Top Shelf

Sir Mix-A-Lot, Music from the Big House & suck it, iTunes

by Chris Aaland

It’s no lie: ’90s rap artist Sir Mix-a-Lot comes to the ACT tonight, Thurs., April 17.

Tip back a bourbon in honor of Jesse Winchester, a songwriter, folkie and activist who died on Friday at age 69 after succumbing to cancer. To protest the Vietnam War in 1967, he left his beloved American South and moved to Canada. Born in Bossier City, La., he was raised in Memphis and took on all of the wonderful sounds of that city: blues, R&B, rock & roll and country. During his career, he penned such timeless songs as “Biloxi,” “A Showman’s Life” and “Defying Gravity” – tunes that would become hits for Jimmy Buffett, Emmylou Harris, the New Grass Revival, the Everly Brothers and Elvis Costello, among others. Four Corners music fans got the chance to hear Winchester in person as recently as the early 2000s, when he appeared at the Silverton Jubilee with Jerry Douglas. Winchester’s songs, particularly those penned in exile, were tender, melodic, romantic paeans to his beloved American South. Back in 1981, Rolling Stone magazine called him “the voice of a generation” … high praise considering he launched his career at the same time as contemporaries like Buffett, James Taylor, John Hiatt, J.J. Cale and Cat Stevens.

I like big butts, I cannot lie. Sir Mix-A-Lot, who parlayed a gonzo tribute to women with junk in their trunks, became a DIY success story by founding his own record label, handling his own promotion, producing his own tracks and pulling himself up by his bootstraps. Even before “Baby Got Back,” Mix-A-Lot was a platinum-selling artist. Early hits include “Posse on Broadway;” and a collaboration with Metal Church on Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man;” and a pairing with Mudhoney on “Freak Momma.” Sir Mix-A-Lot does an 18+ show at the Animas City Theatre at 9 p.m. tonight.

Rocky Mountain jamgrass comes to the ACT in the form of Whitewater Ramble at 10 p.m. Saturday. WWR uses a simple recipe to craft its sound: start with bluegrass instrumentation, add drums and finish with a genre-bending approach that grasses up everything from disco house grooves to roots to Americana. The Bear Hand Killers are also on the bill.

Country singer-songwriter Tyller Gummersall plays a free concert during the Strater Hotel’s annual open house from 5-7 p.m. tonight in the Henry Strater Theatre. Gummersall, whose music falls somewhere between vintage country and Americana fare, recently completed his third full-length album, “Beer and a Rose,” which features his Nashville dream band with musicians who have worked with Ryan Adams and John Prine. A protégée of two-time national flat-picking champ Gary Cook – best known locally for his work with the Bar-D Wranglers – Gummersall is a double threat on guitar and vocals as well as a songwriter whose sophisticated work belies his years. He’ll take donations for KSUT Public Radio at the event. The Strater’s open house also features light hors d’oeuvres and tours of the hotel.

The San Juan Symphony screens “Music from the Big House,” a documentary by their April vocal soloist Rita Chiarelli, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Durango Arts Center. The movie, which includes a Q&A with Chiarelli following the screening, is free. Known as Canada’s Queen of the Blues, Chiarelli took a pilgrimage to the maximum security Angola Prison, which was once the bloodiest correctional facility in America. Her trip turned into a historical jailhouse jam with inmates serving life sentences. Chiarelli’s vivacious personality and shared bond of music drew striking revelations from the inmates. On Sat., April 26, Chiarelli will perform with the San Juan Symphony in its final performance of the season, “Symphony in Blue.” More on that next week.

Additionally, the SJS’s Youth Orchestras will conclude their 2013-14 season at 7 p.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall. The night includes performances by the junior orchestra (elementary school), youth philharmonic (middle school) and high school and college student program.

Meet Matt Albert, conservatory director for Music in the Mountains, at 9 a.m. Saturday at the MITM Festival Office, at 1063 Main Ave. Albert will meet with teachers, parents and community members to discuss conservatory plans for 2014 and beyond. Coffee and donuts will be provided.

Moe’s hosts a Pre-420 Party with music and dancing to Red Eyed Djinn and Diabolical Sound Platoon from 7 ‘til close Saturday with free shots for the ladies and 420 giveaways.

Attention music lovers! Southwest Sound and Random Records participate in the seventh annual Record Store Day this Saturday. In 2007, a group of independent record store owners created a vinyl-lover’s holiday on the third Saturday in April. Record Store Day is akin to Christmas for music lovers. Only indie stores have access to limited copies of exclusive releases, new and rare material, reissues and products never before released on vinyl. “I love this day!” exclaims Stacy Archuleta of Southwest Sound. “I love the heart and enthusiasm my fellow music folks bring with them to celebrate with us. iTunes can suck it for one day a year.”

In honor of Record Store Day, Stacy has been kind enough to share with us the 10 albums that have made her the well-adjusted woman we know and love. This week’s Top Shelf list features the albums that drove Stacy into the indie record biz:

1. “Purple Rain,” Prince, 1984. Saw the movie when I was 11 and by the time “Beautiful Ones” was over, I was hooked!

2. “Grace,” Jeff Buckley, 1994. Always have to listen to this album in whole. Love!

3. “Kettle Whistle,” Jane’s Addiction, 1997. Great live album and Perry heckling the guy in Birkenstocks always makes me happy.

4. “Bricks Are Heavy,” L7, 1992. I still want to be Donita Sparks.

5. “Thriller,” Michael Jackson, 1982. When I’m 80, I will still think I’m a P.Y.T.

6. “Frenching the Bully,” Gits, 1992. Wonderful band, tragedy cut them far too short.

7. “Blue and Lonesome,” George Jones, 1964. Nobody knows heartbreak like the Possum.

8. “Dummy,” Portishead, 1994. Haunting, lovely, timeless.

9. “Crazy for You,” Best Coast, 2010. Every song on this album is wonderful to me!

10. “Aladdin Sane,” David Bowie, 1973. “Lady Grinning Soul” alone makes it worth it, but the whole set is phenomenal!

My anaconda don’t want none? Email me at chrisa@gobrain storm.net.

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