Telluride, the renaissance and Albino

by Lindsay Nelson

The Summer Solstice is here today, June 21, offering the longest stretch of daylight we’ll see all year, and leaving us to ponder – why does summer officially begin on the day when long days start to die? Starting tomorrow, the sun will disappear from view just a little bit earlier every night; before you know it you’ll be fleecing up for the walk to your car in the gloaming at 4:30 p.m. Gives me the shivers. But for now, the heat is on, the streets are crowded and the locals’ dining specials have entered summer hibernation. As uncool as it may be to acknowledge the need to buy gasoline and drive your combustion-engine vehicle around, there are reasons to be glad you’ve got wheels this season: When Durango gets you down, you needn’t look far for a little change of pace and some interesting varieties of fun.

Farthest afield (111 miles) is the legendary and some would say infamous Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Relive the ’90s and indulge in sun-worship on the solstice with Adam Duritz and the boys of Counting Crows. I hope they play “Long December.” My personal highlights, if I were attending, would be: Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss & Union Station, the Avett Brothers, Los Lobos, and, yes, Counting Crows. By now, we all know that the festival known as simply “Bluegrass” operates under something of a misnomer, seeing as how the biggest acts on the bill are often pop and rock acts. The obligatory mando-bands are still heartily sprinkled into the lineup, and for broad-spectrum music lovers, it’s the place to be. Unless you’re agoraphobic.

For only 27 miles’ worth of gas, (or 27 cruel uphill miles on your road bike, or a chancy hitch-hike in Merlin robes) you can tool over to Mancos for the 3rd annual Mancos Renaissance Faire, Saturday and Sunday at Cottonwood Park (sounds lovely, doesn’t it?) Send your kids to Page School, compete in light or heavy weaponry combat tournaments, dance to some gypsy and Celtic music and watch a human chess game on Saturday, capping the night with the Asa Fire Tribe. Sunday’s highlight is the costume awards and royal court procession. Throughout the weekend, you might be subject to such unorganized tomfoolery as knife-throwing, roving minstrels, guerilla juggling, entertaining gypsies and Vikings, “mud theater” and village outcasts in stocks. The whole event is free and open to everyone; make your own costume and you could win a prize. Come and see what the Society for Creative Anachronism is really all about.

Closest to home, assuming you live in or near Durango, is the first-ever Durango Rocks! Summerfest, all day Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Brought to you by the City of Durango, it’s a mixture of an outdoor music festival, a field day and that staple of Durango culture, the beer garden. Admission and all activities are free; you’ll need money for the beer, food and crafts vendors. Local musicians Lacey Black & Red Rhapsody, Formula 151 and Ralph Dinosaur will headline the music stage, and the Rocky Mountain Rockettes, Third Ave Dance Co. and the Durango

Gymnastics Academy will provide entertainment between each band with live dance and tumbling performances. Tire out the kids with the free bounce house, steep pitch slide and water games. Daring individuals can experience the thrill of the quad-bungee trampoline for a small fee. Young children will enjoy free games and activities, including rock painting, a balloon toss, sack races and tug-of-war. A variety of local food and beverage vendors will be on hand, including Durango’s fine local breweries. Local youth baseball, lacrosse and soccer teams will play games and provide demonstrations on the small baseball field throughout the day. Grab the kids, leave the dogs, and play the day away.

Don’t stay up past 9 p.m.? Broke? Free, early evening entertainment on Main in the summer centers around El Patio on Friday and Saturday nights. If you can take the heat (margaritas help), head up there for high-altitude blues-rock with guitar duo Larry Carver and Jack Ellis Friday evening from 5-9 p.m. Saturday night it’s The Lindells: Declassified Band, playing roots, rock, desert surf, folk-noir and wicked grass. Free summer concerts at the Community Concert Hall are another good way to hear some tunes during these long evenings; tonight the Hall presents local country-rock band Midnight Backhand, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Don’t like sunlight? After the sun goes down, there’s always something happening at the downtown bars. The Summit, consistent provider of live music of many stripes – most of them loud – offers world-funk outfit Delta Nove on Friday night. Coming to you all the way from Long Beach, Calif., this 9-year-old band rocks the dancefloor with an International blend of funk, Brazilian samba, afro-beat, world, jazz, ska, rock and reggae. Brace yourself for more afrobeat on Saturday night, with a 12-piece ensemble called Albino. It’s a little tough to picture on the tiny Summit stage, but this band boasts “high-energy grooves and an explosive stage show thick with hypnotic percussion, a heavy horn section, African dance, outrageous costumes, and infectious group choreography.” Sounds boss.

An unfortunate e-mail glitch prevented us from bringing you the Top 10 records of last week, but the situation has been remedied. Once again, it never ceases to amaze me that one little town can have almost as many people who love Paul McCartney as those who dig Marilyn Manson. What a world.

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