Eating crow and sour grapes

by Ted Holteen

con·trite adj – 1. genuinely and deeply sorry about something; 2. done or said out of a sense of guilt or remorse; 3. deeply ashamed of past sins and determined not to sin in the future.

I guess I’ll never learn. Three months ago, I boldly called for a boycott on our neighbor to the north, Telluride (Vol. 5, #23). It was, at the time, a movement reminiscent of the noble but ultimately ignored isolationist policies put forward by visionaries throughout our nation’s history who bucked the popular trend and called into question our involvement in conflicts from Mexico in 1846 to the most recent unpleasantness in Iraq. Sometimes they were right (Vietnam, in retrospect, could’ve been handled differently), other times maybe not so much (Hitler, it turns out, really was a jerk). My latest gaffe falls somewhere in between, as this weekend’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival has a fresh new look and sound that kind of makes me look stupid. Not the first time, certainly not the last, but I can’t help but feeling a bit like Jan Brady when she decided to be an only child, only to learn that maybe she needed her brothers and sisters more than she ever imagined. For Jan, all her foolish pride cost her was missing out on one backyard sack race. It didn’t prevent her from seeing a lineup that includes Neko Case, the Drive-By Truckers, John Prine and an acoustic evening by the Barenaked Ladies that should actually be pretty cool. All of that, in addition to festival standards like the aforeinsulted Sam Bush and Bela Fleck, Tim & Mollie O’Brien, and John Cowan. As of Monday, there were surprisingly still four-day passes available at or 800-624-2422. As of today, you may be out of luck, but it seems worthwhile to try, even just to catch a day or two of the four-day thing. I don’t think I’m welcome. But just a thought – it would be nice to try to steal a big act or two to play here in town one of these years while they’re in the neighborhood. Something to think about.

All of this leaves me, and probably many of you, looking to re-create that festival atmosphere right here at home. I’ll do my best, starting with Thursday afternoon, when Stellar Interlock will be the featured act at the Ska-BQ starting around 4 p.m. The talented trio will provide background music to drown out even the loudest of small talk, allowing people like me who hate talking to people to enjoy my burger and beer in peace. Free camping is available throughout Bodo Park, unlike the 14 spots made available in Telluride’s Town Park to accommodate the 10,000 or so festivarians. Score one for us!

I got nuthin’ for Friday that’s even remotely akin to a festival, but there’s a hip-hop show at the Summit with Dialogue headlining. It’s not Bonnie Raitt, who will take the stage around the same time, but then again it’s only three bucks. Probably the better deal for the day, all in all.

On Saturday, Durango will not only have the look and feel of a festival, but will in fact have a festival. Beginning at 11 a.m., the second annual Who’s Your Daddy! street thing will close Main Avenue right on up ’til 6 p.m. This “thing” is a full day of entertainment for the whole family, even kids, with music, food and beer from Carvers, bloody Marys (not for kids), root beer, snow cones and tons of strange and exciting activities to exhaust the children and infuriate the volunteers. Parents, did I mention the beer? The music lineup is as follows, in order beginning at 11 a.m.: Sally Shuffield, Hounds of Purgatory, Rock and Rye, Giant’s Dance, and special guests from Paonia, Sweet Sunny South. Further weirdness provided by Professor Monty the Science Guy and other fun people that, on any other day ,would inspire fear in even the most negligent parents.

But this should be fun for everyone involved, and it’s all to benefit the Durango Children’s Museum and the ongoing construction/renovation of the Durango Discovery Museum in that old factory-looking building. You know who benefits from the Telluride festival? Telluride.

Bet you thought I was going to try to pass a Sunday church choir off as Sunday’s surrogate festival fare. Nope. Not that I wouldn’t under most circumstances, but the truth of the matter is that there actually is another festival-esque happening on Sunday afternoon. Which means that you can still go to church and not miss out. If a couple of hours being scolded by a reverend or pastor somehow doesn’t provide you with your daily allowance of guilt and shame, stroll down Main Ave. and catch another crop of shaven-legged bicyclists as they roll through on the first stage of this year’s Ride the Rockies tour. On Sunday morning, the fools will leave Cortez and ride here, where they’ll bunk for the night and then take off Monday for Pagosa Springs. This year, the route will take the riders on a tour of the southern Rockies, dipping down into Chama before heading north again to finish in Canon City next week. While here, diversions include a street dance, beer garden and community dinner, all on Main Avenue somewhere. As most of these human greyhounds seem to live on Clif Bars and spring water, I imagine that the beer garden and dinner are for the benefit of folks like us. Or me, anyway. I don’t even have a bike.

So there you have it, almost. Durango will more than hold its own against Telluride this weekend, but we can go them one better. On Tuesday, while Planet Bluegrass volunteers are still picking up Liggett’s whip-it canisters in Town Park, John Lee Hooker Jr. will be taking the stage at Scoot ‘n Blues. I’ve said before that I actually think Junior has a better sound than his legendary late father, and if you think that’s blasphemy, you’ll have to see him for yourself, then we’ll fight. But you just might end up agreeing with me, as frightening a prospect as that is. Check out his latest CD, “Blues With A Vengeance,” and you’ll see it ain’t your daddy’s (or John’s daddy’s) blues music. Good stuff.

I think I’ll take those bluegrass tickets after all, if you’ve still got ’em. Beware the Swedes – first the World Cup, then the World!