Destination Durango

The Del McCoury Band

by Lindsay Nelson

One of the many things one must sacrifice in order to live in an out-of-the-way little hamlet such as Durango is the ability to attend concerts by our favorite artists. Or, to be exact, not without spending two days, a couple of tanks of gas and our dignity when asking favors from bare acquaintances in the way of rooms, couches or floors on which to sleep. Every other week there are excellent concerts playing in Denver, Boulder, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, even Flagstaff and sometimes Farmington. Ozzfest? Four-hour car trip. Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, Old 97s and Devotchka at Redrocks on Aug. 3? Six-hour car trip, each way, but the tickets are only $35! How is it possible, then, that we pay more than that to see a Johnny Cash impersonator in Durango? (No offense, CCH, I’m sure it was a great show.)

Then again, why should we expect to see big ticket artists coming through our town of 16,000? No one in Chadron, Neb., expects to see Gillian Welch on a Friday night downtown; not even our friends in Walsenburg would bet on a visit from Wilco. The answer lies again in the peculiarly outsized ego of Durango and its denizens. This metro-size self-image is often reinforced by the occasional appearance of the likes of Willie Nelson and Steve Earle. Most of Durango’s live music appreciators with the cash to spare drove 2½ hours to Telluride last weekend for the non-sold-out Bob Dylan show (along with a few of you hipsters who only went for My Morning Jacket). Two well-known performers in the American adult contemporary/folk scene are playing this weekend at the Fort Lewis College Concert Hall. And so, the point of all this might be that there is still great live music available to the willing and able, sometimes right outside our front door; sometimes it’s a few hundred miles outside our paper routes. If you go, you’ve got another reason to think highly of yourself – unlike those spoiled city dwellers, you have to work hard for your fun.

As promised, the Community Concert Hall stage will play host to two well-known musicians this weekend. Friday night it’s a KSUT radio benefit show with singer-songwriter and performer extraordinaire Patty Griffin, with special guest Scott Miller, playing solo without his band, The Commonwealth. Patty Griffin, not to be confused with Patty Larkin or Nanci Griffith, (though I do it all the time), is a Grammy-nominated songwriter and singer with a great new record of original songs called “Children Running Through.” Her new collection of songs “maintain a timelessly truthful resonance that echoes a variety of styles, most notably the classic R&B and gospel music thathave long been a source of inspiration for Griffin,” says her promotional material. And no doubt it’s true; since 1996 she has been winning new fans with her gifted songwriting and soulful, pure voice. Her guest, Scott Miller, plays with The Commonwealth and formerly led the Tennessee band V-Roys. His band’s music is in the area of Southern rock, more Virginia than Alabama, and his solo guitar work is excellent. Purchase tickets to see Patty Griffin with Scott Miller online at or stop by the box office. The doors open Friday at 7 p.m. for a social hour and silent auction benefiting KSUT; the show starts at 8 p.m., and you don’t have to cross county or state lines – what a deal!

On Sunday night, the Concert Hall presents the Del McCoury Band, one of America’s best known and most-lauded bluegrass bands. The Del McCoury Band has become a major force in bringing bluegrass to a wider audience, (sorry, grass-haters) and the band regularly draws standing-room-only crowds that force an interesting mix of subcultures to coexist and perhaps even find love. McCoury and the band have won more International Bluegrass Music Association awards than any other in the genre’s history, including nine “Entertainer of the Year” honors. The individual band members are known for their fierce musicianship and a relaxed friendliness. You just can’t argue with that kind of reputation. Again, without buying two tanks of gas and driving all night, you can see the famous Del McCoury Band this Sunday night at 8.

It’s not always a bad thing to travel a moderate distance to see a cool band in a funky, out-of-the-way town that’s not your home. The Hollywood Bar in Dolores continues to offer a great show every month this summer, and Saturday night is another gem in the string – Australian rockabilly band Wild Turkey takes the stage Saturday at 9 p.m. One of the longest running rockabilly and psychobilly acts in the southern hemisphere, Wild Turkey recently celebrated its 18th birthday as a band with the release of its fourth CD, “Devil Ridin’ Shotgun.” The band is in the U.S. for a tour of the Southwest, including a wild weekend at Bo Huff’s Rockabilly and Kustom Car Party in Utah (now that sounds like a party!). Tickets are only $5, so you can afford to drive to Dolores for this one. Things are a lot more relaxed over there, and no one will laugh at your psychobilly thrash dance moves.

Free is a word we all like to hear, and on Wednesday you can enjoy a classic yet entertaining American film for the low price of nothing. As the free summer movie series at the Concert Hall comes to an end, don’t miss your chance to watch the hilarious and generally inappropriate Chevy Chase movie “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation,” portions of which were filmed in Durango. The screening starts at 8:30 p.m.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I think I’m going to cry. The man who has kept Durango rocking since 1982 – a man of style, substance and wit – my boss and friend, Bob Ledger, will handle his last citizen complaint, write a final memo to the City Council, take one more phone call from the newspaper, and call it a day on Wednesday. We’re going to miss you, Bob. Who’s going to tell us how the cows eat the cabbage? •



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January 26, 2024
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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows