Farewell to Marmaduke, Fridays at the Fort and WinoVino

by Chris Aaland

While some artists live in the limelight, others thrive in the margins, going largely unnoticed by the general public. John Dawson was one of the latter. Sadly, he died of stomach cancer in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, on July 21 at age 64 – a fact that even the most fervent music fans missed.

“Marmaduke,” as Dawson was called, was best known as the leader of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, the country-rock outfit he formed in 1969 with multi-instrumentalist David Nelson and three members of the Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia and company realized that by taking Dawson and Nelson on the road, they had a built-in opening act. Two years later, the band had added bassist Dave Torbert and ex-Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden. That same year, they released one of the definitive country-rock albums of all time in their self-titled debut. The record featured 10 Dawson-penned originals, songs like “Glendale Train,” “Henry” and “Louisiana Lady” that would become staples.

Deadheads recognize Dawson as the guy who co-authored “Friend of the Devil” with Garcia and Robert Hunter. The influence of NRPS certainly can be heard on the Dead’s two most popular studio recordings, “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty.”

In 1973, NRPS released “The Adventures of Panama Red,” a collection of songs that celebrated the excesses of California life long before Joe Walsh first strummed the opening riff to “Life in the Fast Lane.” Peter Rowan penned the title track (as well as “Lonesome L.A. Cowboy,” another standout cut). Strangely, Rowan didn’t dedicate the tune to Dawson at RockyGrass a few weeks ago … a reminder that fame is fleeting.

Dawson retired from music in 1997, opting to move to Mexico and become an English teacher. He rejoined the reformed NRPS, though, at a handful of shows a few years ago.

Marmaduke will be missed.

While Fridays at the Fort have focused on local bands, the final installment of the free series brings a pair of songwriters from afar. Beth Wood, a Texan transplanted into the fertile musical soil of Lyons, is a musical triple threat. She was classically trained on piano at Brevard College, picked up a guitar when she moved to Austin, and drew upon her literature degree for lyrical inspiration. Special guest Cindy Woolf is an Americana artist from the Ozark Mountains who injects hints of bluegrass and blues into her folk. Music runs from 5-8 p.m. at the Community Concert Hall; unlike most shows there, food and beverages will be for sale and can be brought into the venue.

Tyller Gummersall & Wild Country play a dance at the La Plata County Fairgrounds at 8 p.m. tonight (Thursday). Gummersall is an up-and-coming country singer from Bayfield who has worked with local icons like Gary Cook and Red Greer. I’ve only heard one of his tunes to date – an original called “This Time You’re Gone” – but am impressed with his musicianship and vocal chops.

Reggae is on tap at the Abbey at 8 p.m. Tuesday with the Mighty Diamonds and special guest a dub rock band. A Jamaican harmony trio, the Diamonds were formed in 1969

The Summit celebrates First Friday with Chip Fu & DJ Mowgli — a unique pairing of a live visual artist with music that’s become a cool experiment the first Friday of each month.

Gypsy music comes to the Summit on Saturday in the form of WinoVino. Formed in 2006, the ever-evolving Austin band employs guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, accordion, keyboards, percussion, clarinet and trumpet and tackles everything from Gypsy to punk. Durango’s own Carute Roma opens.

Gypsy music comes to the Summit on Saturday in the form of WinoVino. Formed in 2006, the ever-evolving Austin band employs guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, accordion, keyboards, percussion, clarinet and trumpet and tackles everything from Gypsy to punk. Durango’s own Carute Roma opens.

Celebrate the 14th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing at the Summit on Sunday with Jerry Day and RedEyedJinn.

The Starlight’s offerings this week include salsa night at 8 p.m. tonight, FAC featuring Eric Keifer of Aftergrass on Friday, Made in the Shade at 8 p.m. Saturday, Musica del Mundo at 8 p.m. Sunday, Kentucky Deluxe at 9 p.m. Monday and Jonezy’s Club Meds at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Kirk James has a couple of solo gigs this week. From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, he’ll play the blues at Rylee Mac’s Patio, located at 1485 Florida Road. The following night, he’ll visit the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio from 8 to 11 p.m.

Waiting on Trial returns to the 8th Ave. Tavern at 9 p.m. Saturday for another night of bluegrass.

This week’s free show at Telluride Mountain Village is the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Music starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village. Dirty Dozen plays an innovative blend of traditional New Orleans jazz and modern funk and R&B. The ensemble has recorded with artists from Dizzy Gillespie to Elvis Costello, toured with Widespread Panic and reinterpreted the hymns and parade songs of Crescent City second-line bands.

This week’s Top Shelf list looks at some happenings that will make local microbrew fans happy in the next few weeks:

-The release of Ska Mixed-Up 12-packs in cans! Next week, expect to see combo-cartons of True Blonde, ESB and Modus Hoperandi on the shelves of your favorite liquor store. Dave, Bill, Matt and the boys are rumored to be the first microbrewery to market a mixed 12-pack of cans.

-Durango Brewing Company’s Motivator Scotch Ale. The Motivator is a beer and a band. Both made their debut last Saturday on the DBC loading dock. I’m not a big Scotch ale fan, but the Motivator was smooth and pleasantly malty. Kudos to DBC for using malts from the Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa, too.

-Skavery Wheelsucker Wheat radlers. The Wheelsucker is a one-off collaboration between Ska and Avery. It commemorates a bike tour that a bunch of Colorado brewers took a few weeks ago to raise money for a variety of causes. Wheelsucker is a heavy Hefeweisen, slightly dark in color and a wee bit high in alcohol content. The Muffin Man at Lady Falconburgh’s suggests a radler — Wheelsucker on ice, mixed with club soda and lemonade. Garnish with an orange wedge. Trust me, you should try it.

Now he’s rollin’ down the mountain, going fast, fast, fast? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.