Green gold and liquid cold

Green gold and liquid cold

Dragondeer, a psych-blues band from Denver that won the band competition at Telluride Blues & Brews a few years ago, headlines this year's San Juan Brewfest.

Chris Aaland - 08/24/2017

While and beer were made for each other. It’s one of the ultimate food and booze pairings, surpassed only by pizza and beer. This week is a sure sign of the changing of the seasons, as green chile roasts and the first local beerfest highlight the calendar.

Gazpacho New Mexican Restaurant holds its annual Hatch green chile roast from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. until they run out Saturday. You never know what goodness Matt Arias has in store. Some years, he’ll have extra produce to give away like giant yellow onions or fresh jalapen?os. On others, he’ll do a margarita special in the bar while you wait. My favorite was a green chile-infused margarita a few years back that was damned near perfect. For me, this means I’ll bag nearly three bushels on Friday night while swilling my own pitcher of margs. I’ll probably make the first batch of 2017 green chile while at it.

The first pot of green each year is a religious experience. My usual recipe starts with a puree of green chiles
(seeds, stems and skins removed), canned tomatoes, saute?ed onions and garlic, and a bevy of herbs, including various amounts of assorted chile powders (green, Chimayo red, Ancho and Cayenne), cumin, Mexican oregano, fresh cilantro, black pepper, salt and my not-so-secret ingredients: a shot each of gold tequila and white vinegar, a 12-oz. can of Mexican Logger and a quarter cup of brown sugar. My base is usually pheasant stock, although chicken stock works well, too. I thicken with a masa and water mixture. Browned cubes of pork add flavor and a rough chop on a few whole green chiles adds texture. Sometimes I get crazy and drop in cubes of potatoes and carrots to make a San Luis Valley-style green chile stew.

Saturday’s Huevos Rancheros smothered in the sacred first batch of green will prime me for the main event. The 19th annual San Juan Brewfest takes place Saturday in Buckley Park. This bad boy sells out, so if you haven’t snatched up your ticket yet, do so immediately. Gates open at noon for VIPs, 12:30 for upgraded general admission ticket holders and 1 p.m. for the rest of us. Last call is at 4:50. The musical lineup this year is strong. The headliner, Dragondeer, is a psych-blues band from Denver that won the band competition at Telluride Blues & Brews a few years ago. Durango’s own alt-country champions, Farmington Hill, opens.

The highlight, of course, is the beer. Fifty different breweries and distilleries will pour for the right to win the coveted People’s Choice Award. All of your favorite Durango booze slingers will be on hand, plus regional favorites like Avalanche and Golden Block (both from Silverton); Riff Raff and Pagosa (Pagosa Springs); Telluride; and Bottom Shelf (Bayfield). My favorites include Mr. Grumpy Pants (Ourayle House in Ouray), Elevation (Poncha Springs) and Melvin (Jackson Hole). “Hutch” Hutchison, a.k.a. Mr. Grumpy Pants, is a brewing savant. Bow before greatness when he’s pouring in the park. He’s the Sultan of Suds, the King of Kegs and the Prince of Pilsner. Wise men travel the world over to present him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Seriously, his beers are good.

Speaking of beerfests, Telluride Blues & Brews (Sept. 15-17) is completely sold out. But you still have a chance to pick up weekend passes and camping if you pledge to KSUT now at ksut.org and support public radio in the Four Corners. As part of the station’s fall membership drive (the on-air portion takes place from Sept. 11-15), KSUT will draw for a pair of earlybird festival winners at noon this Friday: one for the pair of Blues & Brews passes and camping; the other for patron’s passes with camping to the Four Corners Folk Festival (Sept. 1-3). Telluride’s lineup features Bonnie Raitt, Steve Winwood, the Drive-By Truckers and TajMo, the Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo’ Blues Band. Four Corners Folk Festival’s bill includes Los Lobos, the Wood Brothers, Bela Fleck & Abigail Wash-burn and many others.

Liver Down the River takes over the Animas City Theatre this weekend. Durango’s foremost purveyors of bluegrass jam share Friday’s bill with Pherkad and Saturday’s with the Outskirts. The Liver crew is a psych-a-funk-a-grass-a-delic sextet that’s both high and lonesome and boogielicous. Pherkad is the bass-dropping duo comprised of Cheese and Jason. Their project, like most good musical ones, was born out of a stoner’s living room. The Outskirts play jam-infused bluegrass and stole the show at last Saturday’s Mancos Valley Summer Brewfest. Doors are at 8:30 Friday and Saturday, with music starting at 9.

The Durango Arts Center hosts the second weekend of “Rock of Ages” this Thursday through Sunday. It’s a rock & roll musical that celebrates the big, bad ’80s of the Sunset Strip at the fictional Bourbon Room (a knock-off of the very real Whiskey a Go-Go). It’s a celebration of the heavy metal decadence of Reagan-era debauchery. Local musicians and actors like Dave Mensch (as sex machine Stacee Jaxx), Paul Arthur Stewart III (as Drew) and Melissa Kirschstein (the small-town girl, Sherri) hold down the lead roles. I’m excited to see my buddy Fred Kozak, best known locally as a bluegrass picker in the Badly Bent and the Stillhouse Junkies, unleash his Guitar Hero pyrotechnics.

Elsewhere: This week’s Burger & a Band Night at James Ranch features the grassy sounds of the Blue Moon Ramblers at 5 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Aug. 24); also tonight Ska-B-Q spotlights the music of Tony Poer, the free 5:30 p.m. Concerts in the Plaza at Three Springs features Pearl & Wood, a three-piece Americana outfit from the Roaring Fork Valley that incorporates banjo and cello with vocal harmonies, and Lisa Blue holds court at the Kennebec Cafe? from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Sky Pilot brings the jam to the back patio at Moe’s from 7- 10 p.m. Friday; Stillhouse Junkies return to Durango Craft Spirits at 7 p.m. Friday; Kirk James does solo blues at Serious Texas BBQ South from 5-8 p.m. Saturday; the Black Velvet duo is back at the Doubletree’s Animas River Cafe? at 5 p.m. Saturday; and the old-time duo of Jane Voss & Hoyle Osborne play a Wines of the San Juan outdoor concert from 4-7 p.m. Sunday down south in Blanco, N.M.

Roll out the barrel? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net

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