This used to be called ‘moonshining’

by Ted Holteen

Far from being anything resembling an old-timer in this town, I have nonetheless stood idly by as dozens of fads and mini-fads have come and gone in the past 11 years. Mercifully, I might add. The co-opting of reggae music by white college students was nauseating when I arrived in 1995, and I am convinced that only the emergence of Eminem saved Jamaican music from achieving the canonical equivalent of disco or grunge. Not that I have anything against reggae music or the Rastafarians to whom it is sacred, but the fact is I’m not a Rastafarian. I don’t listen to hymns, either. Also hot in that summer of ’95 was Wise Monkey Orchestra, “The Altered State” with Duval, and a homey little video store called Movies to Go. Change is good. (Author’s note: That guy Scott who got arrested for the naughty pictures didn’t own the store at that time.) But what I remember most about my new Colorado friends was that they were fascinated with the tedious and gross task of making their own beer. When I first started hanging out with Liggett, he would have several six-packs of his own brews in the fridge which I think cost him about 30 bucks each and tasted like corn syrup with sand in it. He would proudly hand me one and say something like “Budweiser sucks” or “people who buy beer are stupid,” then I would spend the next hour forcing the thing down with the aid of about 12 cigarettes of varying composition. Included in every version of the home brewer’s creed at the time was something relating to the satisfaction of creating one’s own consumables or some such pioneer work ethic, although they would always change the subject when I suggested they make me a nice shirt. This brew craze swept the town for a time, but fortunately some people did it better than others. We call them professionals, like Van Heusen and Prada.

Liggett and his ilk finally realized that they could still be beer snobs without capitulating to the Milwaukee megabrewers or letting yeast spawn into stalagmites in their kitchens. Some of those talented home brew freaks took to entrepreneurin’, resulting in four, top-notch breweries that thrive today, here in Durango. All of this leads to an ironic celebration taking place at Ska on Saturday afternoon. It’s the American Homebrewer’s Association Membership Rally, beginning at 1 p.m. Brewmeisters from all four local breweries will be giving pointers, Steamworks is doing its kick-ass Cajun Boil, and two nationally renowned beer wizards will be on hand bragging, signing stuff and talking about beer. Charlie Papazian wrote the bible on the topic, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, and Ray Daniels is the author of Designing Great Beers-The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles. On a related topic, Ted’s Books will be offering signed copies of the aforementioned books at a price to be determined, beginning Sunday. Also not to be missed is “Bill Graham’s 24 Hours of Karaoke,” where you shout out requests and Graham has to sing them without benefit of the lyrics monitor. It’s quite fun. The idea behind the whole day is to get people to join the AHA and make their own beer, thereby frustrating another generation of hippies into giving the whole thing up again and gaining a newfound appreciation for our craft breweries. Sounds like a Maxsonic plan to me. It’s just the type of underhanded subversion that he would try to pull. Once I even saw him making out with a Telegraph staffer in the hopes of getting cheap advertising for Carvers. As a result, the once chaste Ophelia apparently lost her mind and started writing haikus, and now Carvers pays double.

So that’s Saturday at the great Ska Brewery. Today, the weekly Ska-B-Q continues with free food, cheap beer and live music from something called the Staboola McPet Quintet. They’re a jazzy type outfit hailing from Boulder, and before their national tour they’ve, for some reason, decided to


play two dates here in Durango. I just told you about the first one (at the Ska-B-Q – pay attention), and then this mysterious bunch will hold a CD release party on Saturday night at the Durango Arts Center to introduce their debut album, “What Now?” I don’t know why they chose Durango, who’s behind all of this, or where they came from (other than Boulder), but I guess they’re here now so you should check them out. Maybe they’ll score a guest shot on “House,” get really famous, and then you can say, “I saw them in a parking lot once.” If you’re into that sort of thing.

Wow. I’ve almost completed this whole treatise, and I’m just now getting to the classical portion. Music in the Mountains kind of hits its peak this weekend, with two Mozart-heavy programs on Friday and Saturday night under the big top at Purgatory (will someone tell me if that’s what I’m supposed to call that place? Is there any other organization that changes its name every year for a decade? Really. And Sean Combs doesn’t count.) Then it’s loaded up the trucks on Sunday and brought down to the FLC Concert Hall for what I think is the most appealing lineup of the whole festival. More Mozart, sure – it is his 250th birthday, remember – but also Tchaikovsky’s famous “1812 Overture” in its entirety. If you’ve never seen the thing outside of the final scene from “Caddyshack,” then please make a point of seeing it this time. At the risk of sounding like I know what I’m talking about, it really is a powerful piece of music, and the MITM orchestra is second to none. Seriously – screw the Boston Pops. Talk about a stupid name. I’ve seen them both, and our combo of Texans and New Mexicans can hold their own with anyone, even the Staboola McPet Quintet. I think.

Real quick: Crazy action movies late night at the Abbey on Friday night. Something about snowboarding and surfing … Bayfield finally gets Brazilian music Sunday night, as Mill Street Brews welcomes das Samba … free bluegrass at the Concert Hall this evening features Midnight Backhand … Three one-act plays at the amphitheatre tonight at 8 p.m. on campus – it’s free, too.

Summer’s going quick – how’s it all going to end? 41 days ’til kickoff. •