The big D visits Durango

by Lindsay Nelson

Ron Burgundy once said that “diversity is an old, old wooden ship.” Mr. Burgundy was wrong on that score, but that’s what made him such a great “Anchorman.”

Not an old, old wooden ship, diversity actually means having a variety of something, instead of many of the same kind. It doesn’t have to be a political buzzword used derisively in “Mallard Fillmore” and touted tirelessly by feathery-strokery mavens of political correctness. The big D can be good. It behooves us to acknowledge that we don’t all like the same kinds of music, movies, books or chewing gum. Different strokes for different folks abound out on the town this week, with a little something for almost every taste. Or, at least, more than most people would expect of the worst-dressed little mountain town in Colorado.

First up, it’s the Wayword Sons, performing Friday at the Summit. The Sons as a group is relatively new, but the fingers and throats behind its jammy, lyrical, stoney bluegrass music are familiar to regional scenesters. Led by Benny “Burle” Galloway, one of the fabled figures on the modern, mountain-town bluegrass scene, the Sons also count as a member Durango dobro demon Anders Beck, formerly of Broke Mountain. Those other guys are Gregg Andrulis and Pete Kartsounes. If you really want to know what it’s all about, don’t take my word for it: Just go to and “Ask Burle.” He’ll answer any damn question your baked-out mind can cook up.

If bluegrass ain’t your bag but you still prefer your performers to wield instruments with strings in front of a guy with sticks and a snare, check out the Lawn Chair Kings on Saturday night. Make it a weekend excursion, because they’re playing the Pride of the West bar in Silverton. You might as well go now before all the New Yorkers descend on the poor little town in search of epic powder (thanks, New York Times Travel Section!). Now that the Kings have a grown up, studio-produced CD to lay out by the stage, they’ve gotten themselves a website and a concert poster that really conveys the essence of the band’s persona: retro-redneck-ironic-rock. It’s about time someone immortalized the derelict trailer on the Mesa that has been a delightful disturbance to wealthy newcomers for many a year. So bring your -0-degree bag and your stocking cap and head on up to Silverton to see the suburban cowboys ride the proverbial mechanical mountain goat.

Two Sunday night options cater to two pretty different musical tastes. In Durango at the Abbey Theatre it’s a major hip-hop show, with The Coup and Mr. Lif. The Coup sounds like the product of a Prince, P-Funk and Snoop Dogg love-in – funky beats with lyrics both intelligent and vulgar. The group is promoting its new record, “Pick a Bigger Weapon.” Co-billed is Mr. Lif, whose style is more classic hip-hop – all about the rhyme, backed by a simple beat, delving into political topics of wealth, privilege and social ills. Entertainment Weekly calls him “Boston’s reflective rhyme warrior … one of alt-hip hop’s hottest commodities.” I think Mr. Lif might take issue with the label of “commodity,” but hey – you are paying $25 to see him and the Coup, so why argue semantics?

Far on the other side of the stylistic coin is a performance by folksinger and songwriter Catie Curtis at the Millwood Junction in Mancos. She is also from Boston, and also writes about social and political issues but her style is slightly different than the dred-ed Mr. Lif’s. Stripped-down arrangements and Curtis’ richly textured vocals direct the focus squarely to the words of her songs, and rightly so – she is an award-winning veteran songwriter with a dedicated fan base that will likely be out in force at the Millwood. Local singer-songwriter Melissa Crabtree opens the Sunday show at 7 p.m.

Speaking of hard-hitting chicks, The Durango Fury, a local all-women’s traveling ice hockey team hosts the Telluride Box Canyon Beavers in a two-game showdown this weekend. Game times are 8:45 p.m. Saturday and 9:45 a.m. Sunday. Catch the Fury’s first home games of the year – you won’t get another chance until February. Both games happen at Chapman Hill Ice Rink and admission is free.

In keeping with the two-week-old tradition of mentioning film-related things in the latter portion of this page, let us reflect for a moment on the DIFF fund-raiser tonight. The Durango Independent Film Festival, led by the folks who saved the Durango Film Festival from withering into oblivion last year, will be holding its annual fund-raiser tonight from 5-9 p.m. Tickets are available at the Abbey Theatre and Magpies for $30 and will be $35 at the door. This year’s theme is “The Art of Film,” and the evening will feature works of art by local artists that will be available for auction. Norton’s Catering provides the noshables (gotta have that artichoke-green chili dip) and Ska Brewing, world-renowned brewers of the almost-famous DIFF Beer, will keep the suds flowing. There will be a screening of the short film “Cross Your Eyes Keep Them Wide,” with a live auction following the film. Music will be provided by the Still Water Steel Drum Band. This is your chance to get in good with the filmies so that one day you may be considered hip.

Including today, there are 25 shopping days until Christmas. Downtown Durango was like Chicago on Friday afternoon, or at least more like the July 4th weekend than a November weekday. It’s great to see people coming downtown to shop, helping to keep our favorite local merchants in the black. On a broader scale, however, it’s getting tougher every year to avoid the incessant harping to buy stuff for “the holidays.” I’m sure many of us are in the same boat – we want to give nice gifts to our loved ones but we’re not creative enough to handmake anything nice, so we are forced to enter the minefields of the holiday shopping landscape. Even if you bought nothing on Buy Nothing Day, you wouldn’t want to punish your family and friends with your principles, now would you? Like, Mom & Dad buy you a sweet new digital camera and you give them a bundle of twigs you collected in the mountains because you don’t buy into the whole consumerist Zeitgeist, right? ’Tis still better to give ... but maybe put away your credit cards before someone gets hurt. •

In this week's issue...

July 21, 2022
Wildlife success or deal with the devil?

Land swap approved in Southwest Colorado, but not without detractors

July 21, 2022
Tapping out

The latest strategy to save the San Luis Valley's shrinking aquifer: paying farmers not to farm

July 14, 2022
Hey, good environmental news

Despite SCOTUS ruling, San Juan Generating Station plans to shut down