Top Shelf

Big-time hip hop andsmall-town fund raising

by Chris Aaland

Big-time hip-hop comes to the Animas City Theatre on Tuesday in the form of The Grouch and Eligh. Oakland’s Grouch and L.A.’s Eligh formed the duo G&E at the pinnacle of the independent hip-hop movement. Fast forward many years and G&E have cemented themselves as salient artists who maintain legions of loyal fans around the globe while consistently releasing music that stays true to their roots. Last February, G&E released their latest collaboration, a triple-disc project titled “The Tortoise and the Crow.” It includes a collaborative disc called “333;” Grouch’s solo disc “Lighthouses;” and Eligh’s “Nomads.” The triple disc was the first of its kind in the hip-hop world and was met with critical acclaim and commercial success. It debuted on the Billboard Heatseekers chart at No. 1 and on the Billboard Rap chart at No. 12.

Time is nigh for holiday parties that double as fundraisers and one of the longest-running such affairs happens Tuesday night at Seasons Rotisserie & Grill, as the restaurant celebrates its 20th anniversary. 

This year’s beneficiary is the Durango Food Bank and attendees are asked for a minimum donation of $25 plus nonperishable food items. Attendees can sample menu items from Seasons’ grill, paired with fine wines. No reservation necessary.

KSUT Public Radio gives back to its listeners during its second annual 12 Hours of Giving fundraiser on Wednesday. At the top of each hour from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., listeners who make a year-end pledge to KSUT will be entered into drawings for Durango & Silverton winter train tickets, ski passes, concert-and-dinner pairings, Music Blend CD bundles, gift certificates to local merchants and much more – nearly two dozen prizes in all. Donors who previously made pledges earlier in the year are eligible to call in to 563-0255 to get their names entered into the drawings. Online pledges can be made any time at

Moe’s slate is highlighted by a First Saturday live music event with DJs CK, Baby Bell and Myke Lyte at 8 p.m. Saturday. Other events include a hip-hop show with Coolzy and Belly Belt at 8 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Dec. 4) and live music from Liver Down the River at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Elsewhere: The Pete Giuliani Band plays El Rancho Tavern from 7-11 p.m. Friday; the Black Velvet duo holds court at the Diamond Belle Saloon at 5:30 p.m. Saturday; Carute Roma holds its second annual “Hannah Going Away Party” from 8-10 p.m. Saturday at BREW Pub & Kitchen as Hannah Burnett is threatening to leave the band again and move east; and the San Juan Symphony’s Youth Orchestra hosts its winter concert at 7 p.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall.

And in drinking news, BREW Pub & Kitchen has tapped its latest offering: Oscar the Stout. It’s a smooth and creamy foreign stout served on Nitro. Up on 2nd Ave., Steamworks is offering its seasonal Spruce Goose, a strong ale brewed with locally harvested spruce tips.

I tapped an old friend for this week’s Top Shelf list. Former KDUR DJ and Durango Meltdown board member David Smith – now plying his craft in the Great White North on North Dakota Prairie Public Radio – provides his Top 10 bluegrass albums of 2014, just in time for your holiday shopping!

1) Bradford Lee Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys, “Somewhere Far Away.” Lyrics seemingly full of my own personal feelings and reflections on moving from Colorado, no longer being in the “scene,” loss of comfortable surroundings, and taking a chance on the unknown. This one hits home.

2) The Seldom Scene, “Long Time… .” My Mid-Atlantic hometown heroes return and bring along a few good friends. This album brings together 40 years of bluegrass history with the class and good times that only The Seldom Scene convey.

3) Chatham County Line, “Tightrope.” An album that walks a line between the ballads of Dave Wilson and the power quartet of the band. Like all their releases, there are three or four songs that make you wonder, “How did they record something that cool?”

4) The Earls of Leicester, self-titled. A no-brainer. This is what happens when you bring together the best acoustic artists in the modern-day to pay tribute to the best acoustic artists of a bygone era. Shawn Camp as Lester Flatt, Charlie Cushman as Earl Scruggs. Say no more.

5) Hot Rize, “When I’m Free.” The epic mainstay of Colorado bluegrass, of original songwriting in bluegrass, of showmanship and of harmony, arrangements, instrumentation … Yeah, they’re really good and this is their first studio release in over 20 years.

6) Town Mountain, “Live at the ISIS.” The band does what they do best: get rowdy in front of a crowd and let ’er loose. The combination of Britt’s fiddle, Langlais’ banjo, Barker’s mando and Greer’s voice is like nothing else in bluegrass today. Town Mountain pools flavors of bluegrass, folk, rock and country onto the Americana bar!

7) Old Crow Medicine Show, “Remedy.” Yes, the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry sing about cocaine, meth, jailhouse conjugal meetings and moonshine. But that doesn’t mean they always play old time string band music.

8) Roland White, “Straight-Ahead Bluegrass.” The title says it all. If you’re looking for a traditional bluegrass fix in this world of progressive-new-acoustic-jamgrass, then look no further than Roland White’s collection of classics.

9) Richard Bennett, “In the Wind Somewhere.” Sometimes I feel like I need to be apologetic for being a Richard Bennett fan, as if I should ignore his work and only listen to Tony Rice. Well, I don’t apologize! Bennett is an amazing singer and guitar picker and his song selections are stellar. Besides, this one has an epic 10-minute-plus duet with Tony Rice on “Wayfaring Stranger.”

10) Various artists, “The Putaxent Banjo Project.” I love keeping up with the musical happening of my Mid-Atlantic roots and this release makes it easy by bringing all the best together. I’d also like to give a shout out to Putaxent Records, which is constantly putting out wonderful, under-the-radar bluegrass music.

Other great releases of 2014 include Larry Sparks, Junior Sisk, Tim Stafford, Blue Highway, Lonesome River Band, Joe Mullins, Michael Cleveland, Balsam Range and Special Consensus. 2014 was a great year for bluegrass!

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