Changes, The Platters and the vibraphone


by Lindsay Nelson

You know that song, the one everybody knows the first words to but we all have to fake our way through the rest? Goes something like: “Ch-ch-ch-changes … la di blah blah da … ” It tends to pop into your head when you’re hit over with a surprising shift in reality, such as the news that an old shed in the historic district was torn down or that a new traffic light was installed and another bank opened down the street and someone tells you the town pool has been closed for the better part of a decade. You stop, look around, and ask yourself – how did I get here? Who moved my cheese? And, where the bleep is my towel? Sometimes, change sneaks up on us like a nasty little virus, incubating in moist, dark places until it’s ready to jump up and knock us down. Friends move on (in the classic Durango way of somehow forgetting to ever return your phone calls because they’ve met new, cooler people – or sometimes they actually move away), jobs come and go, new regimes are given a mandate for tyranny, and businesses come and go by the month. Look at the local bars – I mean, everyone knows the only thing standing between Durango’s average folk and insanity is the small but lively pool of nighttime social establishments. But now, the West Side Bar & Grill, née Solid Muldoon, is closed and up for sale; Scoot ’n’ Blues is ambiguously dark; the veteran night scene, The Summit, is for sale in the classifieds, and also on the block is the new end-of-the-line bar, The Lost Dog. Where does that leave the in-need-of-distraction masses? A dwindling supply of venues, a shrinking mating pool – what’s next, inbreeding?

But, amid all the unwelcome and unforeseen changes, there remains a golden rim to all this bitter negativity. Just as our world can shift in unhappy ways in the blink of an eye, so often does the best stuff come out of the blue. A new opportunity arrives out of the clear blue and instead of glumly asking, “How did I get here?” we do so with glee. May all your latest changes be gleeful, and all your friends keep answering their phones.

Among the entertainment venues that are still operating, there’s a nice slate of shows for the weekend. First on my list is Friday night’s performance by Austin alt-country band The Gourds. Touring behind a new record – “Noble Creatures” –

this rollicking, inventive band with a tinge of Cajun depth is always a best bet for great music and even greater fun for a night out on the town. For the uninitiated, the Gourds have never been much on sentiment. Since the band started defining Gourds Music, as it has come to be known, with their debut record “Dem’s Good Beeble” in 1997 and the quirky “Stadium Blitzer” in 1998, they have chugged through America fueled by music and a near-pathological need for a good time. Songwriters Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith have written the most dense, reference-laden country songs of the last 10 years and almost single-handedly made a place for deep thought in a genre that has room for “Honky Tonk Badonkadonks” and boots-up-asses. However, they have, for the most part, shied away from the tear-in-my-beer ballads that made country music a commercial powerhouse over the last 50 years. And you, the audience, reaps the benefits of their outsider status. Catch the Gourds on Friday night at the Abbey Theatre, around about 9:30 p.m.

Also Friday night it’s The Beautiful Losers playing the Billygoat Saloon in Gem Village. Conveniently located close to Bayfield, it’s your go-to joint for cheap beer, greasy food and a darned good time. Check out this Montezuma County band for some fine country-rock.


Saturday night brings a nostalgic nod to rock ’n’ roll’s heyday as the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College welcomes a triple bill of oldies with Cornell Gunter’s Coasters, The Platters and The Marvelettes. Jump back to the 1950s, when rhythm and harmony ruled the airwaves with this show suitable for all generations.

We all know Cornell Gunter’s Coasters, who have proved themselves as the supreme comedians of rock ’n’ roll with such hits as “Down In Mexico,” “Searching,” “Yakety Yak” and “Charlie Brown.” Revered as the most popular vocal group of the 1950s, The Platters first hit the charts with “Only You” and continued that streak with four No. 1 songs and 16 gold records. Perennial favorites include “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “The Great Pretender” and “Twilight Time.” The Marvelettes, Motown’s first successful female vocal group, is most noted for recording “Please Mister Postman,” the first Motown record to cross over from R&B and reach the top of the pop charts. During their heyday, the Marvelettes scored 19 Top 40 R&B singles and 10 Top 40 pop singles, including “Don’t Mess with Bill” and “Beechwood 4-5789.” The Marvelettes set the precedent for later Motown girl groups such as Martha and the Vandellas and The Supremes. Showtime is 7: 30 p.m., and tickets are on sale now at the CCH box office, online and in person.

Cure your Tuesday blues with a performance by five-time Grammy winner vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist Makato Ozone, musical collaborators for nearly two decades. The two have mastered the virtuoso duet resulting in what the Los Angeles Times calls “jazz improvisation driven by musical intelligence, delivered with utmost clarity, underscored with subtle, implied swing.” OK, but what is a vibraphone, you may ask? It’s like a xylophone, but made of metal instead of wood and equipped with a control pedal like a piano. The vibe is a common member of jazz ensembles, and virtuosos of this instrument are treasured indeed. Catch this great jazz duo at the Concert Hall on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.

If you’re still bored this week, call in to Bill O’Reilly’s satellite radio show and ask him about Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

If you like your entertainment bland and safe, write me!