Top Shelf

Beer season’s victory lap and Getting the Led Out

by Chris Aaland

Oktoberfests are like marathons, not sprints. I found this out firsthand at the three-hour grand tasting during Telluride Blues & Brews. Under cloudless skies and mid 70-degree temperature at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, throngs of thousands raced from one tasting booth to another for their four-ounce tasters. By the 3 p.m. closing, folks were feeling the combined effects of suds, heat, altitude and dehydration. Beer consumption the rest of the day (and the following day, for that matter) skid to a halt. My own consumption the remainder of the day was limited to water and lemonade. If it weren’t for my good buddy, Vitamin V – Bloody Marys, heavy on vodka and spice – then I wouldn’t have come around on Sunday, either.

For those who take our boozing seriously, the combined effect of one beer-drinking event after another over the course of six weeks is like the Tour de France for chuggers: San Juan Brewfest, Ska Anniversary Party, and Blues & Brews are like Mont Ventoux, Col du Tourmalet and Col du Galibier. The last remaining hurdle, Oktoberfest, is more like Champs-Elysees: a celebratory stroll through the park … or parking lot, in this case.

Flashback to 1980 when Get the Led Out plays the Concert Hall on Fri., Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m.

The 11th annual Oktoberfest Durango – the final big local beer binge of the season – takes place Saturday (noon - 5:30 p.m.) and Sunday (noon - 4:30 p.m.) in the Transit Center parking lot (on the east side of Camino Del Rio between 8th and 9th streets). Eleven suds-slingers will be on hand, including the five Durango breweries, plus Bottom Shelf (Bayfield), Great Divide (Denver), New Belgium (Fort Collins), Odell (Fort Collins), Wolfe (Pagosa Springs) and Santa Fe (Santa Fe). Loads of local and regional bands will perform, including the Alpiners, Big’ns, Bacon, Chicken Dance and Atomga (all on Saturday) and JRPT, Elder Grown and Mountain Standard Time (Sunday). Plus, there’s food from Sunnyside Meats, Fired Up Pizza and Terry’s Hot Dogs. The family friendly event includes the Kinderplatz Kids Area featuring face painting, bubble making, Strider bike course, pumpkin explosion, apple bobbing and a giant pumpkin patch. Adult fun & games include a dunk tank, kissing booth, giant Klackers game, skateboard exposition, German costume contest, brat eating contest and a stein relay race.

Rumor has it I’ll be doling out kisses to help raise money for the cause – in this case, the Durango Business Improvement District – from noon ‘til 12:30 p.m. Saturday. I promise to use mouth wash before the event.

In other beer-drinking news, New Belgium has released four seasonals this fall: Pumpkick Spiced Seasonal Ale, Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale, Hop the Pond Double IPA and Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout. I’ll give New Belgium credit for pushing the envelope. The only one of these four I’ve tried is a pint of Le Terroir, which was one of the most difficult beers I’ve ever finished. It was the sourest taste I’ve ever encountered, and that’s coming from someone who enjoys chomping on fresh lemon and lime wedges.

I never got to see Led Zeppelin. I’ve seen Robert Plant twice – at Red Rocks in his late ’80s heyday and at Telluride Bluegrass a few years ago – and John Paul Jones a few times as a guest artist at RockyGrass and T-Ride. But the closest I ever got to a Zeppelin show were pot- and beer-fueled Friday night sprees at laser shows at the Gates Planetarium in Denver as a teen-ager. As tribute bands go, Get the Led Out: the American Led Zeppelin has built quite the reputation. This group is not an impersonator act, but rather a group of folks who were fans first, striving to do justice to arguably the greatest band in rock history. The six musicians (lead singer, two guitarists, bassist, drummer and keyboardist) are professionals who are passionate about the Zep. They’ll play the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Friday with the dance floor open.

Three local bands will appear at the Bikes and Bands Bash at the Community Concert Hall Pavilion between 11:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday: Robbie Overfield, the Moetones and Papa Otis & the 88’s. Proceeds benefit a number of worthy local causes, including Durango Devo, Trails 2000, Durango Daybreak Rotary and the FLC cycling team.

Indie rocker Luke Sweeney, who has fronted some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most talked about and locally loved bands including Vows, plays tonight’s (Thurs., Sept. 25) Ska-B-Q. Sweeney is touring in support of his first full-length studio album, “Adventure: Us,” scheduled for an Oct. 14 release. The record is a matchbox collection of electric psych-soul gems.

Moe’s Madness this week includes the live sounds of Splatapus from 8 ‘til close Friday and dancing to DJs Peter Robot and Spark Madden from 8 ‘til close Saturday.

Elsewhere: SkyPilot brings the jam to El Rancho Tavern at 9:30ish Saturday; and the Pete Giuliani Band plays The Lake House at Vallecito at 7 p.m. Saturday, while Giuliani goes solo and acoustic at Mesa Verde’s Farview Lodge at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Want to boogie like a brewmaster? This week’s Top Shelf list should help. BREW’s suds savant Erik Maxson sheds some light with his Top 10 albums of all-time. “I had to add my own limits of sorts, otherwise this would have taken years to whittle down,” Erik beefed. Yet he rose to the challenge. “As it is, there are 11 and I just can’t feel good about cutting any one of those.” Maxson’s limits: These are the Top 10 (check that … 11) albums he owns: no compilations, no “Best Of,” no live recordings, no repackaged BS. Here ‘tis, in alphabetical order – and if you disagree, feel free to argue with him at the BREW booth at Oktoberfest in Durango. But be forewarned: engage Erik and his wife, Lainie, in a White Stripes dissection at your own risk.

1. The Beatles, self-titled (aka “The White Album”), 1968.
2. Edie Brickell, “Picture Perfect Morning,” 1994.
3. The Clash, “London Calling,” 1979.
4. Brian Eno & David Byrne, “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” 1981.
5. Jane’s Addiction, “Ritual de lo Habitual,” 1990.
6. Meat Puppets, “Too High to Die,” 1994.
7. Pixies, “Surfer Rosa,” 1988.
8. Talking Heads, “Remain in Light,” 1980.
9. The Velvet Underground, “Loaded,” 1970.
10. Weezer, self-titled (aka “The Blue Album), 1994.
11. The White Stripes, “De Stijl,” 2000.

Crowds of people sitting on the grass? Email me at

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