Storyville Live, hall of music and dreams, dead at age 5

Dave Thibodeau and the beloved Storyville bar, in happier times./Photo by
Todd Newcomer.

(Editors' note: The following was submitted by Joshua Ginsberg)

Storyville Live, of 1150 Main Avenue, in Durango, Colorado, died on 29 August, 2004, from cardiovascular dysfunction manifested in erratic heartbeat and wavering vital signs. She was 5 years old.

Though sustained through the last few months of life by the generous and dedicated patronage of those who had grown to love her, the decision to remove her from life support was made by her father, Dave Thibedeau, and announced to the public on August 21.

Attending the weekend-long celebration in memoriam, one surely would have been consoled that the wake was a fitting homage to the dream that she lived by. Attended each night by over a hundred would-be lovers and dreamers, her halls were filled with the joyful noise of music passionately performed, the bouquet ofA0generously poured whiskey and beer, the warmth of her wood-fired hearth, and the comforting presence of lost-and-found old friends. And the ever-watchful eyes of Helios and Selene watched as many a pair of boots and Birkenstocks scuffled dancing on her floor.

As such a tribute should be, it seemed as if the demise of Storyville Live may have only been a collectively hallucinated nightmare. But Sunday, August 29, 2004, she was laid to rest, securely grounding all of her mourners in the tragic reality.

Award winner and world renowned music critic, Joshua Ginsberg, observed that the presence of both sun and moon on her floor intertwined in a personified yin-and-yang epitomized the life, death and memory of Storyville. Those who embraced her warm hospitality bear witness to the erratic vagaries of her patrons. One recalls evenings such as the recent performance by Nashville rockabilly staple BR-549 to an audience of well over a hundred– the sun's brilliant rays filled her hall, forswearing the late hour of night. Yet with reciprocal clarity her most faithful can tell of evenings with Bernard Allison or Reckless Kelly, when the moon beams dimly lit the handful of spectators in the presence of such brilliant stars.

And this next weekend, nothing but moonlight will shine through the towered skylight in her concert hall. Those who found refuge in the oasis of Austin and Americana in this town of jam bands and hip hop DJs will search destitute for their diet of innovative, original picking as well as favorite covers of Bob Dylan and Jay Farrar.

The funeral ceremony attendees included Storyville's survivors: Dave Thibedeau, whose unceasing and often thankless labors to keep his beloved Storyville alive exposed our small mountain town to the music born in the hills and peaks that surround us; Caroline Burton, whose under-appreciated artistic sensibilities and warm charm venerated each of Storyville's visitors; and Jack Daniel, Storyville's ever benevolent sponsor.

In the end, along with the good times had, the friends made, the appetites fulfilled and the inebriation nurtured, Storyville's passing leaves us with a question: for all of the throngs who attended her memorial ceremonies, how could she have died? Where were these lovers and dreamers when Storyville lived and breathed? In her life, beyond a unique and innovative musical sound, she offered us hopes and dreams radiating from the Janus mask on the floor, asking only that we walk a few more blocks to come and partake, but acceptances were merely sporadic – do we only accept wholeheartedly when she offers us her legacy and her death?

Though Storyville's neon letters no longer illuminate the red brick face of 1150 Main Avenue, none of the faithful who attended her funeral would say that August 20 was “the day the music died.” Far from the case, Storyville gave those who loved her a new soundtrack to their lives whose songs carry on in her absence. And perhaps those new sounds will resolve themselves into another music hall in another building with another name where dreamers can drink whiskey and Shiner Bock, wail along to Dylan's “Moonshiner” and fall in love with the dream once more.






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