Top Shelf

 Uncle Kracker, Gourds and Centro-Matic

by Chris Aaland

Don’t complain that there’s nothing to do in Durango. If you do, then you apparently aren’t reading your Telegraph very closely.

The Sky Ute Casino goes big-time Saturday night with Uncle Kracker. Born Matthew Schafer, Kracker got his big break in 1987 when his brother, Mike, entered a turntable competition that included a then-unknown Kid Rock. A friendship was born, and Kracker ended up as the turntablist for Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker Band, appearing on the breakthrough album “Devil Without a Cause” that fused hard rock, hip-hop and country. He then went solo and has had a string of hit albums and singles, including a cover of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” For Shizzle.

Durango’s favorite band, The Gourds, returns to the Hank at 9:30 p.m. Friday in support of a brand-new album, “Old Mad Joy.” I’ve gotten into fiery debates over their cover of Snoop’s “Gin and Juice” — a version that I truly enjoy but is one of the few requests I flatly refuse to play on my radio show, not because of the language (which obliterates FCC guidelines), but because it’s inferior to original songs by Kevin Russell, Jimmy Smith and Max Johnston. Texas Music Monthly wrote that, “their backwoods appearance and down-and-dirty roots grooves suggest just another redneck party band … the band churns out songs of surprising variety, some hyperliterate, others maddeningly obtuse, and yes, a few that qualify as beer-drinkers and hell-raisers.” This will sell out, so don’t wait until showtime.

The grit and grime of The Gourds couldn’t be contrasted more than by the vintage cool of the Boulder Acoustic Society, which comes to the Hank at 8 p.m. Saturday. Both acts fuse countless genres — many of which are shared influences — into an original sound. Yet BAS comes off much more refined, like a fine bottle of Scotch vs. moonshine, one could argue. The band’s promo touts their material as a blend of Americana, gospel and the blues, but I’ve found it to hover more in Gypsy jazz territory.

Centro-Matic grinds out tightly wound indie-rock at the Abbey tonight (Thurs., Nov. 10). Talk about a resume. These guys are currently opening for the Drive-By Truckers. Lead singer Will Johnson was the touring drummer for Monsters of Folk (Jim James, Conor Oberst, M. Ward, Mike Mogis) and is a longtime collaborator with My Morning Jacket. Polica, who is the lead vocalist of the Minneapolis supergroup Gayngs, will also perform.

There are cover bands and tribute acts, and then there’s an outfit called Classic Albums Live that enlists top musicians to tackle some of the most influential LPs of all-time. They’ll be at the Community Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday paying homage to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.” Relying only on the music with no gimmickry or impersonations, Classic Albums Live has performed such iconic recordings as the Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Led Zeppelin II” in the past. “Rumours” — Fleetwood Mac’s 11th and best-selling album — was ranked as the 25th greatest album of all-time by Rolling Stone magazine. Expect to hear the album in its entirety, followed by performances of additional Fleetwood Mac hits.

The Summit hosts an official album release party for dubstep innovator Roommate at 10 p.m. Friday for his latest album, “Studio Dub Transmissions.” From his work with Babylon System to his solo material, Roommate has earned an international reputation for his skills as a producer and DJ. He’s also emerged at the forefront of the bass music community. Rasta Stevie, Ras Daws and Treazon are also on the bill.

Local newgrass gets top billing at the Summit on Saturday night with Old North State and Waiting on Trial. The Brothers Wray — Dillon and Jantzen — were weaned on the music and outdoor activities of the Appalachian Trail. Their travels took them to Southwest Colorado for one reason — music.

Along with drummer Chayce, they’ve recently released their debut studio album, “Long Road Home,” blending elements of bluegrass, folk, rock and punk. Waiting on Trial, of course, is no stranger to the local scene, playing an aggressive, original bluegrass style that taps into a similar vein as that of the Infamous Stringdusters.

Folk-rocker Charley Orlando, who has 13 albums, 3,000 shows, 200 original songs and 22 years in the biz, does a Summit gig tonight (Thurs., Nov. 10). He’s shared the stage with such diverse legends as Kid Rock, Meat Loaf and String Cheese Incident.

Words that I never dreamed I’d type in a sentence: “indigenous contemporary dance collective.” This phrase is well outside the narrow box of my comfort zone. Dancing Earth, the nation’s premier troupe of the aforementioned variety, performs its newest original work, “Of Bodies of Elements,” at 7 p.m. Friday at the Community Concert Hall. There’s also a master class in Skyhawk Hall (next to the football field) at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Moe’s events this week include live music from Kentucky Deluxe at 9 p.m. Friday, dancing with Benjamin K at 9 p.m. Saturday, and usual weekly affairs like Salsa Night (tonight), Musica del Mundo (Sunday), and Sunday’s Bloody Mary bar.

More good stuff: Tim Guidotti is back at Ska on Thursday night, which is also the brewery’s weekly free chili night for those desiring a capsaicin fix; Black Velvet plays El Rancho from 5-8 p.m. Friday; Mike Testa is back at The Office Spiritorium from 7-11 p.m. Friday; Freeplay brings danceable rock to the Derailed Saloon at 8 p.m. Saturday.

For the sporting sect, Fort Lewis hosts NCAA Division II men’s and women’s soccer playoffs this week. The No. 3-ranked Skyhawk men host league rival Metro State at 2 p.m. today (Thursday). A win and they’ll play either Incarnate Word or Midwestern State at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The FLC women earned a first-round bye and will play the winner of Friday’s Regis vs. Colorado Mesa game at a time to be determined on Sunday (11:30 a.m. if the men win, 2 p.m. if they don’t). Just hold off on those snow dances for now, otherwise the games might move out of town.

This week’s Top Shelf list features some of my favorite Gourds songs:
1. “Ants on the Melon”
2. “Lament”
3. “County Orange”
4. “Pine Island Bayou”
5. “Lower 48”

Get thrown in the mix and tossed out of bars? E-mail me at