Top Shelf

Neo-folkies, electric-dub and retro-tonk

by Chris Aaland

This week’s entertainment calendar is so thick you’ll need a spatula to spread it: from retro honky-tonk to dubstep to Swedish disco to whatever genre you call two sax players and a drummer, there’s something for everyone … especially those of you interested in neo-folkies who helped create a new genre some 25 years ago.

The legendary Suzanne Vega returns to the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Oct. 23). Her songs “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner” in the late ‘80s ushered in a new female, acoustic, folk-pop, neo-folk, singer-songwriter movement that would later include Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin, Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge and Sarah McLachlan. First elevated to star status in 1987 with her breakout album, “Solitude Standing,” Vega is touring in support of her latest record, the quietly stunning “Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles.” Local folk duo The Lindells opens.
Durango Massive and the Animas City Theatre welcome Minnesota “Mind Machine” 2014 fall tour at 9:30 p.m. tonight. Minnesota (born Christian Bauhofer in Minneapolis) is one of the most innovative and proficient electronic producers to come out of the West Coast bass music movement. His sound breaks away from the various subgenres of EDM but holds onto origins of dubstep and hip-hop, creating a truly authentic experience for his audience. Jackal and G Jones are also on the bill.

Suzanne Vega returns to the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 tonight, Thurs., Oct. 23.

Moon Hooch brings its truly unique act to the ACT at 9:30 Saturday. Moon Hooch captured the imaginations of thousands through infamous stints busking on subway platforms and elsewhere in New York City: two sax players and a drummer whipping up furious, impromptu raves. This happened with such regularity at the Bedford Ave Station in Brooklyn that the band was banned from playing there by the NYPD. The trio’s subsequent tours with They Might Be Giants, Lotus and Galactic have only broadened its appeal.

Crash Music in the Historic Aztec Theatre hosts one of the nation’s top up-and-coming rockabilly and retro honky-tonk acts, the Sweetback Sisters, at 7:30 p.m. Friday. With several releases on the Signature Sounds label, Emily Miller and Zara Bode may not be blood relations, but their precise, family-style harmonies recall the best of country music from the Everly Brothers to the Judds as well as the spirited rockabilly energy of Wanda Jackson … one of the band’s role models.

Abba Mania, from London’s West End, is set to take the audience back in time to when Swedish disco and pop ruled the charts in the ’70s.  The Abba tribute act plays the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m.  Tuesday, with approximately 30 local vocalists from the Durango Children’s Chorale and Durango Youth Chorus helping them with harmonies.
Music in the Mountains presents “A Bite of Jazz,” a dinner-and-concert friend-raiser tonight at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. The $25 ticket includes dinner, wine and beer courtesy of the Wine Merchant, plus live music from the Jeff Solon Trio. Dinner is at 6:15, with music to follow at 7:30.

Trivia is no trivial matter amongst Durango’s drinking class. From Super Ted’s Super Trivia at Ska to the Powerhouse Science Center to the Irish Embassy Pub, teams of boozed-up nerds gather on a near-nightly basis to compete for free suds. Enter the latest into the fray: BREW Pub & Kitchen’s “Geeks Who Drink,” which happens at 8:30 p.m. each Wednesday. The game features cheeky questions and audio and video rounds. Winning teams get street cred, bar cash and other sweet prizes, while bonus questions for free pints are sprinkled throughout the quiz. Celebrate your winnings or drown your sorrows with BREW’s latest starlet, Nicole: a sassy amber ale with a bit of bite, just tapped this week.

Moe’s mishmash of entertainment is highlighted by Friday’s pre-Halloween costume party, which features JBones, Aetheric and Mountain Menace. Codestar and Wake Up Laughing play Saturday from 8 ‘til close, while Sunday Funday features Sonar and a $50 bar tab giveaway.
Elsewhere: Foxfeather, a Front Range-based folk quartet that just released its debut EP, plays El Rancho Tavern on Friday night; and the Black Velvet duo of Nina Sasaki & Larry Carver play the Diamond Belle Saloon at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

This week’s Top Shelf list is provided by longtime bluegrass DJ Hugh Felt, host of KSUT’s “The Grass is Bluer” for the past 20 years. Tune in to KSUT from 7-9 p.m. tonight to hear Hugh’s 20th anniversary show.  He’ll spin favorites from each of the past 20 years. No doubt, some of his Top 10 bluegrass albums of all-time will make the on-air cut. Hugh ranks these in no particular order, other than the album that hooked him on that high and lonesome sound, which charts at No. 1:

1. Hot Rize, self-titled, 1979. This is at the top of the list because they were one of the most fundamental inspirations I had for bluegrass music.

2. Blue Highway, “Sounds of Home,” 2011. They’re such amazing singers, musicians and songwriters with wonderful harmonies.

3. The Gibson Brothers, “Iron & Diamonds,” 2008. I’ve always been drawn to brother-driven bluegrass and they’re just so good.

4. Claire Lynch, “Crowd Favorites,” 2007. I’ve just liked her from the get-go. This album has a lot of her greatest songs and is a wonderful listening experience.

5. Laurie Lewis & her Bluegrass Pals, self-titled, 1999. I’ve been a  big fan of Laurie’s for a long time. There’s a long history of women’s bluegrass musicians in the Bay Area.

6. Del McCoury, “High, Lonesome & Blue,” 2004. It covers the range of bluegrass music and Del is such an icon!

7. Tony Rice, “Plays and Sings Bluegrass,” 1993. This one was recorded back when Tony was still able to sing well. Terrific stuff. He’s a modern-day icon.

8. Alison Brown, “Fair Weather,” 2000. One of the great banjo players of our time.

9. Jay Ungar & Molly Mason with Swingology, “Relax Your Mind,” 2003. I love their folk-based sound. They sing wonderful harmonies and they’ve incorporated some nice jazz into their music.

10. The Dreadful Snakes, “Snakes Alive!” 1995. It’s just superstars, to the delight of everybody who listens. This supergroup included Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, Roland White, Pat Enright, Blaine Sprouse and Mark Hembree: three of whom were members of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys.
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