George Winston, Eli Cook and Marvel Years

George Winston, Eli Cook and Marvel Years

Blues prodigy Eli Cook returns for a pair of shows: Friday night at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez and Saturday at Crash Music in Aztec).

Chris Aaland - 10/12/2017

Some stories are simply inspirational. Take legendary pianist George Winston, who returns to town for a pair of con- certs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Henry Strater Theatre. Winston has long championed food banks, soliciting canned food donations at his concerts (this weekend included). In recent years, he’s added

cancer research to his long list of causes. Winston’s latest and 14th solo piano album, “Spring Carousel,” is a cancer research benefit album released earlier this year (proceeds from both the album and the tour will be donated to the City of Hope Cancer Hospital).

In the fall of 2012, Win- ston’s acclaimed career that had spanned more than 40 years and $15 mil- lion in sales came to a crossroads. At a perform- ance in Sandpoint, Idaho, he barely made it through the second half of his show before being rushed to the emergency room. He was transferred to City of Hope, where he was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome. MDS is just Winston’s latest battle with cancer. He’s also survived thyroid and skin cancer. While recovering from a bone marrow transplant, he spent time at the piano in the hospital auditorium every night. He composed a whopping 59 songs while in recov- ery, 15 of which ended up on “Spring Carousel.”

Many music fans may not recognize Winston’s name. Let’s face it – New Age music isn’t exactly all the rage with younger generations, and the pianist has often been wrongly pigeon- holed as a New Age guy. A triple threat on piano, harmonica and Hawaiian slack key guitar, Winston has recorded music that nearly all of us are familiar with ... namely, his loving in- terpretations of Vince Guaraldi’s piano compositions for Char- lie Brown TV specials. Winston has championed Guaraldi, as can be heard in his excellent “Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi” collection. His other platinum albums – “Au- tumn,” “December,” “Forest,” “Summer” and “Winter Into Spring” – showcase a brilliant fusion of chamber, jazz, Crescent City R&B and more.

Blues prodigy Eli Cook returns to the region for a pair of shows this week (Friday night at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez and Saturday at Crash Music in the Aztec Theatre). He first picked up a guitar at age 13 and within two years was playing acoustic gigs at gospel revivals and electric ones in a blues power trio. By the time he was 18, he’d developed a bone-chilling growl and was labeled as a torchbearer for the likes of blues legends Son House and Lead Belly. Raised in the mountains of Virginia, the country sounds of Doc Watson and Chet Atkins crept in, but as a young man, he was also influenced by the rock & roll of contem- porary acts like Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden.

His new record, “High-Dollar Gospel,” is a mostly acoustic gem that balances old-soul wisdom on originals as well as covers by Muddy Waters, Roosevelt Sykes and Bob Dylan. A master of all stringed instruments (Cook plays acoustic, electric and slide gui- tar, mandolin, banjo and bass on the record), it’s the growl in his voice that conjures up Howlin’ Wolf.

Marvel Years, the stage name of producer/guitarist Cory Wythe, brings glitch-hop and electro-soul dance music to the Animas City Theatre tonight (Thursday) at 8:30 p.m. Much more than your av- erage DJ, Marvel Years is an incredible guitarist who shreds well be- yond his years. His approach to blending electronic beats and soulful guitar on his original tracks and remixes creates a sound that is a unique hybrid of EDM combining glitch, retro funk, classic rock, soul, jazz and hip-hop. Taking the stage just before Marvel Years is Mikey Thunder, a DJ who likes to party. Thunder spins a genre-bending, bass-driven party rock, fusing electronic beats with funk, hip-hop, soul, jazz, blues, swing, reg- gae and just about anything else the party may call for. Also on the bill are Unfold Music and Krunkle Tom.

The 2017-18 Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango recital series kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Fri- day with performances by Brandon Christensen (vio- lin), Marilyn Garst (piano), Erik Gustafson (tenor), Anne Eisfeller (harp) and the Southwest Piano Trio (Kay Newman on violin, Bonnie Mangold on Cello and Garst on piano, assisted by Lori Lovato on clarinet). The program will feature major sonatas by Mozart and Brahms alongside concert pieces by George Gershwin and two film composers – John Williams and Nino Rota.

The corner of College and Main gets bluegrassy this weekend. First, La La Bones plays the Balcony Backstage at 5:30 p.m. Fri- day. The Clods brave the elements outdoors at The Balcony at 4:30 Saturday afternoon (rumor has it that we’ll have plenty of sunshine and blue skies this weekend). The Six Dollar String Band, dubbed the “Judas Priest of old-time music” by a national headliner at last year’s Meltdown, strut their stuff at the Balcony Backstage at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. And the Stillhouse Junkies get you warmed up for Sunday night’s Broncos game at 4:30 p.m. at the Balcony.

Opera season is in full swing with the latest installment of The Met: Live in HD, presented by the Community Concert Hall at 10:55 a.m. Saturday in the Vallecito Room of the Student Union Ballroom. This time around, Mozart’s Die Zauberflote will be screened. Mozart’s magical fable, translated in Julie Taymor’s dy- namic production, is said to capture both the opera’s earthy com- edy and its noble mysticism. Run time is three hours, with one intermission.

October means Oktoberfest. BREW Pub & Kitchen is cur- rently pouring a fine example of the traditional German amber lager, along with Tallulah, an enchanting pale ale. And hats off to Erik Maxson for tapping The Breakfast Club, a beer brewed for a couple of my colleagues in Radioland. The beer is a California common style lager with notes of Desert Sun coffee and Madagas- car vanilla beans to keep you awake. It’s a tip of the cap to Deakon and Jessi Kay, who host the Breakfast Club on The Point.

Elsewhere: Pete Giuliani entertains at this week’s Ska-B-Q from 5-7 tonight at the World Headquarters in Bodo Park; Kirk James goes solo at the Kennebec Cafe? in Hesperus from 5:30-7:30 p.m. tonight and at Durango Harley-Davidson for the 2018 Model Open House event from noon ‘til 2 Saturday; and the Black Velvet Trio returns to the Derailed Pour House from 7-11 p.m. Friday.

You have humility, nobility and a sense of honor? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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