Pre-season, Gaelic Storm and One Drop

by Lindsay Nelson

Halloween and the month of October are behind us now, and you know what that means: the gathering storm of holiday frenzy. It starts with that casual outlay of a few early Christmas decorations and holiday card displays at your local merchant, ostensibly so the efficient, forward-thinking gifters among us can get on top of things. This results in a bit of traditional head-shaking over the degree to which Christmas has ballooned into a nonstop commercial onslaught. “I remember when they had to wait until after Thanksgiving!” folks will lament, browsing the holly-scented Yankee candles at Hallmark. “Tsk-tsk. But maybe I’d better buy this darling jolly snowman before they’re all gone… .”

Then, as Thanksgiving draws near, the time for early Christmas shopping and feeling smugly prepared begins to rapidly fade, to be replaced with a growing fear that we will once again be holiday failures. You know, the people who didn’t get the Christmas lights up, never wrote a card or bought hand-made crafts for aunts and grandmas until the week before the Big Day. Today there seems to be so much time for all that holiday preparation – almost two months! – but in terms of real life time (always about four times faster than calendar time), there are no more than three weeks for all the present-shopping, tree-getting, decorating, dress-buying, weight-losing, party-planning, family avoiding, and nerve-calming booze-drinking you will have to do.

My advice? You have two options: 1) decide not to buy into the insanity, keep it simple and enjoy the season in whatever way pleases you, not how Martha Stewart makes you feel you should; 2) get on top of things early and finally, for once in your harried life, be that person – the perfect, jolly, calm and together Christmas superhero. Or, just keep pouring that eggnog and get over it already.

November also begins the season of fund-raiser parties. This month, there are benefits for a slew of worthy charitable causes, from turkey distribution to AIDS research. It’s also the time for house parties of the adult variety – where you’re supposed to wear something nice, drink wine and eat pretty hors ‘d oeuvres while making polite conversation with that middle manager you really can’t stand. It’s the only period in a typical Durango resident’s annual cycle where the need arises for high heels, pantyhose and dresses (or a suit jacket and tie). Try not to spill crab dip on your nice velvet top and you can wear it from your company drinks party to the fund-raising gala and back.

It is even possible to dress nicely when going to music shows, whether there are violins involved or not. Two shows at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College this weekend proffer such opportunities. A special solo acoustic show by guitar virtuoso Tim Reynolds happens Saturday night. Considered “profoundly talented and an underrated master,” Reynolds has been cutting “killer riffs and weaving rock ’n’ roll with funk and soul” since the age of 12, his publicist says. He founded the band TR3 in Charlottesville, Va., and began delving into all sorts of stringed instruments and styles. For most of his career Reynolds traveled under the pop culture radar, though slowly over the last decade he’s gained recognition as an impeccable, highly skilled acoustic musician. His influences are diverse, ranging from Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix to Marilyn Manson and Led Zeppelin. His collaboration and touring with the Dave Matthews Band in recent years has perhaps garnered Reynolds his greatest public notoriety. Be “in the know,” and go see this show; local singer/songwriter Gigi Love opens.

Get plenty of rest after, because you’ll need it for the wildly energetic Gaelic Storm at the Concert Hall on Sunday night. Formed in California by an Irishman and a New Yorker, the band also has an Englishman, a Californian and an Ohioan – truly a melted pot of gold. The band’s reputation as high-stepping, raucous and entirely too much fun is upheld each time they perform. Traditional it’s not – “compelling originals and fresh arrangements steeped in Irish traditional melody and acoustic instrumentation combined with their unique blend of world rhythms” – but could perhaps be described as Irish modern traditionalism. Along with the traditional Irish bodhran, the fiddle and various sorts of pipes and whistles, Gaelic Storm’s members play the didgeridoo, bouzouki, spoons, mandolin, piano and harmonica. Don’t miss this unique and delightful new Irish band.

Short on cash and presentable outfits? Head over to the Summit for your weekend entertainment. Friday night it’s One Drop, a roots rock/reggae band from San Diego that incorporates the California beach culture into what was once a purely Jamaican musical style. One Drop is heavily influenced by both Steel Pulse and The Police and boasts a high-energy, gotta-dance show experience. Intrigued? Check them out at about 9 p.m. Friday.

The next night, Saturday, brings the return of Euforquestra, (you-FORK-estra) perhaps one of the only world-beat ensembles from American’s heartland – Iowa. The self-proclaimed “Afro-Caribbean-Barnyard-Funk” touches on such genres as Afrobeat, Afro-Cuban, samba, soca, funk, reggae and bluegrass. If you’re a fan of blended International musical styles and love you some horns, this is the show for you, again at the Summit.

If you’ve been jonesing for a good folk show, you’ll want to go see Catie Curtis in Mancos at the Millwood Junction on Sunday night. Making her annual pilgrimage through the Southwest, Catie will bring her sublime singing and songwriting to town for an intimate, acoustic performance that just makes you feel good, some deep place inside.

Enjoy your holiday-free moments when you can. “Rudolph, the red-nosed raindeeerrrr…” •

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