Playoffs, Lyrics Born and the Squash Blossom Boys

by Chris Aaland

Are you ready for some football? I hope so, because it’s all that matters for sports fans once January rolls around. And what a January it’s already been! Three of the four NFL Wild Card games were epic battles with but one lone snoozer – and let’s face it, who really gives a damn about the Kansas City Chiefs (or KC anything, for that matter). We watched as both of last year’s Super Bowl combatants went down swinging. We saw a lowly 7-9 Seattle team advance. We cheered as the most engaging and funny fat guy since John Candy finally led his Jets past Peyton Manning’s Colts. And those annoying Cheeseheads rejoiced as the churlish and smug Philly fanatics watched their Eagles lose to the Pack.

A great weekend was amazingly topped off by a BCS National Championship that lived up to its hype Monday. Like most folks, I envisioned some sort of a 50-49 track meet between Auburn and Oregon. Little did I know that defenses would steal the day: turnovers, safeties, goal line stands that forced chip-shot field goals, and quarterbacks slapped around like piñatas. Amazingly, it was a tackle that wasn’t a tackle – Mike Dyer rolled over a would-be Oregon tackler and his knee never touched the turf – that led to the winning field goal.

In the end, the team from football’s powerhouse conference bested the upstart funded by Phil Knight’s Nike megabillions. That’s five in a row for the SEC, a win-at-all-costs conference that I truly despise.

Sadly, the big-money NCAA Division I brand of football isn’t the game of the clean-cut, boy-next-door, Roger Staubach-type heroes of your youth anymore. Looking at Auburn vs. Oregon you have:

- A Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback whose father tried to sell him to the highest bidder;

- An Oregon program whose NFL Hall of Fame alumni – Dan Fouts, Norm Van Brocklin, Gary Zimmerman and others – are overshadowed by LeGarrette Blount, who notoriously tried to brawl with Boise State players, students and even his own teammates and coaches following a 2009 loss;

- The worst uniforms money can buy. In Oregon’s case, five new sets per year thanks to Nike.

Not that Oregon and Auburn have monopolies on Big Men on Campus behaving badly. Ohio State saw five players suspended for nearly half of next season for trading their championship rings, jerseys and other souvenirs for tattoos at a Columbus ink house.

But that’s the Big Time. We here in Mayberry just get to watch the madness unfold … in HD, no less.

In local action, the Abbey hosts a hip-hop and funk twin bill featuring Lyrics Born and Keys • Krates at 9 p.m. Friday. Lyrics Born, aka Tommy Shimura, traces his roots to the UC-Davis radio station, KDVS, and an old stack of vinyl records, or so the story goes. For nearly 15 years, he’s been a pillar in the Bay Area hip-hop scene. Keys • Krates features the dynamic Adam Tune on drums, world champion turntablist Jr-Flo on turntables and the ever-soulful Matisse on keyboards. They combine live instrumentation, turntablism and live sampling to remix pop music favorites.

Bluegrass up-and-comers the Squash Blossom Boys play the Summit at 10 p.m. Friday. The Corrales, N.M., outfit is an eclectic bluegrass quartet that brings together elements of jazz, rock, reggae, Cajun, old-time and traditional roots bluegrass. For argument’s sake, let’s just call it what it is: newgrass. Sam Bush, John Hartford, Peter Rowan, David Grisman and others stretched the boundaries of bluegrass in the 1970s and it’s worked ever since. And for the Squash Blossom Boys, it’s led to gigs ranging from festivals and performing arts centers to bars and restaurants to the back of a moving tractor trailer. These guys are worth the tiny cover at the door.

Austin-based Wisebird does blues, rock and soul in the vein of the Allman Brothers and other jammy Southern rockers. They return to Durango for a 10 p.m. gig Saturday at the Summit. Featuring Trevor Nealon (keyboards, vocals), Will Webster (guitar, vocals), Dave Meservny (drums, vocals) and Joe Beckham (bass), Wisebird has shared the stage with such distinguished acts as the Derek Trucks Band, Doobie Brothers, the Avett Brothers and Hot Buttered Rum. And, for the record, the Doobies are cooler than you think. Bryant Liggett requested “South City Midnight Lady” last month on my “Cask Strength” radio program on KDUR just because of the tasty pedal steel guitar lick. And we all know that Liggett is Durango’s most discerning critic.

This week’s Summit lineup includes Hello Dollface at 9 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Jan. 13); Eric Kiefer during acoustic happy hour from 6-9 p.m. Friday; Rupnow & friends at acoustic happy hour from 6-9 p.m. Saturday; the return of open mic night Tuesday; and DJ Double D’s karaoke/Gong Show on Wednesday.

Durango DOT Comedy gets back into the groove when it unleashes its Mega Laff Mix Vol. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Durango Arts Center. As always, the crowd chooses the improv games and actors for each scene. One-dollar Ska beers will fuel the madness.

The slate o’ fun at the Starlight this week includes DJ Caliente spinning during Salsa Night tonight, DJ Double D on Friday, Niko and Mr. Anderson on Saturday, Musica del Mundo on Sunday, still yet even more DJ Double D karaoke joy Monday and an open mic Tuesday.

Also of note: What’s New brings alternative rock to the weekly Ska-B-Q in Bodo Park tonight; the Jelly Belly Boogie Band rocks the Billy Goat Saloon in Gem Village on Friday; the Kirk James Blues Band does après ski at Purgy’s from 2-5 p.m. Friday; and Black Velvet plays Sweeney’s Restaurant at 5 p.m. Saturday.

This week’s Top Shelf list features my predictions for the rest of the playoffs:

- Baltimore upsets Big Ben and the Steelers, 24-21.

- New England pounds the Jets into oblivion, 31-13.

- The ghosts of Lombardi lead the Pack past Atlanta, 28-17.

- Chicago embarrasses Seattle to the tune of 28-10.

- The Pats eke by the Ravens for the AFC title, 27-24.

- Chicago, much to the chagrin of nearly everyone on earth, edges Green Bay in the NFC championship, 30-27.

- Jay Cutler throws a Super Bowl record six interceptions as New England rolls, 52-10. Then he blames his receivers for bad routes.

War Eagle, hey? E-mail me at



In this week's issue...

March 17, 2022
Critical condition

Lake Powell drops below threshold for the first time despite attempts to avoid it

March 17, 2022
Uphill climb

Purgatory Resort set for expansion but still faces hurdles

March 10, 2022
Mind, body & soul (... and not so much El Rancho)

New health care studio takes integrated approach to healing