Concerts for causes, Great American Taxi and RockJam

by Chris Aaland

Sometimes music must champion a cause. Since the ’60s, rock has risen up to fight hunger, poverty, disease and war. Think back to the Concert for Bangladesh, Farm Aid, U.S.A. for Africa and, more recently, the Concert for New York City and Live 8. All brought out the heaviest of heavy hitters to raise money and awareness for a variety of causes.

No bigger event was held than Live Aid, the July 13, 1985 multi-continental concert that net more than $280 million to benefit famine relief in Ethiopia. I remember it well, sitting at my parents’ house in Wheat Ridge with a bunch of high school buddies watching reunions by the Who, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. We saw Bono stroll out into the crowd during a rendition of “Bad” that included a medley of Lou Reed and Rolling Stones songs, thus elevating U2 from critics’ darlings to the brink of superstardom. We witnessed Queen prove why they were the greatest live band ever. And we watched the stream of never-ending stars like Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and Paul McCartney deliver one hit after another. All of this came from the vision of an Irishman named Bob Geldoff from a working man’s rock band called the Boomtown Rats. Geldoff’s efforts have launched thousands of knock-offs, all earning coin for worthy causes big and small.

Durango is fortunate to see the grassroots effort of one such kindred spirit come to fruition this Friday. Beginning at 5 p.m. at the Henry Strater Theatre, the Pete Kartsounes Band, Gigi Love and Rock & Rye featuring special guest Benny “Burle” Galloway will raise money for a group called No fewer than four former members of the Wayword Sons (Galloway, Kartsounes, Rock & Rye’s Robin Davis and local keyboardist Greg Andrulis) are expected to take part. Admission to this all-ages fund-raiser is $10, but additional donations will be accepted. While it’s being produced by Durango Acoustic Music, all proceeds will benefit Hike4Cancer.

Hike4Cancer is Kartsounes’ baby. The Boulder musician, who honed his bluegrass and folk chops while living in Pagosa Springs, wanted to serve a higher purpose. He founded the nonprofit group with John Peláez to support kids with cancer and their families. Their goal is to raise $150,000 in 2008 for Estes Park’s Camp Wapiyapi, which provides a weeklong retreat for children battling cancer.

Kartsounes and noted hiker/outdoorsman Namie “Nean” Bacile have hiked the entire 500-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, stopping along the way to perform in such places as Leadville, Salida, Creede and Pagosa Springs. The Durango show officially wraps up the hike; performances started the night before RockyGrass when Kartsounes, the Infamous Stringdusters and others took the stage of Oskar Blues in Lyons. While on the trail, Kartsounes has written songs inspired by his journey and will release a CD next year to benefit the cause.

Another group hosting a fundraiser this week is the Montezuma County Land Conservancy, which taps into its 10th annual Harvest Beer Festival at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Cortez Cultural Center. Sand Sheff and the Lindells will play to patrons sampling ales from nine regional microbreweries. Tickets cost $25 ($15 for designated drivers and other nondrinkers) and are available at the door only.

Vince Herman brings Great American Taxi to the Fort Lewis College Amphitheatre at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) as part of FLC’s Welcome Week activities. No stranger to Durango, Vince has played here countless times with his other band, Leftover Salmon, plus solo appearances and Taxi dates. Expect to hear Herman belt out songs spanning his entire career, including Taxi’s debut album, “Streets of Gold.”

Pete Kartsounes

Sadly, the end of summer means the end of Ska-B-Qs as we know them. Only three remain. Tonight’s event, kicking off at 5 p.m. on Turner Drive, unleashes the Southwest rock of Pandemic. Fret not, my friends. I toured Ska’s behemoth new brewery last week. Trust me when I tell you the party will move indoors.

Friday finds Fractalized at the Summit for a 10 p.m. gig. The new rock band weaves contemporary sounds with flashbacks of Frank Zappa, Primus and Jean-Luc Ponty, among others.

Moe’s Starlight Lounge has started a Friday Afternoon Club from 4:30-7 p.m. weekly. In addition to half-price everything, the Good Neighbors will rock the Starlight from 5-8:30 p.m.

Steamworks welcomes NIAYH, a four-piece band from Portland, Ore., that plays hip hop-infused psychedelic soul and rock at 10 p.m. Saturday. Their MySpace page bills them as a tea party with Pink Floyd, Medeski, Martin & Wood, and Amy Winehouse.

Dog at Large was a Durango institution back in the ’80s and ’90s, playing countless shows at Farquahrts when it was still a glorious little music dive. The band went into hibernation in 2001, but has recently resurfaced at a couple of private parties. The quartet, featuring Gary Watkins on guitar, DC Duncan (a.k.a. Capt. Rumbelly) on drums, Jim Belcher on bass and Bob Hemenger on sax, gets it on old-school Saturday night at Legends (formerly the Ball Park).

Dude, RockJam comes to Grand Junction on Saturday and Sunday. Bust out the ripped jeans, sleeveless Night Ranger T-shirts and bandanas, and head north for a lineup that includes Kid Rock, Poison, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Survivor, Dokken, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Rare Earth, and the obligatory battle of the bands. If that’s not enough, it’s sponsored by Jack Daniel’s. Come to think of it, why in the hell is Big Head Todd on the bill? Did H.O.A.R.D.E. finally die?

This week’s Top Shelf list divulges clues as to the arrival of students back at the Fort:• A blue porta-potty that had been rolled down the front hill • Lawn-sitting at the last house on 8th Ave. before the switchbacks leading up to campus • Next-to-impossible-to-find parking • Dodging 50 mph drivers on Rim Drive • The return of Skyhawk soccer, volleyball, football and cycling • Lines at the bookstore, the cashier’s window and even the men’s room • Mountain bikes, Frisbees and hacky sacks • Great American Taxi’s ritualistic free Welcome Week show • Leaves changing on the Front Hill • The realization that my garden will freeze before I harvest the first tomato

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