The little guy, Five Deadly Venoms and best in fest

Five Deadly Venoms, bluegrass from NYC,  plays the Summit Wednesday night

by Chris Aaland

heers to my man Steve Miller. No, not the guy who wrote “The Joker.” I’m talking about the other Steve Miller, the one who works for Durango School District 9R as an accountant and can rattle off nearly every happy hour special in town. I lived with Steve for 10 years, first in college and later in between marriages. The guy couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Yet, in the past three weeks, he’s checked off the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the Animas Half-Marathon from his bucket list. Not bad for a guy who just turned 40.

Me? Sure, I used to play basketball and football and run the 400 in track. Occasionally I still play a game of H-O-R-S-E or hike a couple of miles up some high country creek to cast dry flies to 7-inch brookies and cutthroats. Competition now is beer pong.

So, I guess I’m buying the little guy a round or two the next time I see him. If I can only get him competitive about sitting in the front of the line at bluegrass festivals … more about that later.

Legendary reggae band the Itals, featuring original lead vocalist Keith Porter, play a fund-raiser for KDUR at the Summit on Sunday. The Itals are best known for their 1975 single “Ina Disya Time” — a song that Keith Richards calls “the perfect reggae track.” In the 34 years since, the Itals have continued to record, perform and garner critical acclaim. A dub rock band, Oatie Paste, Megaphon and DJ I-Gene are also on the bill.

Up-and-coming blues vocalist and harmonica player John Némith performs at the Abbey Theatre at 8 p.m. tonight (Thursday). His vocal style has been compared to that of B.B. King, Ray Charles and Junior Parker, while his harp playing recalls Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. Némith’s fans include none other than harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite. During his 10-year career, the 30-year-old Boise native has opened for Robert Cray, Keb’ Mo’ and Earl Thomas.

The Five Deadly Venoms strike Durango on Wednesday when they play the Summit at 8 p.m. A five-piece bluegrass band from the high, lonesome hills of New York City, the Venoms competed in the band competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and will do the same next month at RockyGrass.

Steamworks hosts the hip-hop and indie music of 8Bitcynics & Jabee Oklahoma with special guest DJ CMB of Cortez at 10 p.m. tonight.

Live music at the Starlight this week includes an FAC with Gyles X at 6 p.m. Friday, Jaki & the Joysticks at 9 p.m. Saturday and Colin Rooney at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Jack Ellis & Larry Carver bring High Altitude Blues to El Patio at 5 p.m. tonight.

The Kirk James Blues Band plays the Schank House Bar & Grille at Vallecito at 8 p.m. Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

The Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association sponsors the free Sunset Concert Series, which takes place each Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village through Sept. 2. The lineup is a stellar one, with the likes of the Old 97s July 15

Speaking of Telluride, I found the 36th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival to be among the best I’ve attended, and 2009 marked my 13th straight appearance at the four-day banjo blowout. Here are my 10 favorite Telluride Bluegrass moments this year:

1. David Byrne. The skinny, freaky dude who sang and played guitar was always the genius behind the Talking Heads and their ability to blend white boy soul, disco, new wave, punk and urban poetry. His current entourage includes a crackerjack band, backing vocalists and avant-garde dancers – all decked out in white from head to toe playing Talking Heads classics and new material that I’d never heard. Byrne simply put on the greatest show I’ve ever seen.

2. Three Girls & Their Buddy. Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin were joined by No Depression magazine’s Artist of the Decade for the 2000s, Buddy Miller. It was a “songwriters in the round” that rivaled that of Guy Clark, Joe Ely, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett a few years ago.

3. Sam Bush. I’ve seen the King of Telluride play more than 40 times, but have rarely seen him in finer form.

4. Punch Brothers. It was billed as “Punch Brothers Play and Sing Bluegrass,” and that was no lie. Ever since he shut down Nickel Creek, Chris Thile has bored me with his explorations of classical, jazz and world music. By embracing the songs of Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin and newer influences like Ronnie McCoury, Thile reminded us of his greatness.

5. Jenny Lewis. I’d never even heard of her, but the lead singer of Rilo Kiley rocked hard, blending indie, alt-country and Americana with riot grrrl angst.

6. Yonder Mountain String Band. At their annual Wednesday night Mountain Village affair, the jam-grass favorites recreated their 1999 set from the Low Sierra Music Festival, which an early fan recorded and burned copies for anyone who would listen. This taper, who gave Yonder word-of-mouth credibility amongst the neo-hippie sect, died a few weeks ago. It was a fitting, tear-filled tribute.

7. Railroad Earth. With apologies to Yonder, I thought Railroad Earth’s Thursday night set at the Sheridan Opera House was the jam-band highlight of the weekend.

8. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson. I’ve gone gaga over Kasey ever since I saw her at T-Ride several years ago. The Aussie who was weaned on the Carter Family and Hank Williams has a mouth that would make a sailor blush.

9. Greensky Bluegrass. Anders Beck and Co. sold out the Sheridan weeks in advance and delivered the goods as promised.

10. Elvis Costello & the Sugarcanes. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer embraced bluegrass with the likes of Mike Compton, Stuart Duncan and Jerry Douglas. Sure, it wasn’t pub rock, but it was the next best thing. •

Some people call me Maurice? E-mail me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

Some people call me Maurice? E-mail me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

o my man Steve Miller. No, not the guy who wrote “The Joker.” I’m talking about the other Steve Miller, the one who works for Durango School District 9R as an accountant and can rattle off nearly every happy hour special in town. I lived with Steve for 10 years, first in college and later in between marriages. The guy couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Yet, in the past three weeks, he’s checked off the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the Animas Half-Marathon from his bucket list. Not bad for a guy who just turned 40.

