Orange season, Allen Toussaint and homecoming

by Chris Aaland

stood atop two cliffs last week, one brought on by stress, the other a stress reliever. Sometimes it’s best just to stop and look around.

With big-game rifle season looming ahead, my brother Billy and I made plans to go grouse hunting one last time before the hills become dotted with rifle-wielding deer and elk hunters. Although I’m not a big game hunter, I have nothing against them; in fact, I’m quite thankful for friends who load my freezer with roasts, steaks and back straps. But I’ve already had my time to play in the mountains this fall and am happy to yield to others.

So I picked Billy up at 10 a.m. Saturday for our 2009 swan song grouse hunting and fly fishing trip near Hermosa Park and Lime Creek. Aside from an 8-inch rainbow that gulped my ant pattern, neither destination proved bountiful. With just four hours before Billy needed to go to work, we set our sights on ptarmigan above Silverton. I thought our best bet was Stony Pass.

Billy isn’t much for steep, one-lane mountain roads — particularly those with drop-offs. He’s managed to roll one truck in his lifetime, so that’s certainly understandable. But he does love big, wide open views. As we inched closer to Stony’s summit, with Canby Mountain to our north, it became obvious that the shotguns would remain in their cases. Sometimes the view is enough. We let my German Shorthair, Luna, cautiously run around the rocky tundra, her feet unaccustomed to the craggy surface. Billy walked east about a quarter of a mile, amazed by the view of the Rio Grande drainage. I worked my way southwest toward a cirque lake, stopping on a ledge to stare thousands of feet down into Cunningham Gulch. Only separated by a half-mile but still within sight distance of each other, Billy and I gazed into opposite directions and marveled at the October views we were enjoying from nearly 13,000 feet above sea level … in shorts and T-shirts, no less. The next day, snow covered the high country. Jeep road trips will have to wait until next summer. The shotguns will collect dust until Thanksgiving week, when we head to north central Kansas to chase pheasants and quail.

Otto pulled a bunch of books off my shelf this morning. One contained an excerpt of John Muir’s “The Mountains of California.” Our reading time hasn’t quite progressed from nursery rhymes to pastoral prose, but I’m anxious to share my love for wild places with him.

We’re already sharing music together, and this week thankfully marks the return of shows to the Community Concert Hall.

Wednesday night features a veritable R&B legend in Allen Toussaint at the Concert Hall for a 7:30 p.m. show. As a writer, sideman and producer, he’s been part of the New Orleans scene for more than 40 years, working in R&B, soul, funk, rock, jazz, blues and country. He wrote timeless hits for the likes of Tommy Dorsey (“Working in a Coal Mine”) and Glen Campbell (“Southern Nights”), yet the public largely ignored him. Toussaint was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and finally started touring in earnest in

Top 40 country artist Suzy Bogguss returns to the Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Sunday. Best known for blending traditional country with contemporary trends, Bogguss was already a regular on the country charts in 1991 when her career exploded with “Aces,” which included songs by the likes of Cheryl Wheeler (“Aces”) and Tom Russell (“Outbound Plane”).

Owen Morse and Jon Wee bring “The Passing Zone,” a mix of juggling and comedy, to the Concert Hall on Saturday. They’ve won international acclaim for their juggling and acrobatic feats and have opened for such icons as Bob Hope, Bill Cosby and George Carlin.

The March Fourth Marching Band will somehow cram onto the Summit’s tiny stage at 9:30 p.m. Monday. “This is a 24-piece marching band,” said Summit owner Scottie Sindelar. “I’m not sure how it’s gonna work out, but I let them know my size and they still wanted to do it.” M4 has appeared at numerous festivals lately, including Burning Man and Tour de Fat.

J Wail brings his Telecaster and electronic toys to the Summit tonight (Thursday) for an evening of organic electronica. He’s been joined live in the past by members of the Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident and Ween, among others. Peter Robot and aNdU share the bill.

J Wail brings his Telecaster and electronic toys to the Summit tonight (Thursday) for an evening of organic electronica. He’s been joined live in the past by members of the Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident and Ween, among others. Peter Robot and aNdU share the bill.

Punk takes over Ska Brewing tonight, Oct. 8, as the Boycotts play from 5-7 p.m.

This week’s free concert in the FLC amphitheatre features Aftergrass at 7 p.m. tonight. In case of bad weather, the show moves indoors into the Student Union solarium.

Elsewhere: the Kirk James Blues Band at the Schank House at Vallecito at 8 p.m. Friday; Nina Sasaki and Larry Carver at El Patio at 4 p.m. tonight and 3 p.m. Sunday; and Neil Nelson & the Saloonatics at the Purple Haze at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

It’s Homecoming at the Fort this week, with loads of events scheduled throughout the weekend. My personal favorite is the alumni reception at the Irish Embassy Pub from 7-10 p.m. Friday with free appetizers and Think Pink soccer T-shirts being sold to benefit Mercy’s Cancer Center. There’s also a kickoff party with live music from Jack Ten High in front of the train station at 4:30 Friday, a parade, bonfire, tailgate party, alumni awards and more. Visit and click on the Homecoming link for a full schedule.

My job as alumni director at the Fort will keep me nearly sleepless this weekend with Homecoming duties. I did some research on the topic for the Top Shelf list this week to find some favorite Homecoming traditions (as well as their origins) around the country:

• Homecoming games: Missouri is often credited for starting this tradition by welcoming alumni home for its “Border War” with Kansas in 1911.

• Flaming outhouses: As indoor plumbing came into vogue, wooden outhouses were often the best source of free wood for bonfires. You’ll see one in FLC’s parade at 6 p.m. Friday.

• Tailgate parties: Grills, face-painters and cold beer.

• Parades: God bless Bluto and the Deltas.

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