Erotic trout, Rapunzel and "Wee Heavies"


by Chris Aaland

For Fort Lewis College students and faculty, spring break means treks to South Padre Island, Rocky Point and Southern California. Like all working staff at FLC, I have to show up to my job during spring break – but not without the prerequisite trip down memory lane.

Back in the early ‘90s when most of my roommates dashed for warmer climes, I packed up wool sweaters, long underwear, fly rods and camping gear and drove north to Utah’s Green River. For me, it meant the chance to fish and camp with an old buddy. Don Tudor was one of my step-dad’s best friends in the ‘70s and became somewhat of a surrogate father to me during my college years – a trout bum, ski bum, river rat, homebuilder, homewrecker and brewmeister living near Oak Creek, Colo. He upped the ante with several coolers full of elk steaks and a variety of ales he had brewed, including a double-cherry stout called “Dogbolter.” An added bonus: We would need to smuggle his malty moonshine into Utah. Trust me, popping the top off a contraband Dogbolter in the Beehive State is one of life’s most cherished memories.

To make a long story short, I caught fish. A lot of fish. I may have even drunk as much beer as my buddies did at South Padre Island. The trade-out – They returned with fish tales about their erotic conquests; I had erotic tales about 20-inch trout. To each his own.

The bad news about spring break is that local concert promoters all but shut down when their audience leaves town. But while national acts are thin this week, local artists step to the plate to deliver the goods.

A three-band bill at the Schoolhouse on Friday night features the Lawn Chair Kings, the Freeman Social and Pinhead. Without classes to miss, college kids won’t have to play hooky to enjoy a day in the snow at DMR. They can chase it down with pizza, cheap beer and a night full of live music. The Lawn Chair Kings continue their ski town tour with a Saturday gig at the Bubble Lounge in Telluride.

For those who choose to stay in town on Friday night, Jack Ellis & Larry Carver bring their high-altitude blend of blues, rock and folk to the 8th Ave. Tavern at 8 p.m. The duo also plays at Rubio’s in Aztec at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Steamworks hosts improv and opening acts Hitch and DJ Mytha at 10: 30 p.m. on Thursday. Their pint night is one of the best deals in town – bring a Steamworks pint glass (or buy one at the bar) and get $1 draws of select Steamworks beers. The Taos-based band Last to Know performs at 10 p.m. on Friday at Steamworks. As if one night of $1 pints isn’t enough, Steamworks serves its hand-crafted ales for a buck a pint during its 3-6 p.m. happy hour on Friday. Saturday night finds a live DJ from Denver named Crazy Larry at Steamworks, and it’s Ladies Night.

Family entertainment comes to the Community Concert Hall at 4 p.m. on Sunday with The Seem-To-Be-Players’ production of Rapunzel, which stays true to the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale. This production is family theatre at its best and recommended for K-6th graders and their families.

Last Saturday saw the release of Carvers’ latest seasonal brew, 120 Schilling Scotch Ale. “It’s a big, malty beer with some peaty flavor as well,” says Aaron Seitz, one of the brewery’s owners. Scotch ales tend to be big and bold. Traditionally, they were labeled according to an old price scale. Light Scotch ales cost 60 schillings, heavy Scotch ales cost 70 schillings, and export Scotch ales cost 80 schillings. The strongest were called “Wee Heavies,” and cost 90 to 120 schillings.

I often spend time loading CDs onto my ipod while writing. This week, I found myself listening to some of my favorite local albums from the last decade or so. In no particular order, here are some albums by local musicians that deserve your attention:

• Lawn Chair Kings, self-titled. Erik Nordstrom and company sing about toads, barstools and wholesome trailer park life.

• Aftergrass, self-titled. The most recent local edition to my collection, Aftergrass’ trippy blend of rock, beats and bluegrass only gets better after each listen.

• The Badly Bent, “Olive or Twist.” The sophomore effort from the local bluegrass quintet (now quartet) shines thanks in no small part to Mark Epstein’s instrumental that shares the album’s name.

• Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band, “Cabin in the Hills.” Broke Mountain was the equivalent of a AAA farm team for the bluegrass world four years ago. Its members went on to join such bands as the Infamous Stringdusters, Biscuit Burners, Larry Keel’s Natural Bridge, Wayword Sons and Greensky Bluegrass.

• Chuck Barry, “Beautiful Losers.” When he’s not growing organic produce, Chuck Barry is writing, recording and performing some of the best original singer-songwriter stuff around. His band, the Beautiful Losers, play locally on occasion. You can often catch them at the Hollywood Bar in Dolores.

• Brown Brothers, “Songs from the Lost Generation.” Damn, I wish Greg Oldson never moved away. His dark lyrics and Rob Lawrence’s dirty lap steel make this one timeless.

• Wayword Sons, “Poor Boy’s Delight.” Benny Galloway, Anders Beck, Robin Davis and Greg Andrulis crafted a fine mix of bluegrass and Americana and played some of the country’s biggest festivals on the strength of their one and only release.

• Heart & Soul, “Kindred Spirits.” Back in 1994, Heart & Soul was the all-star band of its time in Durango, featuring Pat Dressen, Karen Mason, Kevin Dwyer, Lou Gillotti and pre-LJM Steve Williams.

• Sally Shuffield, “Ties That Bind.” It’s tough to believe this album is nearly 7 years old. Some of Colorado’s top musicians, including Pete Wernick, Sally Van Meter and Celeste Krenz, helped her with this bluegrass/Americana blend.

• Durangatwangs. Eleven varied local artists got together in 1989 to record tracks at Eagle Sound. Released only on cassette (and nearly impossible to find), it’s a time machine that takes you back nearly two decades. Durango had a lively local music scene then – and now. •

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