Me? Sure, I used to play basketball and football and run the 400 in track. Occasionally I still play a game of H-O-R-S-E or hike a couple of miles up some high country creek to cast dry flies to 7-inch brookies and cutthroats. Competition now is beer pong.

So, I guess I’m buying the little guy a round or two the next time I see him. If I can only get him competitive about sitting in the front of the line at bluegrass festivals … more about that later.

Legendary reggae band the Itals, featuring original lead vocalist Keith Porter, play a fund-raiser for KDUR at the Summit on Sunday. The Itals are best known for their 1975 single “Ina Disya Time” — a song that Keith Richards calls “the perfect reggae track.” In the 34 years since, the Itals have continued to record, perform and garner critical acclaim. A dub rock band, Oatie Paste, Megaphon and DJ I-Gene are also on the bill.

Up-and-coming blues vocalist and harmonica player John Némith performs at the Abbey Theatre at 8 p.m. tonight (Thursday). His vocal style has been compared to that of B.B. King, Ray Charles and Junior Parker, while his harp playing recalls Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. Némith’s fans include none other than harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite. During his 10-year career, the 30-year-old Boise native has opened for Robert Cray, Keb’ Mo’ and Earl Thomas.

The Five Deadly Venoms strike Durango on Wednesday when they play the Summit at 8 p.m. A five-piece bluegrass band from the high, lonesome hills of New York City, the Venoms competed in the band competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and will do the same next month at RockyGrass.

Steamworks hosts the hip-hop and indie music of 8Bitcynics & Jabee Oklahoma with special guest DJ CMB of Cortez at 10 p.m. tonight.

Live music at the Starlight this week includes an FAC with Gyles X at 6 p.m. Friday, Jaki & the Joysticks at 9 p.m. Saturday and Colin Rooney at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Jack Ellis & Larry Carver bring High Altitude Blues to El Patio at 5 p.m. tonight.

The Kirk James Blues Band plays the Schank House Bar & Grille at Vallecito at 8 p.m. Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

The Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association sponsors the free Sunset Concert Series, which takes place each Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village through Sept. 2. The lineup is a stellar one, with the likes of the Old 97’s (July 15), James McMurtry (July 22), Trombone Shorty (Aug. 5) and the Avett Brothers (Aug. 19) among the acts coming to the northern San Juans. This week’s installment is Carbon Leaf, a five-piece Virginia rock band that is best known for its hits “The Boxer” and “Life Less Ordinary.”

Speaking of Telluride, I found the 36th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival to be among the best I’ve attended, and 2009 marked my 13th straight appearance at the four-day banjo blowout. Here are my 10 favorite Telluride Bluegrass moments this year:

1. David Byrne. The skinny, freaky dude who sang and played guitar was always the genius behind the Talking Heads and their ability to blend white boy soul, disco, new wave, punk and urban poetry. His current entourage includes a crackerjack band, backing vocalists and avant-garde dancers – all decked out in white from head to toe playing Talking Heads classics and new material that I’d never heard. Byrne simply put on the greatest show I’ve ever seen.

2. Three Girls & Their Buddy. Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin were joined by No Depression magazine’s Artist of the Decade for the 2000s, Buddy Miller. It was a “songwriters in the round” that rivaled that of Guy Clark, Joe Ely, John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett a few years ago.

3. Sam Bush. I’ve seen the King of Telluride play more than 40 times, but have rarely seen him in finer form.

4. Punch Brothers. It was billed as “Punch Brothers Play and Sing Bluegrass,” and that was no lie. Ever since he shut down Nickel Creek, Chris Thile has bored me with his explorations of classical, jazz and world music. By embracing the songs of Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin and newer influences like Ronnie McCoury, Thile reminded us of his greatness.

5. Jenny Lewis. I’d never even heard of her, but the lead singer of Rilo Kiley rocked hard, blending indie, alt-country and Americana with riot grrrl angst.

6. Yonder Mountain String Band. At their annual Wednesday night Mountain Village affair, the jam-grass favorites recreated their 1999 set from the Low Sierra Music Festival, which an early fan recorded and burned copies for anyone who would listen. This taper, who gave Yonder word-of-mouth credibility amongst the neo-hippie sect, died a few weeks ago. It was a fitting, tear-filled tribute.

7. Railroad Earth. With apologies to Yonder, I thought Railroad Earth’s Thursday night set at the Sheridan Opera House was the jam-band highlight of the weekend.

8. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson. I’ve gone gaga over Kasey ever since I saw her at T-Ride several years ago. The Aussie who was weaned on the Carter Family and Hank Williams has a mouth that would make a sailor blush.

9. Greensky Bluegrass. Anders Beck and Co. sold out the Sheridan weeks in advance and delivered the goods as promised.

10. Elvis Costello & the Sugarcanes. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer embraced bluegrass with the likes of Mike Compton, Stuart Duncan and Jerry Douglas. Sure, it wasn’t pub rock, but it was the next best thing. •

Some people call me Maurice? E-mail me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

 

 

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