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Greensky Bluegrass plays the Abbey this Friday night

Union busting, Greensky Bluegrass and Marinade

by Chris Aaland

I rescued a couple of old, wooden picture frames from the home of a friend’s deceased mother a few months back. One of them framed a print of a charcoal etching of Hubert H. Humphrey with a quote he delivered to the Minnesota State AFL-CIO Convention in 1977: “The history of the labor movement needs to be taught in every school in this land … America is a living testimonial to what free men and women, organized in free democratic trade unions, can do to make a better life … We ought to be proud of it!”

For whatever reason, today’s Tea Baggers tend to brand unions and their sympathizers as Communists. To wit: a recent conversation between my staunchly conservative father-in-law, extremely liberal brother-in-law and I turned ugly when discussing the recent collective bargaining agreement reached by the NFL and its players. Pops thought the players were being selfish. Bro-in-law and I took the opposite stance that the billionaire owners were the greedy ones unwilling to separate with what amounts to chump change for them.

Regardless, I’m happy that the two sides came together to salvage the season, not to mention the next 10. While this Sunday’s Hall of Fame game was cancelled, the hitting starts in earnest in a week (Thurs., Aug. 11) with a full slate of preseason tilts. I’m equally excited that player health and safety issues and retired player benefits were addressed. These guys leave it all on the field every Sunday, suffer lifetime disabilities and have, by and large, a much shorter life expectancy than you or I. Sure, they make millions. But athletes, much like artists, actors and musicians, deserve as big a piece of the pie as possible.

Greensky Bluegrass is back in town, this time at the Abbey Theatre at 8 p.m. on Friday, with local newgrass heroes Waiting on Trial in tow. The quintet is putting the finishing touches on its fourth studio CD, “Handguns,” and touring in support of the second in their “All Access” live CD series. Comprised of Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (bass), Paul Hoffman (mandolin) and Durango expatriate Anders Beck (dobro), Greensky has earned its reputation as one of the hardest working bands in the newgrass/jam band world. They played more than 160 shows a year since bursting onto the scene in 2006 by winning the Telluride Bluegrass band competition. In fact, Relix Magazine put them on the cover this year and named them one of the “Stars of Summer” for their nonstop touring and frequent festival appearances. The pairing of bands on the Abbey’s bill allows for a possible jam between Beck and WOT’s Robin Davis, who were bandmates in the Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band and Wayword Sons.

This Thurs., Aug. 4, marks National I.P.A. Day, so those kooky kids at Ska have crafted a Modus & metal-themed Ska-B-Q. Enjoy cheap pints of cask conditioned Modus Hoperandi and the head-banging sounds of Music Destroyer from 5-7 p.m. If that doesn’t butter your bread, come out Friday after work for the local reggae and rock of Ten Cent Raise followed by this month’s bike-in movie, “Strange Brew,” at dusk.  Bring a blanket or chair, ride your bike, scooter or cruiser, and get free popcorn with your beer purchase.

This week also marks another Firkin Friday at Steamworks, in which the local brewery taps a special cask of beer at 3 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. August’s offering is Devil’s Fruit Basket, which starts with the Belgian strong golden Ale Diablo and blends fresh Palisade tart pie cherries. Ale Diablo is already noted for its peppery spice and fruity, clove-like notes, soft tartness of green apple and a slight citrus taste derived from the use of Riesling and Gewürztraminer grape must. The army of local beer geeks is a loyal bunch who doesn’t miss this monthly event, so show up early if you want a taste of this one-of-a-kind brew.

The Summit’s Scottie Sindelar has booked many of his favorites this week for your musical enjoyment, including the Thirsty Thursday pairing of Marinade with Brian Ernst. With a name like Marinade, this Salt Lake City outfit is just what you’d expect: a juicy and succulent combination of blues, reggae, funk and psychedelia. Ernst is somewhat of an activist/troubadour who wanders the country spreading goodwill.

Then Scottie wheels out hip-hop on the First Friday pairing of music with visual arts. Ariano, who just cut a track with Snoop Dogg, is on the bill, along with Nu3tron, DJ Stimulus, Rural American Poetry and live art battles pitting Jon Hunt and Ben Fisher against Josh Jone and Jelo. This also kicks off six months of Art Wars, in which artists battle it out on stage and the crowd passes judgment.

A standout on the Starlight’s lineup this week is Saturday night, when the Honey Suckles present “Phallecy,” an all-female art show featuring live body painting and music by DJ Mateo from 8 ‘til close. This week’s FAC features one of my favorite local acts, Jack 10 High, from 6-9 p.m. Also on tap: DJ Soultron’s Salsa Night at 8 p.m. tonight; even more Soultron at 9 p.m. Friday; and Musica del Mundo at 9 p.m. Sunday. At Tuesday’s regular Karaoke/open mic night, performers have the chance to win a Fender Stratocaster guitar courtesy of Katzin Music.

More stuff: High Altitude Blues rocks the DoubleTree Hotel’s Animas River Café at 5 p.m. tonight; Black Velvet plays Rylee Mac’s patio at 5 p.m. Friday and the Balcony Bar & Grill at 5 p.m. Monday; Freeplay does a freebie at El Rancho at 10 p.m. Saturday; and DJs CSO and Peter Robot spin at the Summit at 10 p.m. Saturday.

In honor of National I.P.A. Day, this week’s Top Shelf list recounts some of my favorite Colorado IPAs:
1. Ska Modus Hoperandi: Denver craft beer examiner Rick
2. Blankemeier called it a “contemplative IPA.”
3. Steamworks Third Eye: Legendary beer author Michael Jackson compared it to “a singer composing herself before launching herself into a Sondheim score.”
4. Breckenridge Lucky U: A nice starting point for IPA novices.
5. Oskar Blues Gordon: A double-hopped IPA not for the faint of heart.
6. Avery Maharaja: God’s own tonic.

The unions have been busted, their proud red banners torn? E-mail me at