Bringing live music to eastern New Mexico

By Paula Cronic: Freedom Newspapers

Located between Clovis and Portales, The Hole is a small music venue for high school- and college-age students to hear local and out-of-state bands.

Promoter Jonathan LeBlanc said being compelled to provide live rock music is why he helped create The Hole, celebrating its first anniversary at its current location on N.M. 467.

“The Hole came from an idea my friend Chris Montoya and I had that there should be live music in this area, considering its historic connections with rock ’n’ roll in general with Buddy Holly having recorded here,” LeBlanc said. He said having The Hole provides a place for youth in Portales and Clovis to have a good time without alcohol or drugs.

“We’re trying to kill the connotations and notions that all music and artists are into drugs and alcohol,” he said.

LeBlanc also appreciates the small-town feel of Portales. He wants those raised in the area to be proud of being from a small town and from New Mexico, and to be a part of something so they can feel as if they have somewhere to go.

“If a high school kid grows up here always having something to do here on the weekends, meet friends and it’s a safe place for them to hang out and hear music, maybe they’ll decide to go to college in Portales,” LeBlanc said. “And when they graduate, maybe they will decide to stay here and be whatever they are going to be here instead of moving to Albuquerque or someplace else.”

Because it is a small venue, shows at The Hole can be more intimate, which gives the crowd a chance to interact more closely with the bands.
Matt Jackson, a drummer for the band The Rise of the Dead, has been playing at The Hole since its debut three years ago.

“I enjoy the interaction with the kids,” Jackson said. “We always have a real good time with the crowd. They are always really good to us and real energetic.”

Having provided nearly 300 shows since 2003, The Hole has gained recognition among bands. Through word of mouth and the help of the Internet, it has become a main attraction to bands passing through the area.

Rarely does LeBlanc have to contact and ask a band to play now that The Hole is gaining some recognition.

“A lot of people just know that the Portales and Clovis area is the place to play now because the word has spread around and so they usually just contact me,” LeBlanc said.

This Saturday’s show will be rather large with Zechs Marquise, The Build and Jackson’s band taking the stage. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Donations are welcome as the money goes to the bands and The Hole for expenses such as electricity and rent.

Feeling spiritually connected to the music, LeBlanc said he now knows this is what he’s supposed to be doing.

“I actually feel like I have a purpose now,” he said.