Christmas in September, Chile Cha Cha & Rock the Mike

by Chris Aaland

Tom T. Hall said it best: “Whiskey’s too rough, champagne costs too much, vodka puts my mouth in gear.” Yeah, he likes beer. I do, too. For beer drinkers, Oktoberfest is Christmas, Halloween and the Super Bowl all rolled into one.

This year’s Oktoberfest kicks off with the wooden barrel tapping by Mayor Renee Parsons at 11 a.m. Saturday on Main Ave. between 9th and 11th. Free live music starts immediately after suds are flowing, with performances by Alte Kamaraden, the Hounds of Purg, Felonious Groove Foundation, the Alpiners, the Big Spank and Future Jazz Project from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Carvers, Durango Brewing, Ska and Steamworks will all be selling beer to raise money for the San Juan Citizens Alliance. Festivities also include food, children’s activities, arts & crafts booths and more.

For $10, you can purchase Pub Crawl tickets that allow you to revel into the wee hours while shaking it to Felonious Groove Foundation at 8 p.m. at Carvers, the Big Spank at 9 p.m. at Steamworks and Future Jazz Project at 10 p.m. at the Abbey.

Oktoberfest continues from noon-5 p.m. on Sunday at the grand opening of the Ska Brewing World Headquarters, a behemoth, three-story, eco-friendly and beer gut-friendlier suds stop at 225 Girard Drive. The Bodo boys built a brewery that enables them to drastically increase their production, host live music and fund-raisers, and serve as a communal gathering site. Twenty bucks gets you a souvenir stein and all the beers you can belly. Ska debuts its Strong Scotch Ale, aged in 10-year-old Heaven Hill Distillery oak bourbon barrels. It’s approximately 8 percent alcohol by volume and packaged in 750-ml corked and caged Belgian bottles. Guest beers include ales by the other three Durango breweries, plus Stone, New Belgium, Three Rivers, Dolores River, Oskar Blues, Left Hand, Avery and more. Live music from Fuzzy Killing Machine, the Freeman Social, Beautiful Losers Society and Warsaw takes place from noon-4 p.m. The best part: transportation within city limits is provided for those who sample one too many.

Reggae legends the Itals visit the Summit on Wednesday with Boulder’s Jus Goodie opening. Fronted by lead singer Keith Porter, the Itals have been burnin’ for more than 30 years. Goodie, who was raised in Detroit, blends Motown soul, vintage R&B and classic reggae.

The Summit also welcomes Boulder’s Holden Young Trio (HY3) on Friday. Young and company have built a loyal following with their hard-driving mix of rock, funk and Afrobeat.

The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown hosts its fourth annual fund-raiser at Durango Brewing at 5 p.m. tonight (Thursday). $10 gets you all-you-can eat barbecue, a souvenir DBC/Meltdown pint glass and live music from the Badly Bent and three other local bluegrass bands.

Canadian songwriters Fred Eaglesmith and Corb Lund perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Henry Strater Theatre in a Durango Acoustic Music production. Both are part of the “Roots on the Rails” package that brings nearly 75 Fredheads from around the world to the San Juan Mountains for train rides and tunes. Eaglesmith is one of the top Americana songwriters of the past 15 years, often compared to Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen. Lund is a rockabilly and alt-country type equally influenced by C.W. McCall, Johnny Horton and the Sadies.

Four rock and punk bands get together for a great cause on Saturday night at the Summit for the Rock the Mike benefit for brain cancer research. Mike Freeman, the namesake of the Freeman Social and a member of Gina Go Faster, is battling brain cancer. Doors open at 9 p.m. with music starting at about 9:30. The lineup includes Fuzzy Killing Machine, the Freeman Social, the Dropscots (a punk band from Denver) and Sick Sick 6, which features Freeman and fellow Gina Go Faster members. The fund-raiser also includes a raffle with such items as snowboard bindings from Inferno, a board from Bubba’s, tattoos from Your Flesh, pizza from Diorio’s South, a 10-punch pass to Trimble Hot Springs, dinner for two at the Sow’s Ear, a Ska keg and more. The suggested donation is $5 at the door, plus $5 raffle tickets.

Flash Cadillac, once revered as “America’s premier party band,” takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Community Concert Hall as part of the annual fund-raising event for the La Plata Family Centers Coalition. In the last year, 4,000 families have received services from one of the family centers in La Plata County. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a pre-concert social and silent auction. Formed by a bunch of Boulder buddies in the late ’60s, Flash Cadillac is best known for their songs in “American Graffiti,” which earned them a platinum album.

FolkWest presents its third annual Mountain Chile Cha Cha on Saturday at Town Park in Pagosa Springs. The Chile Cha Cha includes a trail race, kids’ fun run, green chile cook-off and tasting, Hatch chile roasting, beer garden and live music from Nosotros at 1:30 p.m. and Euforquestra at 4 p.m. The concert is held under a giant tent, rain or shine.

In honor of Oktoberfest, this week’s Top Shelf list toasts 10 beer drinking ditties:

“More Beer,” Fear. This 1985 punk classic was part of the soundtrack to my senior year of high school.

“Beer Ain’t Drinkin’,” the Beat Farmers. Country Dick Montana and Mojo Nixon wrote this paean to barley and hops shortly before Dick’s fatal 1995 heart attack.

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” John Lee Hooker. ‘Nuff said.

“Amarillo Highway,” Terry Allen. His trunk’s full of Pearl and Lone Star.

“Beer Run,” Todd Snider. Nashville’s stoner laureate turns a familiar children’s tune into fake I.D. hell.

“Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers,” ZZ Top. The little ol’ band from Tejas set the tone for future debauchery on 1973’s “Tres Hombres.”

“Beer Barrel Polka,” Bobbie Nelson. Little sister steals the thunder on Willie’s “Tougher than Leather” by playing an Oktoberfest classic in Old West barrelhouse style.

“Hey, Bartender!” Koko Taylor. The Queen of the Blues dresses up Floyd Dixon’s standard.

“Colorado Cool-Aid,” Johnny Paycheck. A border town, a switchblade and cold brew.

“I Like Beer,” Tom T. Hall. The national anthem for hops hounds. •

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