Men of Vegas, the circus and Flecktones

by Lindsay Nelson

Arrrrgghh. That’s all I’ve got to say about this year’s piratical Snowdown. I remember when dressing up like a pirate didn’t involve eyeliner or designer leather boots. Words and phrases like “wench,” “scalawag,” “hearties,” “maties,” “walk the plank” and “avast” were fun when Johnny Depp said them (the first few times, anyway), but they somehow lose their luster when slurred from the maws of many a drunken man and lady of a weekday evening. Which begs the question: Why does everyone else have time and freedom from “jobs” to spend an entire week drinking heavily day and night, playing games at 2 p.m. on a Thursday, and living in the same dirty costume for days on end? It must be jealousy that breeds my perpetual distaste for the all-consuming vortex that is Snowdown. That time I was in the singles auction and no one bought me … I just never really got over it, I guess.

Another sort of meat market rolls into town ahead of the usual one this year. Yes, it’s true: The Men of Las Vegas Male Revue descends upon the Wild Horse Saloon tonight for a ladies-only spectacle of man-sluttery. In the interest of journalistic accuracy, a quick perusal of the men on offer with this traveling sweaty-thong circus revealed a dazzling array of six-packing, hairless, oily specimens. You’ve got your one hairy-chested cowboy type, that might go over especially well at the saloon. The show starts at 8 and it’s only $10 at the door. Bring your Sani-Wipes and plenty of singles (bills, that is).

Instead of attending the usual tomfoolery associated with the festival of snow, I strongly suggest that you grab a few freaks and caravan over to Mancos on Saturday night for the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus, the ingenious and disturbed brainchild of community radio station KSJD in Cortez. It’s a rare opportunity for local folks to fly their freak flags and reveal talents only their past lovers may have known. A psychedelic rock band from Albuquerque, the Dirty Novels, plays on the main stage, along with Troupe Verde’s belly dancing extravaganza, nationally ranked juggler Erin Stephens, who will perform and give a juggling workshop, and an acrobat troupe accompanied by a gypsy band. Organizer and publicist extraordinaire Rosie Carter says, “the sideshows feature fortune tellers, ze french portrait artists, pie-in-the-face toss, the opportunity to have your photo taken with rats of unusual size, the bearded lady, a mermaid, a tattooed lady, face/body painting for kids and adults, scary/happy/evil jugglers, scary/happy/evil clowns, and much more circus craziness!”

If your kids aren’t deathly afraid of clowns, bring them along – it’s an all-ages show, and kids under 12 are free. Everyone is encouraged to join the circus by coming in costume – could be the wild man of Borneo, a snake lady, trapeze artist, evil midget? Watch an episode of “Carnivale” on HBO for inspiration and you can’t go wrong. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. at the Mancos Opera House, 136 West Grand, in Mancos. Tickets are available at the door only. Beware random mimes!

Yes, there’s a lot of bluegrass in this town, and a lot of bluegrass lovers. If you’re one of ‘em, you ought to know that semi-renowned, mostly local string band the Wayword Sons has just released its first record and has embarked upon a winter tour to promote it. The hometown show is this Saturday, down the Summit, ’round about 9 or 10 o’clock. What is it about mountains that bring out the banjo-love among us? The Sons’ “Poor Boy’s Delight” showcases the tender-hearted, good-time rounder sensibility of we hill-and-valley dwellers, and it’s mighty pleasing. The songs of Benny “Burle” Galloway (and a few by Anders Beck, Travis Book and Robin Davis) range in

tone from heartbroke love songs (“Bound for Tennessee” and “How Far I’d Fall for You”) to nostalgic old-time tunes like “Nothin’ to It.” It’s a refreshing change from much of the newgrass music of the day, a collection of songs focusing more on words and feelings than on frenetic, virtuosic string playing. This is bluegrass you can slow dance to with your sweetheart; maybe, if you’re lucky, she’ll wear a red cotton dress like the gal on the CD cover.

More and different sorts of blue music will be played Wednesday at the Community Concert Hall, where Bela Fleck & the Flecktones play a show. Hear the curious combo of drumitar, saxophone, bass guitar and banjo from this Grammy-nominated band that bills itself as “blu-jazz” and truly defies categorization. The show starts at 7 p.m., and as of deadline-time, a limited selection of tickets were still available, so act fast.

I’ve seldom been so disappointed as I was last summer when the dozen-year-old Silverton Jubilee festival died in the arms (or at the hands) of its organizer. The three-day outdoor festival was the best around, for it was mellow, unpretentious, cheap and a darn good time. Hope springs eternal, however, and this year some brave folks up there to the north are embarking on a new festival, the Silverton Jamboree. This first year it’ll just be one day of outdoor performances, with downtown events fleshing out the weekend. Chiefly responsible for this effort is the Silverton radio station, KSJC. They’re holding a fund-raiser in Durango next Thurs., Feb. 8, at Steamworks. For a very modest cover ($3), you can enjoy the Lawn Chair Kings and generate a little cash and buzz for what we hope will become another great early-summer festival in the high country.

May I suggest a theme for Snowdown 2010? “I’m Rich, You’re Not.” Everyone could dress up in swanky mountain-casual gear, driving their rugged $60,000 vehicles, drink expensive wine served by poor, semi-homeless locals and discuss their latest real estate venture. Instead of a joke-down, they could trade tirades bemoaning how Durango has changed since they arrived from California, and how too much public money is spent on public libraries and parks and not enough on preserving the open space across the road from their $1.2 million rustic cabin in the valley. Snowdown Committee, take note.

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