Baked goods, Blind Boys, Bar D and the blues

Baked goods, Blind Boys, Bar D and the blues
Chris Aaland - 12/15/2016

If I only had a blue coat, I would be the Cookie Monster. Christmas cookies are my Achilles’ heel. Try and cut back on beer, eat more veggies, trim the fat ... and Shelly always busts out the baking pans this time of year. But it’s the holidays, right?

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for working off those excess calories in the upcoming week starting tonight, Thurs. Dec. 15. The Community Concert Hall welcomes the Blind Boys of Alabama and their “Talkin’ Christmas” show at 7:30 p.m. One of the most culturally significant bands of the 20th century, the Blind Boys have the rare distinction of being recognized worldwide as both living legends and modern day innovators. They don’t just borrow from old traditions; they helped define them. The original members first sang together as children at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s. Jimmy Carter, who still leads the group today, was one of those original members. They toured the South during the Jim Crow era of the 1940s and ’50s. In the ’60s, they sang at benefits for Martin Luther King Jr. and became part of the soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement. And in the ’80s, they were part of the gospel revival. Since then, they’ve collaborated with the likes of Taj Mahal, Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper, among others. I’ve seen them a half dozen times, both locally, at feativals at Telluride Town Park’s legendary Sunday morning gospel sets, and on the Front Range. The 85-year-old Carter isn’t getting any younger. Who knows how many more times we’ll get to see this living legend perform live.

On Friday, Minneapolis hip hop heavyweight Brother Ali comes to the Animas City Theater. Ali, who has the dubious distinction of being a white, albino, Muslim rapper, has earned accolades and a large following for his honest, thought-provoking reflections on social justice and American culture – along with a heavy dose of peace and love. Show kicks off at 9 p.m.

The Bar D Wranglers bring their Christmas Jubilee to the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. These guys – and this show, in particular – are a Durango holiday tradition. Expect all of your holiday favorites to be done in Western swing and cowboy style, along with the Wranglers’ unique sense of humor. This quartet includes Gary Cook (guitar), Richard Lee Cody (guitar), Matt Palmer (fiddle) and Joel Racheff (upright bass). Cook is a two-time national flat pick champion. Much more than a group of local pickers, they’ve performed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. Get a taste of what you’ll hear when they perform a KSUT Session at 11:06 a.m. today (Thursday) as part of KSUT’s 12 Hours of Giving one day fund drive.

12 Hours of Giving is KSUT’s way of giving back to its listener members, who have sustained the station through donations in 2016. At the top of each hour from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., KSUT will give away ski packages, CD bundles, concert & dinner pairings, outdoor gear and more. The station’s Music Blend DJs will pick out 10-disc sets of their favorite albums from the past year as prizes, with goodies from Osprey, Purgatory, Wolf Creek, Blue Lake Ranch, Animas Chocolate Co., the Community Concert Hall and more rounding out the bill. Call 970-563-0255 or visit ksut.org to make a pledge or be entered into the drawings. Plus, all donors who pledge will be entered into the station’s end-of-year drawing for an iPad with case and over-ear headphones courtesy the Mac Ranch ... a $525 value!

The Henry Strater Theatre hosts a festive night of Celtic music featuring Patrick Crossing at 7 p.m. Sunday. The Durango group will honor the deep roots, joy and banter that is characteristic of Celtic holiday music. Doors open at 6:30, and the Mahogany Grill has some dinner & show three-course menu options.

Jay & Silent Bob come to Telluride this week! Film icons Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes made history in such classics as “Clerks,” “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma.” Now you can see them live recording their comedy podcast “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old” at the Sheridan Opera House at 7 p.m. Friday. Then at 10p.m., Smith takes the stage solo for “An Evening with Kevin Smith.”

This week’s Top Shelf list features Rob Rawls’ 10 favorite blues releases of 2016. Rob hosts “Barrelhouse Blues” on KSUT from 7-9 each Tuesday night. 2016 was an excellent year for live blues albums, with releases from Keb’ Mo,’ Eric Clapton and Joe Bonamassa. Several of these are listed below.

1. Eric Bibb, “Leadbelly Gold.”

2. Danielle Nicole, “Wolf Den.” A young artist to watch, Nicole released a solo album that unleashed her powerful vocals on an unsuspecting world. She served notice to Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt that there’s a new gun in town.

3. Eric Clapton, “Crossroads Revisited.”

4. The Record Co., “Give it Back to You.” One of the biggest stories of the year was the success of this young blues-rock power trio out of L.A. Their debut album, “Give it Back to You,” has stayed near the top of the blues charts the entire year, and they have been selling out venues all across the country.

5. Colin James, “Blues Highway.” Straight-ahead blues from Canada.

6. Ivas John, “Good Days a Comin.’” 2016 was not a good year for acoustic blues. The one bright spot was this album from a young blues artist out of Cape Girardeau, Mo.

7. Keb’ Mo,’ “Hot Pink Blues Album.”

8. Joe Bonamassa, “Desperation Blues.” This was Bonamassa’s polished studio album at the beginning of the year. He also released “Live at the Greek,” an excellent live album.

9. Big Head Blues Club, “Way Down Inside.” Colorado’s Big Head Todd & the Monsters recruited some blues ringers for this album.

10. Imarhan, self-titled. On the international front, the big story this year comes out of North Africa, where the desert dwellers have taken up the electric guitar, bringing blues full circle, with bands like Imarhan and Songhoy Blues.

Releases that nearly made Rob’s Top 10 include Levi Parham, Parker Millsap, Nick Waterhouse, John Bigham, Eric Lindell and Eli Paperboy Reed, plus true blues acts Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and a band called The Rides.

‘Cause cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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