Opening Day, Euforquestra and Freedom Rock

by Chris Aaland

Friday will find me at 20th and Blake for the Colorado Rockies’ home opener. I’ve made the Opening Day pilgrimage with my good friend Steve Miller 13 times in the franchise’s 15 years, missing just the inaugural home game and last year’s opener.

Nothing quite announces the arrival of spring like the first sights, sounds, scents and tastes of Opening Day. Hot dogs, mustard, beer, soft pretzels, roasted peanuts, popcorn – I get goosebumps (and hunger pangs) just thinking about it.

The best part of Opening Day is that all 30 teams have the same dreams and aspirations, regardless of how they finished in the standings a year ago. Did anyone seriously believe last Opening Day that the Rockies could advance to World Series? I bet a few guys in white pinstripes at Coors Field did.

Opening Day usually falls close to the culmination of March Madness. The Final Four kicks off at 4:07 p.m. Saturday with UCLA squaring off against Memphis. Kansas and North Carolina are scheduled to start at 6:47 p.m. Monday’s championship is slated for 7:11 p.m. My bracket still has a chance to win the big bucks if UCLA beats Kansas in the championship. Jayhawk Nation will hold court at Cuckoo’s, and I am sure many other watering holes will be packed.

The Durango Bootlegger’s Society – individually known as Ska, Carvers, Steamworks and Durango Brewing – commemorate the 75th anniversary of the re-legalization of beer in America with the release of its 6th annual Spring Tonic Elixir, a collectively brewed, barrel-aged lager based on a medicinal prohibition-era recipe. Carvers will be transformed into a speakeasy on Monday night with Women’s Temperance activists protesting out front. Local author, historian and FLC professor Duane Smith will entertain the crowd with colorful anecdotes of the area’s brewing history before tapping the cask and kicking off the event. There will be live music as well as a screening of “American Brew.” Proceeds will benefit the Animas History Museum.

Double Chocolate Stout, the latest installment in Ska’s local series, was released in early March. According to the Ska boys, their malt supplier, Breiss, held a contest to celebrate the business’ 130th anniversary. Ska’s brewer, Brad, won and was flown to Wisconsin to roast his own special batch of organic malt in a traditional roaster. Purchase bombers locally until they run out.

KDUR hosts its biggest fund-raiser of the year, the annual Furniture as Art auction, at 5:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday) at the Durango Arts Center. More than 20 local artists have donated their talents. Musical entertainment is provided by Tom and Chad MacCluskey, with Ska beer, hors d’oeuvres and more.

Free music comes to Buckley Park at noon Saturday with blues by Colin Lake & Wellbottom, jam-banders Back of the Bus and local rock outfit Formula 151. Lake, a former FLC student now living in Portland, Ore., won the acoustic blues contest at last year’s Telluride Blues & Brews and turns heads with his unique, Chris Whitley-inspired lap-slide licks.

Back of the Bus also plays the Summit on Friday night. Based out of Telluride, they draw comparisons to Sublime, the Spin Doctors and the Police with their mix of rock, reggae and soul.

One of the most popular bands at last summer’s IndieFest in Pagosa Springs was the afro-beat/reggae band Euforquestra, which returns to the Summit on Saturday. Billed as “world music from middle America,” this seven-piece Iowa band features two saxophones, percussion, steel pans, bass, guitar, keyboards and more.

The Summit hosts still yet even more jam on Sunday with Orange County’s Delta Nove. Expect funk, reggae, Latin and soul from this five-piece.

Steamworks offers a diverse musical mix this week, with DJ Mowgli at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, the electro-pop/funk/rap fusion of Mad Happy at 10 p.m. Friday, and live music from Bigfoot Bridges and The Horde at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Singer-songwriter Jesse Colin Young has been added to the June 4 Beach Boys lineup. If you remember the classic commercial for 1987’s “Freedom Rock” (“Hey man, is that Freedom Rock? Turn it up!”), then you’ll remember Young’s signature tune, “Get Together.” Tickets went on sale last Saturday at

I may have to bust out the dusty “Freedom Rock” CDs for the drive to Coors Field this week. Here are my 10 favorite sports road trips I’ve taken with Miller:

1) NCAA Division II men’s soccer championships, Dec. 2-4, 2005, Wichita Falls, Texas. The Fort brought home the national title and champagne never tasted so sweet. Two meals at Fat McBride’s BBQ and 12-packs of Pearl Light and Schaefer fueled us.

2) The Fumble, AFC Championship Game, Jan. 17, 1988. Earnest Byner’s fumble on the Denver 3-yard line with 65 seconds remaining sealed the 38-33 victory and Elway’s return to the Super Bowl.

3) Game 2, Stanley Cup Finals, June 6, 1996. Peter Forsberg’s hat trick propelled the Avalanche to an 8-1 win en route to a series sweep against Florida.

4) Opening Day, Coors Field, April 25, 1995. Dante Bichette’s 14th inning tater christened Coors Field and an 11-9 win over the Mets.

5) Opening Day, Coors Field, April 4, 2005. Clint Barmes’ walk-off homer in the 9th off Trevor Hoffman led the Rockies to a 10-8 win over the Padres.

6) NCAA Division II women’s volleyball regional tournament, Nov. 9, 2006, Amarillo, Texas. Miller and I drove through the night, arriving at 6 a.m. on the day my wife coached her first-ever NCAA playoff match.

7) FLC vs. Adams State men’s basketball game, Feb. 18, 1989, Alamosa. Eight of us piled into my Jeep Cherokee to go ice-fishing at Smith Reservoir and watch the then-Raiders clinch the RMAC title.

8) Dixie Rotary Bowl, Dec. 2, 2006, St. George, Utah. A second half comeback led the Skyhawks past Dixie St. 24-14 in their first-ever NCAA bowl game. Driving through Colorado City during the height of the Warren Jeffs trial added to the intrigue.

9) Broncos’ regular season finale, Jan. 2, 2005. The Broncos trounced the Colts 33-14 to clinch a Wild Card berth at Invesco Field. Pizza, cannolis and schooners of Coors at the Edgewater Inn topped off an icy day.

10) RMAC women’s basketball playoffs, March 4, 2006, Pueblo. The Skyhawks lost their chance at an automatic NCAA berth when the officials swallowed their whistles at the end of the game. Miller watched as I serenaded the refs on their way to the locker room.

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