Art of the tailgate, Finders & Youngberg, and Euforquestra

by Chris Aaland

Tailgating is an art form, and it starts with organization. On Sunday morning prior to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference men’s soccer championship game, it all came together.

First, you have to have a dedicated crew. Fort Lewis College has its hooligans, a group of diehard fans largely comprised of former players and longtime boosters. This bunch is certainly well-organized. Benj Fredrick, a member of the 1999 Skyhawk squad that advanced to the NCAA Division II title game, has maintained for years. He tweeted the web’s users to let them know time and place.

Like a European side, FLC soccer fans dress the part. Our uniforms consist of commemorative jerseys, championship scarves, wigs, funny hats, beads and wristbands. I even sport a pair of Skyhawk Crocs. So at 11:15 a.m., nearly two hours before kickoff, a mob of 40 or more hooligans dressed in blue and gold gathered in the stadium parking lot. I was the first there and by the time my fellow revelers had joined me, the coals in the Weber grill were ready.

I marinated three pheasants all day Saturday and prepped all the accompaniments: tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella and crusty bread. A few parents whose sons won the national championship back in 2005 showed up with Sunnyside brats and focaccia bread. Even Martin Dirks, the benefactor for whom FLC’s pitch is named, dropped by for appetizers.

The boys rewarded us with a 3-1 win and their fifth straight league trophy. Best of all, it was merely a warm-up for the biggest weekend of soccer in Durango history. For the first time ever, both the FLC men’s and women’s teams host NCAA playoff games. The men kick off the festivities at 2 p.m. Friday at Dirks Field vs. Colorado Mines, a team FLC beat 4-0 and 3-1 earlier this season. Should the good guys win, they’ll play in the regional final at 1 p.m. Sunday. The women, who received a first-round bye, play at 1 p.m. Saturday vs. the winner of today’s (Thursday’s) Mines vs. Regis tilt.

I’m nuts for these teams. The FLC men have won 13 league titles since 1993, and I’ve been there for all but one of them. The women are coached by one of the first student workers I ever employed, Damian Clarke, now full grown and cussin’, as the Gourds like to sing. No doubt my grill will be fired up this weekend.

Skyhawk soccer mixes homegrown talent (Durango, Bayfield and Pagosa Springs are represented on the two rosters) with foreign stars (five Europeans play key roles on the men’s team). Along those lines, this week’s musical lineup is mostly local and regional with a bit of England tossed in for good measure.

Ozric Tentacles, England’s premier psychedelic trance rock band, trip out the Hank on Friday. With 28 albums to their credit, the Ozrics mix thumping bass lines, sound effects, guitar and synthesizers with lights and projected images.

Durango fell in love with Finders & Youngberg last April at the 15th annual Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. The Fort Collins quartet had it all: well-crafted songs by Mike Finders, strong musicianship from Aaron and Erin Youngberg (formerly of Hit & Run) and the unmatched stage presence of Amy Finders. Sadly, Amy will be leaving the band to pursue a bachelor’s degree and other endeavors, so Saturday might mark the last chance you get to see their classic lineup as they take the stage at The Hank.

Euforquestra is back at the Summit on Friday with its self-proclaimed “Afro-Caribbean barnyard funk.” Originally from Iowa and now residing in Fort Collins, they’ve logged more than 300 dates in the past few years and put out three albums.

Durango DOT Comedy performs a night of improv comedy at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Durango Arts Center. Ska beers cost just $1.

The Lost Dog hosts a fund-raiser for the Vallecito Nordic Club from 6-8 p.m. tonight with country tunes provided by the Miserabillies. The most miserable ‘billy of them all, Jack Tallmadge, also has a solo country gig at the Diamond Belle Saloon at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

DJ Whatever returns to Steamworks with a full art show and a live mix to dance to tonight at 9.

Fort Collins bluegrass Finders & Youngberg return to The Hank this Saturday night

The Purple Haze hosts Back Alley Blues from 5-7 p.m. Friday and Tumbling Dice from 8-midnight Friday and Saturday.

Nina Sasaki & Larry Carver play their first shows of the season at the Diamond Belle Saloon at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

This week’s Starlight slate includes the Mac Jazz Trio followed by DJ Wreck on Friday, DJ Benjamin K on Saturday, Colin Rooney on Tuesday and Jonezy’s Club Meds on Wednesday.

Tonight’s free show at the Vallecito Room of the FLC Student Union features the bluegrass stylings of Wild Mountain at 7 p.m.

You can bounce back and forth from one bar to the next at Vallecito on Friday, as the Get Backs perform surf and retro rock at Virginia’s while the Kirk James Blues Band rocks the Schank House.

A bit further south, the Jelly Belly Boogie Band struts its stuff at the Billy Goat Saloon in Gem Village on Friday and at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio on Saturday.

In honor of FLC soccer, here are some highlights from FLC Soccer’s storied history:

1. Ben Gantenbein’s game-winner late in 2005’s national title game. Cole Sweetser sealed it with an empty-net goal with seconds left on the clock.

2. John Cunliffe’s semifinal hat trick in a crazy, 6-4 win over Lynn in ’05. He went on to play in the MLS for two seasons.

3. Kate Kelly’s game-tying goal in the 1999 RMAC title game, which FLC eventually won in a shootout over Regis.

4. Chris Greer sending the ’99 NCAA championship into overtime in the final two minutes of regulation in Miami Shores, Fla. I called the play-by-play for that one on KIUP radio.

5. Steve Berglund’s larger-than-life presence in goal. He won penalty-kick shootouts vs. St. Edwards in the ’99 NCAA playoffs and vs. Metro St. in the ’00 RMAC semis.

6. Euan Purcell’s sweet redemption last weekend. Sidelined for five games with a concussion thanks to Metro’s thuggery, Purcell netted an insurance goal against those same goons.

7. The FLC women handing Metro three losses in the past four years in Denver. Metro is virtually unbeatable on its home turf. •

Ole! Ole, ole, ole! E-mail me at



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