The stripes, Salute to America and Coco Montoya

by Chris Aaland

If you’ve read this column in the past, you no doubt know I’m a huge sports fan. If you’ve known me longer, you know I have a love-hate relationship with referees. My basketball career, from pee-wee games through high school through city rec leagues, was riddled with technical fouls.

I’ve always had a high level of respect for people who don the stripes. Many collegiate referees became close friends through the two decades of work I’ve done in intercollegiate athletics. These men and women epitomize all that is sacred in their respective game.

Two recent sporting events brought up the yin and yang of officiating, though. When Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base last month, he cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game — what would have been the third in the majors this season. When Joyce watched the video after the game, he marched into the Tigers’ clubhouse, admitted his mistake and forged a link with Galarraga that will stand for all of time. He transcended sport with both his mistake and acceptance of his decision. Joyce did something that few of us do: admitted he was wrong. He achieved a perfection the rest of us should aspire to.

Then there are the World Cup referees and, worse yet, soccer’s governing body, FIFA. Two decisions made by officials nearly cost the U.S. a chance to advance to the knockout round. But these paled in comparison to two referees’ blunders Sunday that hamstrung England and Mexico vs. Germany and Argentina, respectively. FIFA refused to comment on these calls and, worse yet, steadfastly ignored repeated demands to embrace replay technology.

Hear me now, FIFA President Joseph Blatter: look to Jim Joyce for a lesson in accountability.

All I can hope for now is a victory by Die Mannschaft. Otto drew them in a random draw at a local pub and his 529 college savings plan can use an extra couple hundred bucks. Like many Americans, my dreams died when Ghana ousted the Yanks last Saturday. Rest assured: your sparklers, PBRs and hot dogs will find good use this week.

For most of us outside of the 1.1 square miles of individuality known as Bayfield (where freedom’s resistance to tyranny will be celebrated on July 3 so as not to interfere with church services), Independence Day will be celebrated on Sunday. In Durango, that means a host of Salute to America events, including the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast (7:30-10:30 a.m., Rotary Park), the Freedom 5K (9 a.m., Rotary Park), Fort Lewis College’s “American Voices: Public Readings” (11 a.m., Buckley Park), a family picnic, BBQ cook-off, DBC and Coors beer garden, free music and more (11 a.m.-6 p.m., Buckley Park), the Stars & Stripes Parade (6 p.m., Main Ave.), a street dance with the High Rollers (6:30-9 p.m., Main Ave.) and fireworks (9:15 p.m., the sky above your head).

The Durango Elks Lodge hosts its inaugural 4th of July open house Sunday, with a BBQ in the parking lot, beer and wine tent, bake sale, kids’ activities and tours of the lodge with a free wine tasting within.

Those in the know know that Silverton’s legendary 4th of July celebration includes the Blue Ribbon 10K, the International Rhubarb Festival, parade, potluck in the park, a performance by the Silverton Brass Band, firefighter water fights and a majestic fireworks salute booming off the San Juans. I’ve done it many times, usually incorporating an hour or two of fly-fishing on pristine creeks after the rhubarb pie is long gone. It’s worth the venture northward.

Albert Collins disciple Coco Montoya plays the Purple Haze at 8 p.m. Wednesday. A former member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Montoya is best known as a leftie who plays a right-handed guitar upside-down (low strings on the bottom). Think Doyle Bramhall II or Albert King.

Piano and Tibetan flute take center stage at the Millwood Junction in Mancos 8 p.m. Wednesday as Peter Kater & Nawang Khechog perform. Kater is a six-time Grammy nominated pianist and composer; Khechog is Tibet’s premier flutist.

Texas singer-songwriter Chris Watson and his band play the Abbey at 8 p.m. Friday. The bluesy rocker has shared stages with Buddy Guy, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, .38 Special, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tab Benoit and others.

Soular System, a funk/rock/soul group from Florida, grooves at Steamworks at 10 p.m. Saturday. They’ve been around for more than 10 years and recently released their second album, “Fight the Future.” Featuring P-Funk keyboardist Danny Bedrosian, they’ve shared bills with Government Mule, De La Soul, Earth, Wind & Fire, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Chicago and others.

Janiva Magness is one of two women to win the Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year; the late, great Koko Taylor was the other. Her brand of R&B graces the Abbey’s stage at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The Summit’s lineup includes the SEEN release party with Red Eyed Djinn, Stone 66, Diabolic Sound Platoon & Benjamin K at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday, July 1); the First Friday event with Apco, Pseudo Slang, Modjll, DJ Mowgli and a live visual artist Friday; and the Lawn Chair Kings with Jaki & the Joysticks on Sunday.

Elsewhere: Bluesy Doug Phillips at the weekly Ska-B-Q 5-7 p.m. tonight; Katrina & Cook in their weekly DBC gig 7-10 p.m. tonight; the Mac Jazz Trio at the Starlight 6-9 p.m. Friday; Cosmic Accident at the Purple Haze 6-10 p.m. Friday; Beat Lust spinning vinyl at the Cosmopolitan from 9-close Friday & Saturday; Gigi Love at the Durango Farmers Market on Saturday morning; Katrina & Cook at the DBC BBQ at the Starlight 4:30-8 p.m. Saturday; the Jelly Belly Boogie Band at Vallecito’s Schank House 8-midnight Saturday; and Motivator at the Derailed Saloon 9 p.m. tonight.

This week’s Top Shelf list ranks my three World Cup favorites based on pool play and the first round of knockouts:

- Brazil. Are you kidding me?

- Argentina. Maradona’s boys can score like nobody else.

- Germany. These youngsters are for real.

His bowtie is really a camera? E-mail me at



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