Glory days, Final Four and Cover Night

by Chris Aaland

I remember Dec. 1, 1984, vividly. I was 16 years old and excited to suit up for my first varsity basketball game. I had a split role, coming off the bench as power forward on the Top 10-ranked varsity squad and starting at center for Wheat Ridge’s J.V. My best friend, Jay Ernst, had a similar role as a shooting guard. We had a bet as to who would score first in a varsity game.

Trouble was, mom was 42 weeks pregnant and the doctors had induced delivery. In the late afternoon, dressed in my uniform, warmups and Converse basketball shoes, I watched in the Lutheran Hospital delivery room as William Christopher Raines entered the world. He was red-faced, screaming and covered in green poop. I arrived at the gym late for pre-game. During introductions, the P.A. announcer mentioned that I had just returned from the hospital where my mother had given birth. That first quarter saw me shoot lights out and hit double figures before halftime.

Then the varsity rolled to an easy win. Jay and I came off the bench in garbage time. He drew a foul and landed with his arms behind him, breaking his right wrist. Jay, a leftie, stayed in the game to sink a couple of foul shots and win the bet. A few minutes later, we were back at Lutheran to get a cast put on Jay’s wrist and introduce my teammates to my new brother.

Billy turned 25 on Tuesday. Through the years, we’ve spent countless days in the field and on the river, drank copious amounts of beer and watched thousands of college and pro sports games. Less than two weeks ago, on our annual trek to Kansas, we pulled over in the San Luis Valley to listen to the final minutes of the Fort Lewis College men’s soccer NCAA quarterfinal win over Dominguez Hills on a weak A.M. radio frequency.

I was planning a trip to Tampa for the NCAA Division II men’s soccer Final Four, but my bank account and other obligations dictated otherwise. Fort Lewis is making its fourth trip to the Final Four since 1999, having won the whole shebang in 2005. The top-ranked Skyhawks (22-1 overall) play No. 6 Le Moyne (17-2-3) at 9 a.m. mountain time today (Thursday). Should FLC advance to the championship, the Irish Embassy Pub will host a watch party at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The title game will be aired on CBS College Sports Live.

Win or lose, the Irish Embassy Pub will host a party for the FLC men’s and women’s soccer teams (the women also qualified for the NCAA playoffs this year) at 5 p.m. Sunday. A limited number of $50 tickets are available, with food and drink included. Proceeds will benefit men’s and women’s soccer scholarships at FLC.

KDUR’s latest cover night is a battle-of-the-bands of sorts, pitting Guns ‘n’ Roses vs. Creedence Clearwater Revival at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Summit. No, Axl Rose and John Fogerty won’t be in the house. But Guns and Creedence covers will be performed by a slew of local talent including the Lawn Chair Kings, Jaki & the Joysticks, RedEyedDjinn, Night Train (which is basically Jack Ten High), the Boycotts, Wild Mountain, Spinning Wheels, You’re Welcome, the Scrugglers as Split Lip Bayfield, Willie & the Poor Boys (a Steve Mendias

Baby Toro, a band that KDUR’s Bryant Liggett and Chap Myers tout as one of their favorite local acts, plays the Beehive grand opening (1027 Main Ave.) from 5-7 p.m. Saturday. While the “electric-folk-surf-goth” duo, as Liggett calls them, will have its debut long-player available, Baby Toro isn’t calling it a record release party.

Durango DOT Comedy presents “A Holiday Feast” at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Durango Arts Center. This time around, the DOT-commers will present a unique, menu-style show where the audience selects the actors and the comedy game and Durango DOT Comedy brings extra ham. As always, $1 Skas will be on tap.

The Community Concert Hall hosts a Celtic Canadian Yule spectacle when “A Leahy Family Christmas” takes the stage at 7 p.m. Wednesday. These eight siblings — Agnes, Angus, Donnell, Doug, Erin, Frank, Maria and Siobheann — fiddle, sing and dance.

One of Durango’s most unique seasonal craft beers, Spruce Goose, is once again on tap at Steamworks and in bombers at local liquor stores. Brewed with fresh spruce tips harvested in the San Juans, the ale tips its cap to traditional Viking spruce beers that my ancestors drank to induce animalistic fury. It received a bronze medal at the 2009 Australian International Beer Competition.

The Summit’s fare this week includes DJ Peter Robot & friends tonight and its monthly First Friday art and music experiment with Afro Classics, Very and DJ Mowgli, plus live visual artists.

The Starlight hosts the Mac Jazz Trio from 6-9 p.m. Friday, DJ Wreck at 9 p.m. Friday, DJ Spark Madden at 9 p.m. Saturday, Kentucky Deluxe at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Jonezy’s Club Meds at 9 p.m. Wednesday. A supporter of FLC volleyball, the Starlight also hosts an end-of-season FLC Volleyball party for the team at 6 p.m. Saturday. All volleyball fans are welcome to join the ladies for free pizza.

Elsewhere: Artikle does the weekly freebie in the Vallecito Room of FLC’s Student Union at 7 p.m. tonight; Formula 151 plays at Desperados Bar (next to Office Depot) from 7-11 p.m. Friday; CC&N with Larry Carver, Randy Crumbaugh and Nina Sasaki, rocks the Derailed Saloon at 7 p.m. Friday; Back Alley Blues plays an FAC at the Purple Haze from 5-7 Friday; and the Edgar Mack Blues Band does 8-midnight gigs at the Purple Haze Friday and Saturday.

This week’s Top Shelf list is a short one that pays homage to my little brother, a guy I just spent another wonderful week in Kansas with chasing pheasants and quail:

-Happy birthday, Billy. I love you, brother. •

You learn to live like an animal? E-mail me at

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