Top Shelf

First day jitters, the other Jewell and Carverfest

by Chris Aaland

I can’t remember my first day of kindergarten. I have a few memories of attending kindergarten and first grade in Houston, but most have long since faded to memory. But dropping Otto off at kindergarten Monday morning is one I’ll cherish forever. Decked out in Fort Lewis soccer and basketball gear, my 5-year-old was one of the first kids on the playground. Otto quietly told us, “I’m scared,” as we walked up the stairs to his school. But he didn’t hesitate (which is rare for him) and seemed rather pensive about the whole ordeal. I worry about my little guy. He’s changed a lot since his baby brother died last November. And change isn’t something he welcomes … nor do his parents.

But damn, do they have nice playgrounds today? When I grew up in Rifle, we had a swing set, a merry-go-round, a big metal slide and a barrel chained to four posts that the ranch kids could practice rodeo on. It’s doubtful that would pass today’s safety standards.

So go forth, young ones. Enjoy that first week of school before the memories fade.

Speaking of memories, KOTO-FM hosts a brand-new festival this weekend in Telluride’s Town Park that’s full of blasts from the past. “The Ride” is a rock-heavy lineup, but still somewhat eclectic with favorites who have previously appeared at Blues & Brews and Bluegrass. The headliners are Big Head Todd & the Monsters and Ben Harper, but the diverse bill also includes Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, J.J. Grey & Mofro, the North Mississippi Allstars, James McMurtry, the Wood Brothers, David Lindley and others. Visit for the full scoop.

Eilen Jewell returns to the Dolores River Brewery at 8 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Aug. 23). Jewell began her musical career busking on the streets of Santa Fe while attending college. Since moving to the fertile folk scene of Massachusetts, she’s released a string of highly-acclaimed albums on the Signature Sounds label – an indie associated with the likes of Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer, Chris Smither, Mary Gauthier, Fred Eaglesmith, Patty Larkin and Mark Erelli. Jewel’s folk has always been well-seasoned with hard twang, and her Western roots serve her well. “Letters from Sinners & Strangers” is a CD that would make Neko Case proud. Two years ago, Jewell released “Butcher Holler,” an album of Loretta Lynn covers. Jewell played Durango at least once that I know of – on a Roots on the Rails tour opening for Fred Eaglesmith about five years ago (although during her college years in Santa Fe, she very well could have wound up in town).

Wanna be a DJ? Sure you do. I had a caller on my show this week who was heading up to Crested Butte for stage two of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and had an eclectic mix of road trip requests: Willie, Waylon, Cash, Leftover Salmon, Sleepy LaBeef. His eclectic tastes make him ripe to man the board and turntables. Perhaps you’re equally qualified. Come to KDUR’s DJ application meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Room 125 Noble Hall at Fort Lewis and sign up for a show.

The highlight of Moe’s social calendar this week is surely the 10-year anniversary party of this very rag. Meet your favorite Telegraph scribes and boogie to the countrified sounds of Farmington Hill from 6-9 p.m. Saturday. There are also other events, too, on tap at Moe’s, including tonight’s Salsa Night, Friday’s FAC with Caitlin Cannon & the Artillery, a late-night foam party Saturday featuring DJ Mateo and Sunday’s Jazz Church.

With the arrival of the school year, we know that soon leaves will change, frost will appear, chilies will roast and your favorite local bands will make their final appearance of the year at the Balcony. The Lawn Chair Kings are one such act. They do their final Balcony date of the summer from 5-9 p.m. Friday. Just as Neil Young implored the throngs at Woodstock to join him in his famous “No Rain” chant, expect Dan Leek to do the same Friday. Kings shows at the Balcony notoriously turn into wet T-shirt contests as Mother Nature unleashes her fury.

‘Tis a big week for Larry Carver. The Derailed Saloon hosts CarverFest 2012 at 7 p.m. tonight, which is a combination birthday celebration for the event’s namesake and a pro-jam featuring many of Durango’s top musicians, including his bandmates in Black Velvet, Kirk James, Pete Neds, Ben Gibson (of Tumblin’ Dice), Randy Crumbaugh (of the Jelly Belly Boogie Band), Big Momma Donna, Andrea Zeiner (of Andrea’s Fault) and others. They’ll keep playing as long as musicians are willing, usually ‘til midnight. Carver’s full Black Velvet band returns to the Derailed at 8 p.m. Saturday to play a CD release party.
The Summit’s slate this week features a slew of locals, including The Formless at 10 p.m. tonight, Waiting on Trial at 10 p.m. Friday and DJs Pat Fee & Brian Ess at 10 p.m. Saturday.

Also of note: Thom Rader and friends bring blues-rock to Ska for tonight’s Ska-B-Q; Pete Giuliani does a solo acoustic set from 5-8 p.m. Friday at El Rancho Tavern and is joined by Brad Tesmer from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Mountain Madness.

You may have already noticed that Steamworks has remodeled its north courtyard between the brewpub and the West Building. Instead of being tented, this area now features a permanent covering, wood panels and a new bar designed with the same contemporary, industrial feel of the inside area. “We wanted to offer restaurant patrons waiting for a table somewhere other than the sidewalk to wait, and give them an opportunity to have a beer,” said Steamworks co-founder Kris Oyler. “Also, we wanted to give our regular local bar patrons a place they could drop in and relax during the busy summer season, have a beer and maybe an appetizer or pizza.” The courtyard features its own trimmed-down menu.

This week’s Top Shelf list fondly recalls a half-dozen live music highlights from this summer:
1. John Fogerty at Telluride Bluegrass.
2. Ray Wylie Hubbard’s intense country-blues at the Abbey.
3. Taj Mahal ripping up the Concert Hall.
4. Nearly every act at RockyGrass.
5. Halden Wofford at the Daddyfest.
6. Rosie Ledet bringing zydeco to the DAC.

Remember the days of the old schoolyard? Email me at


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January 26, 2024
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January 11, 2024
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New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows