The Wranglers, Stillwater and last-minute vinyl


by Chris Aaland

Holiday traditions don’t get much better than singing festive songs with family and friends. Caroling, wassailing, belting out “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” after one too-many eggnogs with Uncle Ernie … it’s all in the spirit of the season. Durango’s much-beloved country crooners step off the ranch and into the Community Concert Hall for the annual Bar-D Wranglers Christmas Jubilee at 7 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Dec. 16). The Wranglers have entertained tens of thousands annually since being formed by Cy Scarborough in 1969. Now an octogenarian, Cy, the elder statesman of the Durango music scene, is expected to join his former bandmates to spread Yuletide cheer.

Israeli superstar David Broza plays the Community Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Friday. The singer/guitarist fuses the three countries of his heritage — Israel, Spain and England — into an urban folk-rock sound.

The Stillwater Foundation hosts a fund-raising concert and silent auction at 5 p.m. Friday at the Derailed Saloon. Eight bands in the bluegrass, rock, jazz, Latin/fusion and blues genres will perform. Auction items include a new acoustic guitar printed with the lyrics from the Chris Young hit “Getting’ You Home” (signed by the songwriters, plus a Young-signed CD); a complete set of Garth Brooks CDs with T-shirts, coffee mugs and an autographed photo; a Jim Rey Western art print; and a Sandra Butler original drawing. Admission is $5 (free for kids 12 and younger), with all proceeds benefitting the Stillwater Foundation.

The Durango Elks Lodge hosts an open house at 2 p.m. on Sunday, offering tours of the building and museum, a free wine tasting, snacks, a toy drive with the Boy Scouts for the Toys for Tots program and a “Winter Wonderland” in the ballroom for kids.

The Summit teams with Mountain Mayhem to present a XXX Mas Party with Benjamin K, Peter Robot, Smiley Coyote and Make Believe, plus pictures with Naughty Santa, mistletoe mischief and a sexiest costume contest.

Pam and Scott Eastwood have owned the 501 Café in Bayfield, but are losing their business. Their last open jam will take place at 6 p.m. Friday. The official last hurrah is Saturday night, with a potluck dinner (bring food to share), door prizes, live music, dancing and more. Dinner starts at 6, festivities at 7.

Local musicians unite! KDUR hosts AC/DC Cover Night on Sat., Feb. 12, at the Summit. Mark your calendars now and work on those Bon Scott pipes. Just don’t worry about learning “You Shook Me All Night Long” … those scoundrels in the Lawn Chair Kings have already reserved that one. How clever.

There’s a lot happening at local bars and other venues the next two weeks. Just refer to the Telegraph’s “On the Town” calendar for all the dirt.

Lo and behold, it’s last-minute shopping time again. Fear not, my procrastinating friends. This week’s Top Shelf list recounts my top 10 albums of the year — just in time to bail you out. My Top 10 list has rules, though … namely, I had to listen to the record. My tastes lean heavily toward alt-country twang and old-time rock & roll, so if you’re expecting Kanye, Taylor or Gaga, then read no further:

10) Bruce Springsteen, “The Promise.” It took the Boss nearly three years to sort out contractual differences with his record label back in the mid ‘70s. Thus, he had a rather fruitful writing and recording spree between 1975 - ’78, even if none of the efforts landed on an album. These 21 tracks represent the outtakes and inspiration that eventually led to “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”

9) Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street, Deluxe Edition.” Banished from America and evading heavy taxes in England, the Stones holed themselves up in Keef’s French manor and produced arguably the greatest rock & roll record ever. Ten leftovers from those sessions make up the bonus disc. “Good Time Women” and “Pass the Wine (Sophia Lauren)” make this collection reason enough to upgrade.

8) The Railbenders, “Like a Wheel.” Denver’s honky-tonk heroes explore country’s trucker-song subgenre in a way that would have made Dave Dudley and Del Reeves proud.

7) Halden Wofford + the Hi-Beams, “Sinners & Saints.” This Front Range act has always seemed mired in retro Western swing and honky-tonk, save for a couple of novelty hits like “Betty Boop” and “Hippie in My House.” That and, of course, their explosive live energy, capable of wrestling a bluegrass festival away from the hippies and placing it back into loving redneck arms. Their third album is a vehicle for Wofford’s songwriting and the subtle if not stellar instrumentation of Greg Schochet and Bret Billings.

6) Chatham County Line, “Wildwood.” This is a band maturing into its prime. The North Carolinians have morphed from bluegrass wunderkinds into an Americana outfit ready to break free into — gasp! — singer-songwriter territory. For longtime fans of CCL frontman Dave Wilson, this is no surprise.

5) Robert Plant, “Band of Joy.” If you wondered whether or not the Golden God could churn out another Americana classic without the assistance of Alison Krauss, think again. Produced by T-Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller, “Band of Joy” suggests that “Raising Sand” succeeded in spite of Alison.

4) Caleb Klauder, “Western Country.” Klauder is no stranger to Durango, having appeared here with the old-time outfit, the Foghorn Stringband, several Meltdowns ago. His latest effort finds him exploring classic country, a la Hank and Lefty.

3) Bob Dylan, “The Witmark Demos, 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series, Vol. 9).” This two-disc set showcases the young tunesmith (all recorded before he was 24 years old) pitching songs to his publisher. It’s a journey into the psyche of a generation.

2) The Sadies, “Darker Circles.” Throughout its career, this Ontario act has dabbled in rock, country, psychedelia, bluegrass and surf. When the Sadies are their best, all of these genres morph into a unique and sophisticated wall of sound.

1) The Defibulators, “Corn Money.” The Defibulators are to Brooklyn what the Asylum Street Spankers are to Austin … only New York City isn’t exactly a Mecca of hard twang. Gypsylike in their absorption of influences, you hear jug band, bluegrass, Dixieland, folk, rockabilly, swing and honky-tonk on their sophomore effort, with clever if not irreverent lyrics interspersed throughout. This band’s on the rise.

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