Solstice, Aftergrass and ladies fashion

by Lindsay Nelson

Your frozen, sandaled feet may not have believed it last weekend, but it is summer – or it will be, come Tuesday, the summer solstice. For reasons unknown to society mavens countywide, there is little or no mention of this major pagan holiday in any of our weekly department store circulars. Why are we not cajoled to buy “Hot tops for Solstice!” or stock up on “brooms for that special Wiccan”? The market is wide open for enterprising retailers of the black arts.

The summer solstice is a very special event, the longest day of the year. The downside, of course, is that means every day of summer is actually descending into the long, dark depths of winter, one or two minutes of daylight at a time. What a gyp! Looking for a way to celebrate this ancient feast day that won’t frighten your children or get you fired? The Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College is hosting its annual solstice-marker sighting at the Southwest Studies exhibit gallery early Tuesday morning.

“The gallery has a solstice window in its uppermost, northeast corner, similar to those of the Ancestral Puebloans of Southwest Colorado,” according to a news release from the center. “Each June 21, the first rays of the summer solstice sun shine through this window, casting a sharp image of a spiral on the opposite wall of the gallery.” The phenomenon lasts about 10 minutes and should occur between 6:15 and 6:45 a.m. A light breakfast will be offered, and the doors open at 6 a.m.

Some of Durango’s other summertime indicators came early this year. The descent of the be-shorted and confused tourist masses is upon us, and the outdoor hard cores are in full-conquest, brag mode. These rites of the season are an annual struggle for many locals, and no doubt pose an existential dilemma to the creators of the Telegraph’s “Thumbin’ It” feature. On the one hand, tourists can be annoying, they clog the sidewalks and restaurants and city streets with their directionless wandering and damn lazy vacation pace. And yet we must love them, or at least say, “I sure am glad they came,” for otherwise our service-based economy would never get its much-needed shot in the arm. And so, like castor oil and algebra, we don’t like it but it’s good for us. And we can live with that.

As for the outdoor enthusiasts whose favorite Sunday morning activity is a nice, long brag session over coffee or breakfast downtown – who really needs that? Granted, it’s great that “dude” had a totally freakin’ sweet paddle down the Animas, man, then jumped on his Kona and raged up Horse Gulch and almost friggin’ ate it big time, dog. But, really … isn’t that enough? This ain’t Adventure TV, and Sundays are for lazy people with newspapers.

Speaking of weekend activities, there are a few options for the night crowds. If this column doesn’t offend you and you really want to be, try out Durango Dot Comedy on Friday and Saturday night at the Abbey Theatre. I am loath

to give the impression that this improv comedy troupe traffics in smutty and crude humor. But one man’s funny is another person’s outrage, as some of us learned a couple of weeks ago. The laughs begin at 8:30 p.m. both nights.


to give the impression that this improv comedy troupe traffics in smutty and crude humor. But one man’s funny is another person’s outrage, as some of us learned a couple of weeks ago. The laughs begin at 8:30 p.m. both nights.

If you’d rather rock out than laugh in, head over to the Summit on Friday night for a performance by Aftergrass, a band that does not play bluegrass (oh, the blasphemy!). It’s prog rock with a multi-genre color weave. A popular band in town Aftergrass is, probably because it is able to skillfully breach the gaps between our myriad tastes in music, and get everyone grooving. Which is nice.

Sunday night offers a mysterious event at the Wild Horse Saloon, known to the Society Page only as “Ladies Fashion Show.” Does this mean only ladies should attend? Is it a tasteful exhibit of this spring’s loveliest new frocks, displayed in a genteel manner? Or … well, just see for yourself.

Reaching beyond the scope of this week in society are a couple of highly recommended musical events about which you must know immediately. The first is the 17th annual Silverton Jubilee, June 24-26. I’m still disappointed about BR-549’s cancellation, but that was a little too good to be true anyway. Go for the close-in camping, the low-key and friendly vibe and the Ska tent; stay for the music. Highlights of the lineup are Victor Wooten (the Beethoven of bass, formerly of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones); Jimmy Ibbotsen (guitarman, still and always, of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band); Fruit (Australian short-hairs who sorta rock, in a nonoffensive manner); and Harper, an Aussie blues harp man with a perfect blues growl and the added interest of some cool Aboriginal instruments such as the didgeridoo. Fun to say, fun to listen to. Check out for a complete line-up and ticket info.

And with my last dying breath, I urge you all to buy a ticket for Charlie Musselwhite on July 7, presented by the good folks at the Durango Society of Cultural and Performing Arts. Musselwhite’s body of work comprises more than 20 albums of his own, and he has contributed to countless others including guest work on Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy Award-winning “Longing in Their Hearts;” The Blind Boys of Alabama’s Grammy-winning “Spirit of the Century;” Tom Waits’ “Mule Variations”; and even playing the driving harmonica on INXS’ “Suicide Blonde.” He was the longtime compadre and musical partner of John Lee Hooker. (Preceding paragraph stolen in its entirety from Mr. Musselwhite’s website, but that’s what it’s for, and I’m on deadline, damnit!)

Tickets to the Thurs., July 7, show at the Durango Arts Center are on sale now, and this is the first show of the season for the Durango Society of Cultural and Performing Arts, now in its 16th year.

Until we meet again,




In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows