Jeff Hertz


Regular Brick Light District patron and performer, Christian Orellana, is one of hundreds of local musicians who have leveraged their First Amendment Rights to perform in the public right-of-way and launch their musical careers.  Now, at the age of 46, Orellana has landed himself a leading role with the local latin fusion band, Concepto Tambor.  Two Way Street had the opportunity to sit down with Orellana before Concepto Tambor’s performance on June 6 to hear more about his journey and to ask how Brick Light Nights supports his profession.


“Brick Light Nights is being organized by some of the most active members of our community,” said Orellana. “These are… people who are being proactive in addressing local issues rather than reactive.  Brick Light Night’s organizers are more of friends than anything else.  They have the same hustle, just a different dress. Alex Paramo, as a single father, needs to be paid for his efforts as an event organizer like any other traditional employee.”


Orellana discussed how community organizers that have continually coordinated grassroots events are now being recognized by Albuquerque’s new Mayor.  “It’s great to see that community leaders like Carlos Contreras who helped start Brick Light Nights is now working in the Mayor’s Office.  He is exactly where he needs to be in order to make changes in our city.”


While Orellana expressed gratitude in seeing his closest peers and role models being recognized by the City, Orellana said that the City still has work to do in focusing on how to nurture local talent rather than attracting it from other places. “For events like Summer Fest, the City’s prerogative is still to attract other talent rather than taking a good look at what we have here locally.  The last time I checked, the City took 90 days to pay musicians for their services.  That is why events like Brick Light Nights are so important for our music community.  These are events that are born out of relationships, not routines or schedules.”


But Orellana also emphasized that when participating in the gig economy, it is essential to identify a consistent flow of gigs in order to survive.  “There are the 9-to-5ers and then there are us.  We can be free and bohemian, but we need something sustainable – and weekly event series like Brick Light Nights can provide us with that.”


Orellana’s first attempt at participating in the gig economy came when he was just 17 years old. “Music was my rescue as a young man.  I was getting wrapped up in a gang, but through music my positivity began to come out.  I suddenly became an asset to my community.  Flash forward to now, I am 46 years old, an entertainer who has graduated from music school, and a full-blown musician with a family.  I always tell my band to detach ourselves from our vanity and to just be a human being out there on stage.”


When looking back at the development of his career, Orellana always points back to the First Amendment.  “The busker’s loophole is the First Amendment – their ability to just plug-in and play.  Busking might not be a business, but it still requires the musician to understand his parameters and to be clear about his mission, vision, goals, and responsibilities.  I believe in education over regulation.”



It has been almost 2 years since I first caught wind of the street paper movement while studying City Planning at the University of New Mexico. After attending the 2015 International Network of Street Paper Summit in Seattle, I knew that Albuquerque’s original street paper launched in 1990 had to be revived.


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