Carbo-loading, Amy Winehouse and a bike race

Carbo-loading, Amy Winehouse and a bike race

Local artists pay tribute to the late Amy Winehouse at the ACT this Friday night.

Chris Aaland - 05/24/2018

For those of you who like to play the license plate game, be grateful. Peak tourist season is upon us, meaning you’ll be able to augment sightings of Texas, California, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona plates with flatlanders from Rhode Island, Delaware, Alabama and Mississippi.

That’s right, summer is here! Families from across this great union and beyond will descend upon D-Town to ride the train, drive through Mesa Verde, buy kind chocolates and gummy bears, negotiate Red Mountain Pass at 5 MPH while white-knuckling the entire way, and generally look confused at our assortment of one-way streets, green bicycle turn lanes and double left turns. (Hopefully they don’t chomp the edibles before setting out over Red Mountain Pass ... the paranoia is overwhelming, trust me.)

An armada of two-wheeling freaks descends upon town Friday afternoon for the 23rd annual Faceplant Ale tapping. The collaborative brew between Steamworks and Ska is a high-light on each spring’s drinking calendar. It all starts at 4:20 p.m. at Ska Brewing World Headquarters in Bodo Park; Rally point No. 2 is Steamworks Brewing at the intersection of 2nd & 8th. Then it winds down in Buckley Park for a big throw down. Dress in a funny costume, ride your bike from points A to B to C, get a free commemorative pint glass and Faceplant beer and maybe even win a door prize. In Buckley, there’s a joint effort beer garden from 3-6 Friday afternoon, plus music from DJ CodeStar and Radio La Chusma.

OK, maybe the tapping party isn’t the reason most of the riders come to Durango each Memorial Day weekend. Maybe it’s the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic itself that attracts the throngs. This whole shindig started when Tom Mayer challenged his brother Jim to a bike race over the passes to Silverton decades ago. When the train whistle blew, off they rode. Little did they know that they were starting an event that would play a central role in Durango’s history.

In 1972, a group of 36 riders decided to celebrate the first run of the train in the spring by accepting the challenge. In the decades since, the Iron Horse has become one of the classic bicycle events in the West. Durango, being centrally located between Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, was a natural staging point and gracious host. The event grew into a Memorial Day tradition and the town soon became synonymous with cycling, eventually becoming home to dozens of international riders and Olympians.

The Iron Horse became more than just a 50-mile ride that participants must complete while meeting minimum times to the summits of two daunting mountain passes (Coal Bank and Molas). Through the years, there have been criteriums, circuit races, tours, BMX events, trials, dual slaloms, team trail rides and mountain bike races. The Narrow Horse Swim (presented by the Durango Swim Club on Friday), the Narrow Horse Triathlon (Friday) and the Narrow Horse 10k Run (Sunday) are among the other competitive activities, while parties and kids’ activities dot the calendar. Ironhorsebicycleclassic.com serves as a good resource for a complete schedule and description of events.

Get your groove on Friday at the Animas City Theatre, where J-Calvin (aka Jesse Ogle of Hello Dollface fame) presents an Amy Winehouse Tribute. The event features local lead singer Sarah Pumpian as well as a nine-piece band and burlesque show. Doors open at 9 p.m., with special guest Bad Goat Disco taking the stage at 10. A troubled genius, Winehouse sang some of the most important music of the early 2000s before drinking herself to death in 2011 (toxicology reports showed a 0.416 blood alcohol content at the time of her passing). One could only imagine the music Winehouse would have recorded in coming years, what with political turmoil in England and America, the #metoo movement and more. She truly was a once-in-a-generation talent.

On Wednesday, the ACT hosts Eminence Ensemble, a Denver-based sextet that takes listeners down the rabbit hole with genre-bending music, soulful vocals and playful lyrics. The band refuses to be pigeonholed, showing interest in nearly every genre and taking its fans along on a musical journey. You’ll hear influences from ’80s hard rock, ’70s soul and funk, and contemporary R&B. Nikolai is also on the bill, bringing hip-hop to the evening’s mix. Rize Tha Rebel opens at 9:30 p.m.

If you want to escape the craziness around Durango, head west for the first of this summer’s Mancos Grand Summer Nights, which takes place from 5-8 p.m. Saturday on West Grand Ave. in downtown Mancos. Hurricane Jake’s One Man Band will perform, plus there will be a gallery crawl, magnetic poetry, interactive art and food. Hurricane Jake is a bluesman out of Cortez who sings, plays guitar and drums at the same time, and weaves swing, jazz, rockabilly and blues into a big ol’ sound. He looks the part with sideburns and a cool logo featuring skull and crossbones, only the bones are actually wrenches. Remember ... Life is what you Mancos.

If you go, you might want to check out the Four Corners’ newest purveyor of adult beverages, Outlier Cellars, located just a block south of Grand on Main. If you know where the Absolute Bakery & Cafe? is on Main, simply walk diagonally across the street to arrive at the cidery. Outlier is drawing rave reviews for its Fenceline Cider, made with Montezuma County apples, as well as for its quaint outdoor patio adjacent to the Mancos River.

The best thing I’ve heard this week is “Providence Canyon,” the sophomore major label release from Georgia-born outlaw Brent Cobb. He’s the latest in a string of neo-traditionalists in the vein of Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Margo Price. His music and persona owes equally to outlaw country icons like Waylon Jennings and Southern rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd. The cousin of Nashville’s most in-demand producer, Dave Cobb, he broke through in 2016 when his big league debut, “Shine on Rainy Day,” was nominated for a Grammy. With a voice sweeter and softer than most of his peers (think Willie Nelson meets Al Green) and layers of Americana and bluegrass, Cobb tackles issues ranging from relationships to booze. “Mornin’s Gonna Come” is a standout, with its predictions of next-day regret after a night of binge drinking, while “Ain’t a Road Too Long” explores the never-ending cycle of performing in lonely, faraway places.

Don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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