A visit with Keith, Costaki and Thirsty Thursdays

by Chris Aaland

I spent much of Turkey Day and its adjacent calendar dates curled up on the couch with the new Keith Richards autobiography, Life.

For me, book reading has never come easy. I’m not sure if I’m afflicted with some sort of learning disorder or not – there are no fancy letters following my name that give me license to dole out such prognosis – I just know that my mind wanders. I’ll start a new paragraph and lo and behold, I’ll be right back at the start of the same paragraph for the third or fourth time, having grasped almost nothing. Complicating matters is the fact that I can do almost nothing without music in the background or a game on TV. Much of the time, there are both. So knocking off a book over the course of a few days is no small feat, one worthy of some chest-puffing on my part.

Life comes easy, though. And Keef’s life is just more interesting than the ordinary guy’s. He alternately weaves tales of debauchery, family and music. The first two or three years that he, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones spent together not only formed the crux of what would become the Rolling Stones, but it arguably cemented the bond between the blues and rock & roll that forever changed popular music. He waxes poetically about picking up a new Chess 45 by Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry or Muddy Waters in the early ‘60s and how he, Mick and Brian would obsess over it for days on end, learning how to recreate not just guitar, bass and harmonica, but horns, piano and other sounds. In this case, having an iPod filled with old blues, country, R&B and rock came in handy. When Keef writes about Bo Diddley, I listen to Bo Diddley and suddenly can both read about and listen to the influence and understand a little better. Take that, ADD.

But let’s face it, our collective fascination with rock & rollers has little to do with tales about “Mum buying me first guitar and me collection of Jimmy Reed records.” That’s all well and good, Keef. We want the dirt. We want mud sharks and groupies and the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, circa Led Zeppelin in 1969. And the opening chapter, describing a botched drug bust in Arkansas on July 4th weekend in 1975 as Keith and others drove from Memphis to Dallas in between tour dates, doesn’t disappoint. Copious amounts of chemicals were stashed in their car, including several varieties that required online research to know exactly what the old bloke was describing. Richards maintains that he was an addict in the 1970s, and that he’s been relatively clean since. By relatively clean, I think he means sayonara to smack and smack alone. It seems he occasionally enjoys a good puff, glass of wine and grinding his dad’s ashes into a line of blow. But hey, who’s counting?

It’s a great read. Life should be at the top of Santa’s List. If you already own it, then that Jimmy Reed box set at Southwest Sound would work nicely (nudge nudge, wink wink).

If you’re shopping for laughs, buy early. Comedy comes to the Abbey this week in the form of Mark Lee’s “Costaki Economopoulos,” with shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. A regular on the Bob & Tom Show, Costaki’s humor has been described as smart, pointed, hip, sharp, insightful, socially relevant and, most importantly, gut-busting.

Farmington Hill (Bubba, Katie, the Nord, et al) plays its last show of the year with Salem at the Pride of the West in scenic Silverton at 8 p.m. Saturday. It’s the sixth annual season kickoff party, sponsored by Venture Snowboards and Ska Brewing.

The Summit is launching “Thirsty Thursdays Feed the Hungry.” On each Thursday through Jan. 6, a different act will perform. Scottie realizes that folks don’t like separating from their hard-earned dough, so he’s offering this alternative: Bring two cans of food and the cover will be waived; bring one, and cover is half price, with proceeds benefiting the Manna Soup Kitchen. This week’s act is J. Wail.

Also at the Summit this week: Eric Kiefer’s acoustic happy hour from 6 - 9 p.m. Friday; the First Friday audio/visual event featuring Def Rare and a live visual artists at 10 p.m. Friday; Rupnow & friends acoustic happy hour from 6 - 9 p.m. Saturday; Celestial Hoedown at 10 p.m. Saturday; and the Chicharones featuring Sleepy and Josh Martinez on Wednesday.

The Starlight hosts “Hip-Hop Back on the Block” Saturday night. This event features J. Swane, Erik James and Spark Madden. Expect lots of old school breaks, reggae, hip-hop, house, new wave and synth pop.

More Starlight happenings: Salsa Night with DJ Double D, 8 to close tonight; dancing with DJ Double D 8 - close Friday; Musica del Mundo 9 to close Sunday; and a book signing for Hans Hollenbeck’s High Point from 5 - 8 p.m. Monday.

Other stuff: Aftergrass at the weekly Chili Night, held each Thursday evening at the Ska Brewing World Headquarters; Spinning Wheels play the Mancos Valley Distillery from five ‘til midnight Friday; and Black Velvet has two Durango gigs this week, one at Desperado’s with Randy Crumbaugh of the Jelly Belly Boogie Band on Friday, the other at Sweeney’s on Saturday.

This week’s Top Shelf list explores my favorite Keith Richards musical moments:

1. “Happy,” from “Exile on Main St.,” 1972. Keef’s signature lead vocal.

2. “Salt of the Earth,” from “Beggars Banquet,” 1968. When Richards “drinks to the hard working people,” you do, too.

3. “Thru and Thru,” from “Voodoo Lounge,” 1994. Richards’ blues from the most underrated Stones album of all time.

4. “Before They Make Me Run,” from “Some Girls,” 1978. I like Steve Earle’s version with the Supersuckers, too.

5. “Little T&A,” from Tattoo You, 1980. A solid rocker.

6. “Too Rude,” from “Dirty Work,” 1986. Jimmy Cliff and Keef split lead vocal duties on this reggae cover.

7. “Talk Is Cheap” album, 1988. Keith’s solo debut fuels the Jagger-Richards feud.

8. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” from “Out of Our Heads,” 1965. Keith claims to have written and recorded the famous riff in his sleep.

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