Serving the High Plains

Possible film locations scouted

Two principals who are producing "Bands of Enchantment" spent two days in Tucumcari last week to scout possible film locations and gather promotional footage for the planned music television series.

Ken C. Peterson and Tyson Chavez of Elkhorn Entertainment said they toured the Tucumcari Convention Center, the historic railroad depot and other possible spots that could be used for performances by New Mexican and Americana music acts. Elkhorn's principals have envisioned the show as a New Mexico version of PBS' long-running "Austin City Limits."

Peterson and Chavez said they also met with residents, including city manager Mark Martinez, Tucumcari MainStreet executive director Connie Loveland, city commissioner Christopher Arias and Desert Inn motel owner and Lodgers Tax Advisory Board member Al Patel.

"We're really excited about it, and the people we met are really excited about it," Chavez said.

"Bands of Enchantment" last month received up to $60,000 in lodgers' tax funds to produce four of the eight episodes for the series. The production company will cover the rest of the cost through sponsorships.

Production is expected to begin in January, with a projected air time in the spring on New Mexico PBS stations, RFD-TV's Cowboy Channel and the Amazon Prime online platform. New Mexico PBS stations reach 650,000 households weekly. RFD-TV's Cowboy Channel is in over 50 million homes on cable and satellite TV. Amazon Prime can reach nearly 100 million viewers.

Peterson and Chavez acknowledged one possible complication in production is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The governor has ordered the closing of non-essential businesses until at least Nov. 30, and public gatherings of more than five people remain forbidden indefinitely.

"We're going to play it by ear the next two weeks while the current lockdown is in place," Chavez said. "We may need to make adjustments, but it's too early to tell yet."

Peterson and Chavez acknowledged the pandemic might delay production. But they indicated they had contingency plans, including "limited audiences" for performances, if restrictions remain in place by January.

"We're coming up with creative options so we can call audibles if they need to be called," Peterson said. "We've done some production during COVID time, including standards of utmost safety."

"It's a little extra work, but ultimately we'll see through it," Chavez said. "We may be healthy individuals, but we don't want to contribute to someone being sick."

In a worst-case scenario where production would be delayed for weeks, Peterson and Chavez said they would need to sit down with the platforms that would distribute the show.

"We're still ahead of the curve enough that we're not having serious discussions about that yet," Chavez said. "Once we get into January, we'll have serious timing discussions with the distributors.

"Ultimately, (the pandemic is) not just a Tucumcari thing; it's a nationwide thing," he added. "Everyone's got to do their part to get it under control."

Peterson and Chavez said they felt even more optimistic about "Bands of Enchantment" after meeting with locals.

"What was really important about us coming out here was to listen to the folks here and always be feeling good about how we approach things," Chavez said. "Every conversation we've had, it's only reinforced our collaboration we have had."

"We feel very confident it will be great for the brand and great for Tucumcari," Peterson said. "We're excited."

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