Profile: Fan Man Productions
originally appeared in Hyperactive Music Magazine, Number 1, Nov/Dec 2004
Jamie Lenfestey is not cool. While life as a Santa Fe concert promoter regularly brings him into contact with the likes of David Byrne, Lucinda Williams, and Steve Earle, it’s all strictly business. “I got over very quickly any notion of being cool from it, ” he said of his brushes with fame. But he clearly loves his work: “It’s satisfying bringing music that wouldn’t otherwise be here,” he explains.
Like so many other Santa Feans, he’s here by chance. Twelve years ago, Lenfestey and his girlfriend (now wife) packed their Volkswagen Vanagon and headed west. They liked the look of this little desert town and decided to stay. Almost immediately, Jamie set out to get involved in the local music scene. He didn’t find much–the one nightclub in town soon closed, and the Lensic was at the time a movie theater, not a concert venue. Despite the setbacks, Lenfestey was determined to start booking shows.
That determination stems from a youth defined by live music. Growing up in Minneapolis, the home of Prince, Hüsker Dü, and the Replacements, he fondly remembers the days when live music was “the thing to do.” He saw the same potential in Santa Fe, and a nascent version of Fan Man Productions was born. His first show, Bruce Coburn, sold out. A seeming triumph, Lenfestey describes it as the “worst thing that could have happened,” because “that made me think it was easy.” Since then, Fan Man has become a fixture in northern New Mexico. Santa Fe has grown too, producing two venues with which Lenfestey regularly works: the restored Lensic Performing Arts Center (no longer a cinema) and the newer Paramount nightclub. “I’m a firm believer in the right melding of artist and venue,” he said, and continues to look for the next great stage in town. Drawing inspiration from his Minneapolis years, Jamie believes that Santa Fe is ready for a regular outdoor summer venue, and he’s already imagining the acts he’d book there. His vision doesn’t stop there, either. He’s banking on the Santa Fe Opera to fulfill what he sees as its “world-class venue” potential. He’s also working to bring in acts that appeal to a broader section of the community, citing a particular interest in booking more shows that would draw in the area’s Hispanic population.
The Fan Man has the drive, the dedication, and the vision to foster the ever-growing live music scene in his corner of the Southwest. “I just want to expose more people to music,” he said. And that’s pretty damn cool.