Grade-A Chuck, Gourds and Prophets

The Gourds

by Chris Aaland

I’m a sucker for local DIY rock bands. Groups like the Lawn Chair Kings, Freeman Social, Pinhead and Aftergrass not only fill in the spaces between national-touring artists, they set the bar high in terms of our expectations for out-of-town acts. Durango’s a scene. Sure, it’s not Austin in the ’70s, Athens in the ’80s or Seattle in the ’90s, but it’s a scene nonetheless. Its core is part Minutemen, part Bill Monroe and part Hank Williams, with classical, jazz, blues and hip hop edges.

The local group that brings the most honky-tonk to the party is Montezuma County’s Beautiful Loser Society. Whatever snake oil they’ve sold, I’ve bought it.

Ever since Chuck Barry unleashed his sparse, earthy, solo debut, “Beautiful Losers,” in 2001, dropouts, drunks and lonely hearts across the region have clamored for a follow-up by his band, the Beautiful Loser Society. The Losers obliged earlier this summer with their first release as a band, “Aim Low.” The songs are 100 percent Grade-A Chuck – born in desert dirt, swamp mud and the sticky stuff that films the barroom floor. Barry is a hillbilly Faulkner for these troubled times, while the Losers are the perfect outfit to paint the musical landscape behind his words. Hank himself would be proud of “License to Cry,” while rockers like “Baby’s Been Drinkin’” and “Delta Shine” go straight to the source, where country, rock, boogie, blues and R&B sit next to one another at the same bar.

Don’t take my word for it. The Beautiful Loser Society crawls into the Dolores River Brewery at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. The brewery is located at 100 S. 4th St., in Dolores. While you’re there, try their ESB or other tasty brews.

Tonight (Thursday) offers two national acts that appear on my favorite record label, Yep Roc. It’s the home of dozens of rock, alt-country and bluegrass bands, Grammy-winning singer-songwriters, and other artists who push the envelope and keep music alive.

If you’re lucky, you’ve got a ticket to see the certain to sell-out Gourds show at the Summit tonight. It’s billed as a 9 p.m. start, but every Summit show I’ve attended tends to start a good hour later than expected. The Gourds play the best of today’s Texas music. Bury their nine albums (10 if you count the impossible-to-find “Growin’ a Beard” soundtrack) in a time capsule, and 100 years from now you’ll uncover what American roots music was in the ’90s and ’00s – a blend of rock, country, blues, Cajun, Latin, bluegrass, folk and punk, with more than a hint of cultural backlash to the Bush years and Evangelical rule in their home state.

Didn’t get a Gourds ticket? Cross the street and see Chuck Prophet at 9 p.m. tonight in a Durango Acoustic Music production at the Abbey Theatre. Rolling Stone called him a “streetwise city kid with an eye for the country,” an accurate description of a guy who broke onto the alt-country scene when it was still called cow-punk in the early ’80s with a band called Green on Red. Eight years and eight albums of cosmic country and paisley psychedelia later, he strolled down rock’s dark side and battled a crack cocaine addiction before finally landing on his feet, sobering up and unleashing a maelstrom of critically acclaimed albums. He’s played guitar for Warren Zevon, Jonathan Richman and Cake, toured with Lucinda Williams and co-wrote all of the songs on Alejandro Escovedo’s new masterpiece, “Animal.” Prophet’s the real deal, but it’s a shame that his first trip to the area finds him busking across College Drive from the Gourds. They share similar influences, only the Gourds have already built their local following thanks to seven or eight past performances here.

Chuck Prophet

Warm up for either (or neither) the Gourds or Prophet by seeing the blues and rock of Tumblin’ Dice at 5:30 p.m. tonight at El Patio. Or head out to Bodo Park for this week’s Ska-B-Q, featuring music by the Freeman Social at 5 p.m. Bubba, Kati and Mike have played their hard-driving brand of rock ’n’ roll in these parts since 2005.

For more than three decades, Asleep at the Wheel has championed the Western swing of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys. Along the way, they’ve won nine Grammys, been named “Best Country & Western Band” by Rolling Stone and “Touring Band of the Year” by the Country Music Academy. More than 90 performers have walked through the band’s revolving door, and it’s touring outfit generally includes eight to 11 musicians, playing instruments that range from guitar, bass and fiddle to steel guitar and saxophone. Frontman Ray Benson and crew take the stage of the Community Concert Hall at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The highly-acclaimed rap duo Eyedea & Abilities take over the Abbey Theatre for an all-ages show at 10 p.m. Sunday. Eyedea is a rapper best known for his battle and freestyle skills, having won Battle Blaze (aired on HBO). He also performs under the name Oliver Hart, with his freestyle group Face Candy and his alternative rock band Carbon Carousel. He made the jump from battle emcee with the release of his debut album, “First Born,” with DJ Abilities. Abilities has won three DMC awards.

Juana La Capilla headlines the 2nd Ave. Arts Festival at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Durango Arts Center, then brings its globally infused Southwestern rock and Latin groove to Steamworks at 10 p.m. that same night.

In addition to Thursday’s Gourds show, the Summit also hosts groovin’ dance music from DJ Fat P & Benjamin K on Friday and the acoustic blues and gospel of Blues Old Stand & the Reverend Ebenezer Jenkins on Wednesday.

Last week, I wrote about the Irish Embassy, a new alternative to drinking and dining in Durango. Sadly, its co-owner and creative inspiration, Mick Ward, died last Saturday after suffering a heart attack while hiking near Silverton. Ward, 57, will be remembered at a traditional Irish wake at the Embassy at 5 p.m. Friday.

This week’s Top Shelf list offers one word to Mick: Slàinte.

Once you watched the small free birds fly? E-mail me at



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows