mainstage. So you're at the KiMo, and you see a couple of songs, and then we drone somewhere else in Albuquerque. And we see the artists perform an acoustic song and an interview there that we film earlier in the day. And so you really get to like experience in each episode, New Mexico, Albuquerque.

KUNM: How do bands and performers get selected for the show?

PETERSON: Well, anyone interested can always, through our website bands of enchantment.com, submit Spotify or Bandcamp link, as well as live performances, as many as you have and diversity is top of mind. And then also eclectic genres. For us, it's like trying to break up the algorithm a little bit of like getting fed through the algorithm your music, kind of like going to that record shop and you know, getting a record recommended or seen somebody grab one and be like, “Ooh!” It's a really like spreadsheet of checkboxes of making sure we bring people from different parts of the country, world, and then New Mexican artists very similar. And eventually want to go for like 40 seasons, and we want everyone to be on the show.

KUNM: What are you looking forward to for the season? 

PETERSON: For season three? I'm looking forward to everyone seeing it. I'm so excited to have everyone see the work that they're all a part of, you know, like the audience shows up there, you know, they're in the episodes, so they get to like, be excited that you know, they were there and they're on the screen now too. And it's really like the sense of community too. It's just a beautiful thing to celebrate art and music and New Mexico.

Season three will premiere Saturday, Jan. 27 on NMPBS at 4:30 p.m. MST. It will also stream on the PBS App and other platforms.

Mia Casas is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in Journalism and Theatre at the University of New Mexico. She comes to KUNM through an internship with the New Mexico Local News Fund and is staying on as a student reporter as of fall 2023.
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