Cowboys, Shillelaghs and pared-down punk

Cowboys, Shillelaghs and pared-down punk

The Stubby Shillelaghs headline the Highland Games & Celtic Festival at Riverside Park in Aztec this weekend.

Chris Aaland - 10/04/2018

It’s going to be a multi-cultural week, with everything from dusty boots and kilts to Mardi Gras beads and dirndls. The 30th annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering rides into town tonight (Thurs., Oct. 4) through Sunday. The musical headliner is Dave Stamey, a member of the Western Music Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists. He has two shows tonight at the Hank; the 6 p.m. concert is already sold out, but tickets remained to the 8 p.m. show as of Tuesday.

Other highlights include cowboy theatre at 6 p.m. tonight at the Durango Arts Center. “The Cocinero” is a Western variety show with a twist, as a cattle drive’s camp cook has a secret concerning buried gold. More than 20 musicians, poets and actors are part of this show. There’s a cowboy poet train that pulls out of the depot at 10 a.m. Friday, with performers in every coach and a BBQ lunch at Cascade Canyon; a cowboy chuckwagon breakfast from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday across from the train depot and a cowboy parade at 10 a.m. on Main; plus art exhibits, cowboy humor, poetry readings and more. Durangocowboypoetrygathering.org is your source for a complete schedule and tickets.

The Aztec Highland Games & Celtic Festival rolls into Riverside Park in Aztec this Saturday and Sunday. For the initiated, it’s a bit daunting to wrap your brain around. So let’s break it down, starting with the Highland Games, also known as Caledonian games. In Aztec, athletes will compete in eight Celtic heavy athletic events, including the sheaf toss, weight for height, Braemar stone, light and heavy Scottish hammer throw, light and heavy eight for distance, and caber toss. It’s the Four Corners Regional Championship, for both lads and lasses.

Meanwhile, there’s music on the Connie Gotsch Memorial Stage, including the headliners, The Stubby Shillelaghs. If you must know, a shillelagh (pronounced shi-lay-lay) is defined as a thick stick of blackthorn or oak used in Ireland, typically as a weapon. The Stubbies, as they’re called up on the Front Range, have been around since 2010 and have an aptly-titled CD called “Folk Your Face.” Other performers include the Kitchen Jam Band, Gypsyfire, Devil’s Dram, Top O’ the Mornin’, Mad Haggis, the Desert Highlanders and $6 Sliders.

There’s also a Highland Dance Competition, workshops, kids’ activities, food, beer and a whole bunch of beer-bellied men running around in kilts. I’ve been twice and loved every minute of it. To answer the two obvious questions you probably have. Yes, there’s haggis ... and it’s delicious. And yes, it’s proper to free-ball it underneath your kilt.

Newgrass returns to the Animas City Theatre with Kyle Hollingsworth and Liver Down the River at 9 p.m. Sunday. Hollingsworth, of course, is the keyboard player for String Cheese Incident. His fourth solo record, “50,” was released on his 50th birthday this past March 2. The celebratory record took a year and a half to write and record, utilizing his band plus a host of musicians, including Andy Hall (dobro player for The Infamous String-dusters), the Motet Horns, DJ Logic and others. Liver, of course, is Durango’s home-grown funky newgrass ensemble, fresh off a busy summer of festivals.

The Highway 3 Roadhouse hosts a Mardi Gras fundraiser for Alternative Horizons from 1-5 p.m. Saturday. The event includes delicious, home-cooked Southern fare from Norton’s, a wine and beer tasting from Put a Cork in It, music from the Afrobeatniks and an auction of local packages that pair food, lodging, relaxation and fun. Cost is $75 per person and can be purchased at Put a Cork in It or Maria’s Bookshop, as well as online.

The San Juan Symphony kicks off its season with “Rhapsodic and Exotic” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Community Concert Hall. The event features bassoon soloist Denise Turner and conductor Thomas Heuser, who has selected Hungarian arabesques, flashy Russian dances and the glorious Second Symphony of Jean Sibelius.

Up north, Purgatory Resort will be hosting Oktoberfest on Saturday from 1 – 5 p.m. In addition to German food and brews from Durango’s five craft breweries, the afternoon will include music from Devin Scott, State 38 and the Alpiners. There will also be non-tubed meat options from Mountain Taco, Bounty for the Belly and others, plus vendors and an old-time photo booth. For those not wanting to risk driving the gauntlet back to Durango, Purg is also offering lodging specials.

