Indies versus barbershoppers

by Ted Holteen

If I’m not careful, someone’s going to mistake me for a concertgoer soon. The recent influx of quality entertainment has inspired even this sworn enemy of social gatherings numbering more than four to venture away from my Animas City estate for up to five hours at a time, often in the presence of live music and its accompanying crowds. Could be another mid-life crisis – I think it would be my fourth – but more likely, those to blame are the Brad Merlinos, Josh Benziks and Crista Munros of the world, people in a position to bring good music to the Four Corners who then shock the hell out of people like me by going ahead and actually doing it. As much fun as it’s been recently, it gets even better this week, so I’d better get started lest I run long again and cut into Wagon Wheel’s precious ad space. Like people would wander into Baskin Robbins in search of their morning Tvarski. And what the hell kind of name is Fidanque anyway? (Please support our generous advertisers, without whom none of this would be possible. Thank you, and in case you were wondering, yes, my entire soul is for sale.)

Conspicuously absent from the above list of local talent scouts is KDUR’s David Smith, who despite rumors to the contrary, is not the missing third Cortez fugitive, Jason McVean. He is, however, both a mover and a shaker in Durango’s bluegrass scene and an accomplished musician in his own right. This week, David is simply agog about tonight’s show at the Abbey Theatre. In fact, he even went so far as to ask me if he could write a paragraph for this week’s column expounding the virtues of Asheville, North Carolina’s Town Mountain. Knowing David’s Appalachian upbringing, I was nonetheless still a bit nonplussed upon receiving his submission, scribbled as it was on the back of a cardboard scrap from a 12-pack of Black Label. The only legible sentence, “dey so good it makes my pants hurt,” both cemented my policy to refuse any future guest contributions and also led me to do a bit of research on my own. This Town Mountain is not just another bluegrass band, but rather a group who has a very real grip on the roots of country music. There’s bluegrass to be sure, but the spirits of Merle Haggard and Hank Williams are onstage as well, and that’s where the band takes it to the proverbial next level. Don’t snooze on this Thursday show – if you have any sense about you at all you’ll have already arranged to take Friday off so you can go to Pagosa. More on that shortly.

The Abbey will be full again on Friday night, but it couldn’t be more different than the previous night if they opted for a staging of “Madame Butterfly.” On Friday, the fretless bass makes way for drum & bass, as a gaggle of local hip-hop acts convene for methamphetamine … alright, I thought that looked weird. What they’re actually doing is raising funds and awareness for meth rehab programs, which is much better and less likely to result in mass arrests. Participating in the night’s program is Dialogue, Artikle, the freakishly wonderful Caitlin Demuth, History Of, The Truth and Slick One, Mileva, and MD. I don’t know what half of what I just wrote means, but I’m

sure everyone there will have a great time and the cause is a good one.

Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Now more on that Pagosa thing. What most people know of Folkwest is that it’s the group that puts on the annual Four Corners Folk Festival every Labor Day weekend in Pagosa Springs. And that’s true. But in this “grow or die” business world, diversification is the key, and the message has gotten through loud and clear to Ms. Munro and her festival minions. Enter the first annual Indiefest, happening all day and all night Friday and Saturday. See, that’s why I mentioned that you should be prepared to take Friday off. Indiefest will be a much higher energy weekend than the FCFF, with festivarians much less likely to be scolded for dancing than they would be in September. And that’s a good thing, with a lineup that includes Ruthie Foster, Brave Combo, Eliza Gilkyson, Clumsy Lovers, and my personal favorite, Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams. The setup is similar to FCFF, with camping included in the price of admission or you can stay in luxury at one of Pagosa’s renowned lodges. Or motels. I have a Winnebago. Tickets should still be available at Southwest Sound or you can call (877) 472-4672. The full lineup and a bunch more info is on their website -

The year 1968 is notable for three reasons that I can think of. (1) In April of that year, we mourned the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Damn. (2) In February, I was born. Thank God. And apparently, it was the debut performance of the Durango Barbershoppers, for on Saturday they’ll hold their 38th Annual Barbershoppers Concert at the FLC Community Concert Hall. I love barbershop because I’m a dork. In addition to a slew of local talent, this show will also feature a performance by Ignition!, Rocky Mountain District Champions from Denver. Don’t ask me how one goes about winning such a thing, but they’ve got quite a reputation to live up to. Showtime is 7:01 p.m., which I imagine has some significance but I just don’t care enough to find out what it is.

KSUT’s having a birthday and you’re invited. On Wednesday the 14th, KSUT turns 30, and they’ve got a full day of fun planned in Funville, Colo., aka Ignacio. Starting at 7 a.m., the first 200 members to visit get a special birthday T-shirt, in addition to free food, kids’ activities courtesy of the Durango Discovery Museum, and they’re even getting one of those big inflatable bouncy moonwalk things for the kids (and me) to bounce around in. I was told that’s where I have to stay, and they’ll bring me donuts. Please stop in and say hello. Tune in for more details all week long.

Join me at El Patio on Friday afternoon for the Lawn Chair Kings and I’ll let you buy me a beer. And I’ll probably also be hungry.

Will somebody please tell me what the hell’s happening with the Silverton Jubilee? Happy birthdays to Jacqui, Shane & Davis. Hug your mother for me. •



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