Top Shelf

Carolyn Wonderland headlines Fridya night's evening of women's blues at the Abbey. The event is a fund-raiser for WRC, SASO and Big Brothers Big Sisters

Wonderland, the Sickness and Mischievous Mistress

by Chris Aaland

Tonight (Thur., Aug. 18) is Ladies’ Night.

First, the Abbey Theatre hosts an evening of women’s blues to benefit three progressive and influential local organizations – Sexual Assaults Services Organization (SASO), the Women’s Resource Center, and Big Brothers Big Sisters – at 8 p.m. Performers include Carolyn Wonderland, the Sue Foley & Peter Karp duo and Meagan Tubb & Shady People. Wonderland is an Austin institution, hammering out blues guitar solos while embracing the Texas musical potpourri of country, Western swing, zydeco, surf, gospel and soul. Musical icons like Bob Dylan and Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson are among her most ardent supporters. Foley is a Canadian who found her way to Austin in the early 1990s and has regularly released albums on the Antone’s and Shanachie labels. Most recently, she’s recorded “He Said – She Said” with bluesman Peter Karp (a former collaborator with ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor).

Tubb incorporates vintage Southern rock into her blues. In between acts, the three local organizations will speak and distribute information.

Concurrently, Adrian & the Sickness return to the Derailed Saloon. You may recall Adrian in her role as Angus Young in the Hell’s Belles AC/DC tribute act – one that the Aussie axeman himself endorses as the real deal. The Belles, incidentally, are wrapping up an album produced by former GoGo’s bassist Kathy Valentine. Adrian will share the stage later this summer with such classic rockers as Pat Benatar, Ace Freeley and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

The aforementioned Tubb sticks around town an extra day for a Friday affair at the Summit. With Shady People, she also incorporates funk and Americana into a Southern rock and blues-based sound. They feature three-part harmonies and twin lead guitars and have opened for such Lone Star icons as Willie Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Billy Joe Shaver.

On Friday, hip-hop reigns supreme as Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson take over the Abbey at 9 p.m. Aesop was at the forefront of the new wave of underground and alternative hip-hop acts of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. He’s a member of such groups as the Weathermen, Hail Mary Mallon and Two of Every Animal. Dawson is best known as Adam Green’s counterpart in the Moldy Peaches. Since that duo went on hiatus in 2004, she’s released a string of lo-fi homemade albums and toured across North America and Europe.

The third annual Taos Mountain Music Festival brings such diverse acts as Matisyahu, Railroad Earth, Ozomatli, Leftover Salmon, Donna the Buffalo, Jackie Greene Duo and others to Northern New Mexico’s premier ski resort Saturday and Sunday. If you’ve been to a similar hippie love fest in Telluride, Pagosa Springs or Lyons, you know the drill: on-site camping and porta-potties for commoners, fancy hotels with running water in the valley for the rich folk. There’s also a Kid’s Zone (Jumpy castle! Face painting!), festival food and even a late-night venue ominously named the Martini Tree Bar.

Larry Carver was once a member of the San Francisco rock outfit Void Where Prohibited. The group occasionally reunites, as they do this weekend for 8 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday at the Derailed Saloon. The Void plays classic rock and blues from all the usual suspects: Hendrix, ZZ Top, Skynyrd, the Doors, Cream, Petty and the Stones. Nina Sasaki opens the Friday gig with an hour-long happy hour set at 6 p.m.

The Balcony Bar & Grill goes honky-tonk Friday with Farmington Hill and the Crags at 6 p.m. Erik Nordstrom – the King of the Hill, so to speak, given he fronts both the Lawn Chair Kings and Farmington Hill – is rumored to be putting the finishing touches on a Farmington Hill album … but that’s just the word on the street. Perhaps there were too many Utica Lights consumed the last time the Kings rocked the Balcony – the only place I know of where you can get a $2 can of that truly-awful-yet-addictive retro swill.

Apes Tapes and Mischievous Productions presents an all-ages music showcase at 9 p.m. Friday at the Backspace Theatre (11th and Main), featuring Mischievous Mistress (Portland, Ore.), Eggs Leggs (Colorado Springs) and Whale Logic (from right here in Durango). Talk about old school: Apes Tapes is an artist-run cassette tape label based in Portland that releases cassettes of original and inspired local music often with free digital downloads.

The Starlight’s slate is highlighted by a Saturday pairing of art and music. Honeysuckle presents the all-female “Pain and Pleasure” art show, accompanied by music from Lush and Smiley Coyote at 9 p.m. The eclectic week also includes regular events like Salsa Night with DJ Soultron (tonight), FAC from 6-9 p.m. Friday (this week featuring the instrumental grooves of Skinny Gotta Eat), Musica del Mundo (9 p.m. Sunday), dog night on the patio (free treats for Fido from 8 ‘til close Monday) and Karaoke/open mic night (win a Fender Stratocaster courtesy of Katzin Music at 8 p.m. Tuesday).

Elsewhere: Taj Weekes & Adowa deliver roots reggae to the Summit’s Thirsty Thursday; High Altitude Blues plays on the river patio of the DoubleTree’s Animas River Café at 5 p.m. tonight; Fuzzy Killing Machine brings indie rock to tonight’s Ska-B-Q from 5-7 p.m. in Bodo Park; and Bret Mosley returns to the Summit with his folk and blues Saturday.

In honor of Carolyn Wonderland, Sue Foley and Meagan Tubb, this week’s Top Shelf list recounts my five favorite women of the blues:
1. Memphis Minnie. A pioneer in the 1920s who took country blues into electric territory. Back in the day, she was considered an equal to Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red.
2. Willa Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. She sang “Hound Dog” years before Elvis.
3. Bonnie Raitt. I’m particularly enamored with her pre-“Nick of Time” albums, ones that were folk-blues classics in the 1970s and early ‘80s.
4. Koko Taylor. The Queen of the Blues, may she rest in peace. One of my favorite concert-producing memories was Koko belting out commands to DSCPA board members (in tune, no less), “Close the door, no more signatures and where’s my money!” after one of them asked for an autograph.
5. Etta James. Her two decades on the Chess label were pivotal in opening the door for countless women.

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