Mega-mullet, the Earl and in honor of Hoyt

Earl Scruggs 

by Chris Aaland

Hoyt Axton gets a bum rap. My buddy Jerry McBride, whom I consider quite knowledgeable of all things music related, used to call up my “Cask Strength” radio show and chide my former co-host, Nathaniel Miller, that Hoyt was too countrypolitan for our high-test Western mix. Others point to his appearances in less-than-classics like “Gremlins” and both “Buried Alive” flicks, or his never-ending TV cameos in “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

Let’s get one thing straight: Hoyt Axton was a badass. Americana/country singer Katy Moffatt, who sang backup on a couple of Hoyt’s tours, once told me that he would drive down the road at 100 miles per hour in his bus – usually with a tequila bottle in hand. After suffering a stroke in 1995, he was busted in his Montana home for possession of a pound of marijuana. The guy lived out his battles with cocaine and booze in his songs.

Perhaps no other band paid greater tribute to Hoyt (or earned him more money) than Three Dog Night, which sold millions of copies of “Joy to the World” and “Never Been to Spain.” Three Dog Night shares the spotlight with Aussie classic rockers Little River Band in a mega-mullet bill at Ignacio Bike Week at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Sky Ute Casino’s pavilion parking.

Bike Week also includes free music from scores of local bands, including Formula 151, Ralph Dinosaur, the Kirk James Blues Band, the Chills, Jelly Belly Boogie Band, Steel Rodeo, Fuzzy Killing Machine, Oatey Paste and a battle of the bands with a $2,000 prize. A biker train, biker bull-riding, kid’s mutton busting, arm wrestling, tattoo contests and more add to the festivities. Visit for schedules and the rest of the dirt.

No doubt some of those bikers will ride on down to Farmington tonight (Thursday) for legendary country rebel David Allan Coe, who brings his tattoos and scars to Gators for an 8 p.m. gig. Rednecks, hippies and bikers from across the Four Corners will flock to the Charmington dive to see the original outlaw.

The week’s can’t-miss event is the 13th annual Four Corners Folk Festival, which runs from Friday through Sunday atop Reservoir Hill in Pagosa Springs. If you see just one set during the weekend, make sure it’s Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends at 7 p.m. Sunday. The 84-year-old invented Scruggs-style bluegrass banjo, honed his chops with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys the same year that World War II ended, teamed with singer/guitarist Lester Flatt for more than 20 years in Flatt & Scruggs, then broke away ever so slightly from his bluegrass roots to embrace rock, country and folk in the Earl Scruggs Review. This past February, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 50th annual Grammy Awards.

The Four Corners Folk Festival is no one-trick pony; its lineup also includes the Infamous Stringdusters, Punch Brothers (featuring mandolin wunderkind Chris Thile), the Waifs, the Wilders, Crooked Still, Ollabelle, the Belleville Outfit, the Greencards, Bearfoot and more. Visit for tickets, pricing and a full schedule.

If you don’t want to drive to Pagosa, Ignacio or Farmington for music this week, local options abound. The Summit’s offerings include a “Revenge of the Nerds” back-to-school bash with DJs NoEgo and Mateo on Thursday; Elizabethan Report, a high-energy funk group from Pittsburgh on Friday; Albuquerque-based funk band Felonious Groove Foundation on Saturday; and an alt-country/rock bill on Sunday featuring Memphis indie/folk/rock artist Cory Branan, Drag the River alumni Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass and local heroes the Lawn Chair Kings.

Rumor has it Ska’s new brewery in Bodo Park is a just handful of days away from opening. This week’s Ska-B-Q kicks off at 5 p.m. tonight at the current Turner Drive location. Jonezy will spin punk vinyl and warns people to “prepare to slam dance on beer-soaked asphalt.” Bart’s New York Deli brings the grub.

I’m always amazed at the bar tab I can run up at El Patio. Larry Carver & Jack Ellis play duo sets at El Patio at 5:30 p.m. tonight and 1 p.m. Saturday, then make a rare appearance with their four-piece Ellis-Carver Band at 8 p.m. Saturday – certainly a nod to the Ignacio Bike Week crowd.

Wanna be a DJ? KDUR holds its DJ application meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Blue & Gold Room of the College Union Building. Community members play a vital role in KDUR’s on-air diversity. Visit for more knowledge.

Tickets went on sale this week for an Oct. 19 date by the Edgar Winter Group at the Community Concert Hall. A poster from Winter’s 1991 Abbey Theatre date still hangs in my music room.

In honor of Hoyt Axton, this week’s Top Shelf list recalls 10 versions of Hoyt Axton songs made famous by other artists:

10. “Greenback Dollar,” Kingston Trio. In 1963, the folk legends scored one of their biggest hits ever with Hoyt’s most famous folk-era song.

9. “No No Song,” Ringo Starr. The funny Beatle’s version isn’t half as hilarious as Hoyt’s, which featured a priceless cameo from Cheech & Chong during their heyday.

8. “Sweet Misery,” John Denver. A great songwriter in his own right, Deutschendorf always had a keen ear for others’ work.

7. “Lightning Bar Blues,” Brownsville Station. From the same album (Yeah!) that spawned “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” Cub Koda and crew rocked Hoyt like no other.

6. “Snowblind Friend,” Steppenwolf. The Wolf almost made Hoyt as much whiskey money as Three Dog Night did.

5. “Evangelina,” Ronnie McCoury. Del’s boy bluegrasses the hell out of this ode to south-of-the-border lust.

4. “Never Been to Spain,” Waylon Jennings. From “Ladies Love Outlaws,” the 1972 effort that sparked country music’s outlaw movement.

3. “Greenback Dollar,” the Johnnys. The Aussie cowpunk band was inspired by the Gun Club and X. Their 1987 version unashamedly slapped the Kingston Trio silly.

2. “Joy to the World,” Three Dog Night. The song of the year in 1971, it ruled the pop charts for six weeks.

1. “The Pusher,” Steppenwolf. First released on their self-titled album in 1968, it later appeared in the opening scene of “Easy Rider.” •

Tired of waking up on the floor? E-mail me at


Tired of waking up on the floor? E-mail me at





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