My how time flies. It’s already the first of the month, meaning Steamworks will tap another firkin, this time Mole? Stout, which evokes the essence of chocolate that’s traditional in Mexican mole? sauces. “We’re revisiting the Mole? Stout brew as it’s very timely in the season of chiles,” Ken Martin, Steamworks’ director of brewing operations, said. “We were also very excited to incorporate local chiles grown by Steamworks’ culinary team member Chris Bissonette.” The base is Steamworks’ Backside Stout, a moderately hopped dark beer with complex malt and oat flavors, yet sweet with chocolate and roast overtones. Four different chiles were blended into a sauce, with pure cocoa powder, cinnamon and a bit of Mexican oregano. “It should work in harmony with the chocolate, caramel and toasty flavors of Backside Stout, perfect for the cool days of autumn,” Martin added.

KDUR presents a free concert by minimalist punk band Sihasin at 7 p.m. Monday in the College Union Ballroom as part of the college’s Real History of the Americas event. Sihasin blends punk, rock and traditional Native American music. Their two records were recorded, mixed and mastered by the famed Ed Stasium, known for his work with the Ramones and Living Colour, among others.

Bluesman AJ Fullerton performs at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez. Schooled in folk, rock, bluegrass, blues and roots, Fullerton blends fingerpicking and slide guitar with uptempo blues and rock grooves. A native of the Western Slope, he won an unprecedented eight honors at the 2017 Colorado Blues Society awards, including Best Guitarist, Best Male Vocalist, Best Band and Best Solo/Duo. Kirk James opens.

I don’t know where you’ve been, but I see you won first prize? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

Top Shelf

Rockin' Reverend, a king & a doll, and gastro heaven
Rockin' Reverend, a king & a doll, and gastro heaven
By Chris Aaland
04/18/2019

Dude, where’s Makar? He’s in a burgundy and blue jersey, of course! The day after skating in the NCAA men’s hockey championship game for UMass – and two days after winning the Hobey Baker Award as the most talented college hockey player in America – Cale Makar signed his entry-level contract for the Colorado Avalanche.

Meltdown goes big for 25th
Meltdown goes big for 25th
By Chris Aaland
04/11/2019

The sweet sounds of banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, guitar and upright bass will fill the air this week as the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown turns 25. The Meltdown rolled out all the stops for the big anniversary, too, by booking one of its finest lineups ever.

Delicious water and funkalicious roots
Delicious water and funkalicious roots
By Chris Aaland
04/04/2019

It just doesn’t take much anymore. I spent my 51st birthday Sunday afternoon at Durango Craft Spirits, listening to tunes with my buddy Michael McCardell, while enjoying a couple of old fashioneds and a mule.

Goodbye to BREW, gospel- ninja-soul & Cuckoo's 20th
Goodbye to BREW, gospel- ninja-soul & Cuckoo's 20th
By Chris Aaland
03/28/2019

Sadly, one of Durango’s favorite nightspots and a magical brew-pub, BREW Pub & Kitchen, closes its doors this month. Like many other restaurants and businesses, the aftermath of the 416 Fire chipped away.

Read All in Top Shelf

Day in the Life

It's Snow Joke
It's Snow Joke
By Stephen Eginoire
04/18/2019

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” Hall of Fame baseball catcher Yogi Berra once said. That’s a sentiment no one can argue with in these parts. According to Snotel, as of April 12, we are sitting at 153 percent of average snowpack in the San Juans.

Slippery When Wet
Slippery When Wet
By Stephen Eginoire
04/11/2019

What could be a better way to squander a beautiful, warm spring weekend than to spend it sloshing through an icy, water-filled canyon where the non-appearance of direct sunlight is the only guarantee?

Salty Dawgs
Salty Dawgs
By Stephen Eginoire
04/04/2019

A few thousand CFS of cold, clean, snowmelt roaring through one of the driest climates in the United States is a sight to behold.

Etched in Stone
Etched in Stone
By Stephen Eginoire
03/28/2019

With tens of thousands of Ancestral Puebloan sites spanning the Four Corners, rock art decorates countless desert-varnished boulders and cliff walls. These ancient etchings conjure tales that almost seem best left to the imagination.

Read All in Day on the Life