Top Shelf

Return to Reservoir Hill and Lynch’s Top 10

by Chris Aaland

Labor Day means two things to me each year in my new-and-improved, post-college-athletic life: the opening of dusky grouse hunting (we used to call them blue grouse) and the Four Corners Folk Festival … the next-to-last hurrah for major summer musical shin-digs in Southwest Colorado.

The Oh Hellos, made up of brother-sister duo Maggie and Tyler Heath, strike an un-folkish pose. The eclectic folk/rock band from outside Austin, Texas, plays this weekend’s Four Corners Folk Fest.

Grouse hunting is simple: Walk for miles at high altitude with hopes of seeing birds that blend in with everything. If they flush, shoot them. Usually you never see them. But hunt enough and you’ll see aspens changing colors, frost forming on stream banks and the winter’s first snow falling. A good bird dog improves your chances, but this year I’ll have to go it alone, without my beloved German shorthair Luna, who died last winter. Her final point came up the Hermosa Creek drainage last September; with any luck, I’ll scatter her ashes in that spot Monday.

Among the more valuable lessons I’ve learned in 25 years of grouse hunting are: 1) Don’t set your shotgun down to gorge in raspberry patches … unless they’re really big, full, ripe raspberry patches. I was on all fours grazing like a bear a few years back on the west side of the La Platas when a big grouse launched out of the same patch … all I could do was throw raspberries at him; and 2) Invite your brother-in-law, especially if he’s a chef. Mine has yet to accompany me, but he forages for mushrooms in the same areas I hunt. Morels and grouse would make a meal fit for a king … especially with wild raspberry preserves to accompany the bird.

Festivating is even easier. Drive to Pagosa Springs, set up camp on Reservoir Hill today (Thurs., Aug. 28) or tomorrow for the 19th annual Four Corners Folk Festival, pop open a cold beer (or two), find Dan Peha’s camp for a margarita (or two), wander into the festival grounds and enjoy top national folk and bluegrass acts like Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott, Elephant Revival and Sarah Jarosz, soak the next morning in the hot springs, cook a mid-morning brunch of huevos rancheros smothered in last week’s green chile, chase it with a Bloody Mary (or two) and return to the festival grounds. Repeat as necessary.

As David Smith once said, “The festival world is so much better than the real world.”

Sure, you’ve likely seen artists like Sam, Tim and Darrell dozens of times already. But FolkWest truly excels at booking young, up-and-coming acts that warrant your rapt attention. In particular, I’m looking forward to seeing The Oh Hellos, Shook Twins and Steep Ravine. The post-Mumford & Sons/Punch Brothers world is brimming with indie-folk and new acoustic talent, much of which seems to live on Reservoir Hill.

The Mancos Valley Distillery presents Sol’ Emporium at 8 p.m. Friday. According to their presser, Sol’ Emporium “is a circumstantial indie band from the darkest corners of small-town America used by cosmic forces to convey riddles upon mankind.” Ian’s Back Alley Rum will most definitely be the drink of choice, so you can stagger around like a pirate if you’d like.

A few local bands work hard this weekend to entertain you and thousands of leather-clad bikers: Durango’s jazziest and jammiest quartet, SkyPilot, plays the Balcony from 5:30-9:30 tonight; the full Black Velvet band with special guest Ben Gibson pulls out all the classic rock stops at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Derailed Pour House; the Ben Gibson Band rocks the Balcony at 6 p.m. Saturday; and the Pete Giuliani Band entertains at Durango Harley Davidson from noon-4 Sunday.

You can be cool like Jon Lynch, longtime host of “Audience of One”  from 1-3 Monday afternoons on KDUR, by attending KDUR’s DJ application meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in 130 Noble Hall.

I’ve been prodding Lynch for months to provide his Top 10 albums. He’s finally arrived at a rather stunning list befitting a college radio vinyl nerd. “Asking me to list my Top 10 albums is ludicrous,” he whined. “I’ve little clue where to begin and subsequently put off compiling this list because it made my brain hurt. Without loitering at my local record stores, paying attention to the recommendations from well-versed clerks and buying albums blindly, this list wouldn’t exist as it does.” Lynch dedicates it to the first record store that mattered to him, The Antiquarium, and its proprietor, Dave Sink. “May you both rest in peace.”

1. Descendents, “Somery,” 1991. A compilation, sure … but a  comprehensive one. I first owned “Two Things At Once” (also a comp … combining the band’s 1982 debut album “Milo Goes to College” with a bevy of EPs, singles and bonus tracks), but it was “Somery” that tied the room together.

2. Camper Van Beethoven, “Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart,” 1988.  An album of ska, folk, psych and Americana made by acid guzzling skate punks. This is essential. Nordstrom knows.

3. Fugazi, “Repeater + 3 Songs,” 1990. I had no idea at the time, but Dischord Records, like SST before/alongside them, would become paramount to my adolescence.

4. Sonic Youth, “Goo,” 1990. Follow-up to “Daydream Nation.” Major label debut. The musical landscape shifts were tectonic. Not a single bad track. Hopelessly cool cover art.

5. The Dead Milkmen, “Big Lizard in My Backyard,” 1985. I still listen to this album with supreme, silly reverence. It meant so much to me. I wore this cassette out and bought it again.

6. The Pixies, “Surfer Rosa,” 1988. Picking a singular album from this  band’s ’87-91 catalogue is as interchangeable as this list.  Thirteen-year-old me would obviously choose the one with bare breasts.  Sue him.

7. Pavement, “Brighten the Corners,” 1997. This was the soundtrack to my freshman year of college and, like any of the artists above, could easily be swapped with any from their catalogue.

8. Mudhoney, “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge,” 1991. The first time I saw Mudhoney was on the tour for this record. Their best? Maybe not, but this was my introduction.

9. Morphine, “Cure for Pain,” 1993. So let me get this straight: The band is comprised of saxophone, bass and drums? Huh. OK.

10. Built to Spill, “Perfect from Now On, 1997. Another record released during my freshman year of college that shaped my taste … many thanks to KJHK.

You better find a chicken little of your own?  Email me at

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows