Franti in Grandview, Dubskin and return of Oatie Paste

by Chris Aaland

A concert promoter’s life is thankless and hectic. Concerts are risky ventures, both for nonprofit groups and people choosing to make a living in the music biz.

Take, for instance, last weekend’s RockyGrass. One of the festival’s headliners, Tony Rice, pulled out due to elbow and back injuries. So Planet Bluegrass czar Craig Ferguson and his staff worked the phones for the better part of the week to assemble an all-star cast to replace Tony’s three scheduled performances. David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Dan Tyminski, Wyatt Rice and others arrived in Lyons to fill the void.

And then there’s our own Tami Graham. Years ago, she was president and booking contact for the Durango Society of Cultural and Performing Arts and station manager for KDUR. After a few away, a master’s degree and a career change, she began resurfacing in occasional live music productions. Now she’s gone full circle with her own business, Tami Graham Presents.

Tami’s presentation of Michael Franti & Spearhead in Mancos in 2008 was such a huge hit that she’s bringing the eclectic and socially conscious artist to Three Springs this Sunday for the summer’s most anticipated local music event. Franti’s latest album, “All Rebel Rockers,” is the most successful of his 20-year career, spawning his biggest hit, “Say Hey (I Love You).” Franti’s journeys have taken him from the intense punk rock of the Beatnigs to the political rap he made with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy to the modern soul of Spearhead. Gates open at 1 p.m., with DJ I-Gene spinning music immediately. San Francisco-based folk/pop singer Brett Dennen (who was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 10 artists to watch in 2007) takes the stage at 3:30 p.m., with Franti & Spearhead cranking things up at 5 p.m. Save $5 per ticket by purchasing in advance at Animas Trading Co. and the Three Springs Information Center. A VIP package is available for $100 that includes VIP parking, covered seating adjacent to the stage, and complimentary wine, beer and appetizers.

Three Springs is a relatively new venue for many, so here’s the skinny: it’s festival seating, meaning low-back chairs, blankets, tarps and coolers are OK; glass containers and outside alcohol are not. Beer and wine will be sold at the event (benefitting KSUT and a fledgling local nonprofit that will promote ecologically friendly events) and free water will be available. If you have four or more people in your car, parking at Three Springs is free; if there are three or fewer people in your car, parking costs $5 with proceeds benefitting the Mercy Health Foundation. Of course, eco-friendly transportation is encouraged, including a free trolley service with pick-up and drop-off at the Durango Mall every half-hour.

A post-Franti after-party (age 21+) will be held at the Abbey Theatre on Sunday, featuring the Fort Collins-based roots and dub reggae outfit, Dubskin. Doors open at 8 p.m., with music starting at 9. Dubskin’s summer also includes an appearance at Reggae on the Rock. Their second album, “No End in Time,” was mixed and dubbed by Jocko Randall of John Brown’s Body.

The Abbey also presents a night of hip-hop with Sapient, DJ Nykon, Halfman Half and Definition Rare at 9 p.m. Saturday. Sapient is a rare breed of emcee that focuses on discernment and rhythm as well as words and melodies. He’s best known for his work with the 10-person crew, Sandpeople.

Buntron Smith, a five-piece band from Crested Butte, brings its mix of ska, rock and reggae to town for a pair of gigs Friday. At 5 p.m., they’ll play the Ska Brewing World Headquarters in Bodo Park. They also do a late-night show (with CB Derels on the bill) at the Summit Friday.

The Dirk Quinn Band plays the Summit on Wednesday. Quinn is a Philadelphia-based guitarist who has utilized nearly a decade of steady performing to develop a unique and progressive style that sits somewhere between jazz, funk and rock. His thirst for the unique and bizarre soon had him jamming along to the more radical and daring Mahavishnu Orchestra and the humorous, bass-laden noise of Primus. Jazz masters like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Dave Brubeck along with the more contemporary sounds of Béla Fleck, John Scofield, Ahmad Jamal and Jaco Pastorius heavily influenced his music.

Oatie Paste was once a major player in the Durango music scene — so much so that they moved to Denver last September to establish themselves in a bigger market. They return to the Summit with their catchy blend of ska and pop-punk Saturday.

Happy birthday to Black Velvet’s Nina Sasaki! She’ll be joined by friends and musicians, including Larry Carver, Randy Crumbaugh and others, for a special birthday show at the Derailed Saloon at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday, July 29). Black Velvet also plays a 5-9 p.m. Derailed date with Ben Gibson of the Tumblin’ on Friday.

Elsewhere: Hello Dollface plays the weekly Thursday night Ska-B-Q at 5 p.m. tonight; Kirk James does solo blues at Rylee Mac’s from 5-8 p.m. tonight; DJ Treazon performs at the Summit tonight; High Altitude Blues, featuring Jack Ellis and Jeff Dysinger, plays the Balcony Bar & Grill at 5 p.m. Friday; the Kirk James Blues Band is at the Purple Haze from 6-10 p.m. Friday; the Get Backs return to the Billy Goat Saloon in Gem Village at 9 p.m. Friday; and pianist Jonas Grushkin tickles the ivories at the Durango Farmers Market Saturday.

This week’s Top Shelf List? RockyGrass highlights, of course.

- Broke Mountain reunion jams at the Wakeman/Fishy campsite. All five original members were joined by Bryn Davies, Josh Williams and Tyler Grant, among others.

-The Sarah Siskind/Travis Book songwriting workshop.

-The refurbished family area along the St. Vrain. Hundreds of kids spent each day playing in the world’s greatest sandbox.

-Doc Watson in a truly legendary performance.

-Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice. The best traditional bluegrass at the festival.

-Hanging with Open Road’s Caleb Meyer. The guy should be on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. •

Know when the stars are aligned? Email me at



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