Durango's Dylan
Local singer/songwriter Thom Chacon to release new album

Durango's Dylan

Singer/songrwiter Thoma Chacon, who moved to Durango from L.A. 10 years ago, is set to soon re- lease his fourth album, "Big as the Moon." He recently shot a video to accompany "Easy Heart," a track from the album, on the Animas River. When not slinging his guitar, Chacon works as a flyfishing guide./Photo by John Peden

Stew Mosberg - 12/02/2016

In 2014, The Huffington Post/UK referred to Durango singer/song- writer Thom Chacon as “an Americana original; one of the most important songwriters of our time.” High praise indeed, and the statement reflects the opinion of a growing number of fans, both locally and abroad.

Yet another indication of his standing among elite musicians was his participation in 2015’s “Buy This Fracking Album” put out by Movement Music Records. Chacon’s track, “Before the Drilling Rigs Got Here,” shares billing on the album with the work of 20 artists, including such familiar names as Bonnie Raitt, Michael Franti and Pete Seeger.

Chacon’s poignant lyrics often lament the down-trodden working class and share common ground with the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine. His soulful, raspy voice combined with acoustic guitar and harmonica are reminiscent of Bob Dylan, a huge inspiration for him. In fact, Chacon’s infant son Dylan is named after the Noble Prize winner.

His earliest influences came from his family. The only boy in a family of five girls, Chacon says his sisters taught him to be sensitive and “how to pay attention to the details.”

On the other end of the spectrum, his second cousin Bobby Chacon (1951- 2016), was a two-time boxing world champion. The pugilist’s iconic life gave title to Thom’s first album, “Feather- weight Fighter,” which was recorded with Bob Dylan’s bassist Tony Garnier and drummer George Receli. The libretto on that album speaks of hope and healing; courage and glory. “(My cousin) taught me no matter how hard it gets, you’ve got to get up off the mat and keeping fighting,” remarked the singer.

Chacon spent his formative years in California but after chasing the dream in Los Angeles, he decided on a less frenzied lifestyle and moved to Durango 10 years ago. He met his wife, Bess, here, and has been a fly fishing guide for Duranglers almost since the day he set foot on the shores of the Animas River. He estimated that he logs about 70 guided trips per year. His love of the local waterway inspired “Easy Heart,” one of the tracks on his soon-to-be released fourth album, “Big as the Moon,” produced by his record label Pie Studios, of Glen Cove, N.Y.

To help promote the latest album and “Easy Heart,” Chacon recently enlisted the talent of New Mexico filmmaker Deborah Voorhees to shoot a video on the Animas River. Voorhees, an accomplished actress, teacher, filmmaker and writer, is also the creator of “Billy Shakespeare,” a 2014 comedy. (Go to voorheesfilms.com for a listing of her other credits and cinematic achievements.)

Voorhees took to the project after being introduced to Chacon though a mutual friend and hearing the singer’s rendition of “Easy Heart.”

“The song’s narrative reflects the essence of a quiet and gentle man; about being calm in the world,” she explains. “It’s a celebration of water, its importance in our lives, how we need it to survive.”

On a cool Sunday morning this fall after several days of rain, with the river finally clear and placid, Chacon slid two boats into the Animas. Voorhees filmed him and his faithful dog Delilah on the river with Thom’s music and lyrics as background. He even got to cast a line into the riffles and, being the accomplished guide that he is, hooked two trophy trout. Locals viewing the video will recognize much of the scenery on and off the water including Bakers Bridge, Smelter Rapid, the Strater Hotel and in homage to his fighting cousin, the Jack Dempsey mural outside the El Rancho Tavern. Voorhees acknowledged that she likes being able to film something different and this was the first time she caught a fly-fish-ing sequence on film. As it turns out, filming is the least time-consuming aspect of the video-making process. Weeks, and sometimes months, go into production, editing and synching, before the final product is completed.

As the result of all the great reviews received during Chacon’s European tour, the new album and video will have its premier release through an Italian distributor, Appaloosa Records. Chacon is optimistic that it will be introduced in the United States in early 2017.

The other nine tracks on “Big as the Moon” cover a range of emotions, and Chacon says the collection “sketches the lower middle class life of Americans and immigrants in the United States, past and present.”

In fact, astute fans will recognize the narrative of “I am an Immigrant,” which picks up the storyline of “Juarez,” a ballad of despair on his second self-titled album.

Local fans rarely have a chance to see Chacon in concert. His last was three years ago at the Concert Hall as the opening act for Los Lonely Boys and a short guest spot this summer at the Balcony Bar & Grill. He expects to have a record release party in Durango in March 2017 and noted that he will be playing the Walnut Room in Denver on Jan. 14.

Amongst the broad range of talented musicians who call Durango home, Thom Chacon is a treasured ambassador.

To learn more or listen to Thom Chacon, check out: www.thomchacon.com


Durango's Dylan

Chacon steps out of his drift boat on the Animas River with his dog, Delilah, while filmmaker Deborah Voorhees shoots video for "Easy Heart."/Photo by Jennaye Derge

Top Shelf

Down in front, LCK and danzas with wolves
Down in front, LCK and danzas with wolves
By Chris Aaland
11/07/2019

Last Saturday night at a Genuine Cowhide throwdown at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez, a sour old woman sitting on the side of the theatre firmly kicked my right calf and yelled at me to move out of the way.

Estonian laments, pumpkin drop & stinkin' in Zetroc
Estonian laments, pumpkin drop & stinkin' in Zetroc
By Chris Aaland
10/31/2019

There’s something comforting about honky-tonk music. One of country’s rowdier subgenres, it had its roots more in the barrooms than in churches, although its pioneers certainly sang gospel Sunday morning to repent for Saturday night’s excesses.

Batty concoctions, downtempo demons & Motown sound
Batty concoctions, downtempo demons & Motown sound
By Chris Aaland
10/24/2019

Hard to believe, but the holidays are practically here. This week’s entertainment slate tests all five or your senses with a witch’s cauldron full of activity.

Acoustic blues, rockin' at Ernie's  & smokin' that bluegrass
Acoustic blues, rockin' at Ernie's & smokin' that bluegrass
By Chris Aaland
10/17/2019

October is a busy time around the Aaland household. Annual highlights, including apple pressing, pumpkin gathering, wood splitting, chile cooking and leaf raking, and seem to take up every possible moment of the weekend.

Read All in Top Shelf

Day in the Life

On the rocks
On the rocks
By Stephen Eginoire
11/07/2019

Strolling up the Colorado Trail from the Junction Creek Trailhead on a sunny, clear afternoon one might take notice of the subtle play of water, light and stone in the shallow pools and riffles found trailside.

Etched in Stone
Etched in Stone
10/31/2019

In the case of gravestones, symbols are often used to represent or commemorate a soul no longer among the living.

Brown Town
Brown Town
By Stephen Eginoire
10/24/2019

It’s a unique time in the mountains before the snow comes.

Total Slackers
Total Slackers
10/17/2019

What started out as a method for rock climbers to hone their balance and concentration (and remain entertained on rest days), slacklining has evolved into a full-blown sport, if not art.

Read All in Day on the Life