Hi*Beams, Erik & Friends and Moska Mule

Hi*Beams, Erik & Friends and Moska Mule

Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams play retro honky-tonk tonight (Thurs., July 26) at Buckley Park starting at 5:30 p.m.

Chris Aaland - 07/26/2018

Technically speaking, late July is summer’s midpoint. This year, more than ever, we all seem anxious for autumn, waiting to reclaim what 416 incinerated before the summer even got started. Businesses are hurting. Employees are broke. The river is low and choked with ash runoff. Fish are suffocating from Hermosa Creek all the way to the state line. Many of my favorite parts of the San Juan National Forest are still inaccessible, and there’s no telling when we’ll be able to hike back in.

I’m happy that some of my favorite mushrooming and grouse hunting grounds were spared from the fires. Others were right in its path. And, while I’ve spared my creek trout during this low-water summer, I’m hoping the monsoons will raise creek levels and lower temperatures enough to float a caddis without remorse. I’m anxious for the time when I can light a campfire again, guilt-free and safely.

Festival season, too, is in the homestretch. Telluride Jazz (Aug. 3-5), Rhythms on the Rio (Aug. 3-5), Meltdown on the Mesa (Aug. 18), Four Corners Folk Festival (Labor Day weekend) and Blues & Brews (Sept. 14-16) are still on the horizon. But blink a couple of times, and they’ll all be behind us.

Water restrictions in my neighborhood put the kibosh on any real gardening. I did rescue a couple of dying tomato plants that were intended for a co-worker. At least four or five of these plants are producing cherry tomatoes. And my sage plants seem to produce from start to finish each year, even with minimal watering.

Otto starts his final season of YAFL football next week. Next month, he’ll enter middle school. In many ways, it feels like we’ve lost a summer of his youth, if for nothing other than the summer that burned away.

The free Concerts @ the Park series concludes tonight (Thurs., July 26) starting at 5:30 p.m. in Buckley Park with the return of Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams. This retro honky-tonk outfit from the Front Range is no stranger to Durango, having played in the region dozens of times through the years, most recently at a KSUT fundraiser at the Powerhouse Science Center in April. The quintet has been busy since, recording a new album that was produced by legendary guitarist Bill Kirchen, of Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen fame. Kirchen joined the Hi*Beams at a couple of performances recently, energizing an already frenetic band that’s loyal to such traditional country forms as the aforementioned honky tonk, trucker anthems, rockabilly and Western swing. The Hi*Beams were scheduled to perform a freebie in Buckley last summer, but the show was cancelled due to heavy smoke from the Lightner Creek Fire. This time around, the only thing smokin’ will be Greg Schochet’s double-neck guitar, Bret Billings’ steel, the upright thumping of Ben O’Connor, the punk-schooled drumming of Damon Smith, and Halden’s own crazed energy.

Sadly, Music in the Mountains’ 32nd season draws to a close this weekend with festival orchestra performances of “Beauty & the Beast” at 7 p.m. Friday; “I Love the Piano” at 7 p.m. Saturday; and “Prince Charming” at 7 p.m. Sunday. All three shows will be at the Festival Tent at Purgatory. Tickets remain at musicinthemountains.com.

The next installment of Erik & Friends finds a pair of Lawn Chair Kings holding court at Mancos Brewing from 5-9 p.m. Sunday when LCK frontman Erik Nordstrom and drummer Patrick Dressen perform acoustic tunes. Dressen, the granddaddy of the Durango bluegrass scene, has played guitar and mandolin for such groups as the Badly Bent, Heart & Soul and, if you’ve been around these parts long enough, the Marmot Mudflaps.

If you’re heading up to Telluride in the middle of next week, check out Old Salt Union at the free concert series at Sunset Plaza in Mountain Village. The up-and-coming quintet is signed to the groovy Compass Records label and making waves across the country. They’ll play at 6 p.m.

Wednesday. Looking to the future, alt-country songwriting sensation Brent Cobb plays the same series Aug. 8, while the jazz innovators in the Charlie Hunter Trio perform there Aug. 15. For the lucky few, RockyGrass runs Friday through Sunday at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons. It’s a veritable who’s who of bluegrass, with headliners including Sam Bush, David Grisman & Peter Rowan (performing “Old & in the Way” in its entirety), Hot Rize, Steep Canyon Rangers and a DGQ reunion, among others. A Friday night women’s jam includes Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, Missy Raines & Molly Tuttle. This one sold out immediately, but scalpers usually line the highway leading into the ranch.

In brewing news, Ska has canned its 23rd anniversary beer, Moska Mule. Spicy ginger and fresh lime flavor the slightly acidic, slightly sour wonder. It’s billed as being inspired by the vodka-and-ginger beer concoction, the Moscow Mule. While I don’t quite get that taste, I certainly found my first six-pack to be refreshing. The Moska is the first of Ska’s anniversary ales to be available outside Durango.

Elsewhere: Terry Rickard plays from 6-8 p.m. tonight on the Dalton Ranch patio; Kirk James picks solo blues at Serious Texas BBQ South from 5-8 p.m. Friday, while he brings the full band to the Rusty Shovel Saloon at Vallecito Lake from 1-5 p.m. Saturday; the Lisa Blue Trio blends jazz, rock, country and pop at 6 p.m. Friday at Foxfire Farms Winery near Ignacio; and Black Velvet stays busy with three gigs this weekend, including 7-11 p.m. Friday at the Derailed Pour House, 5-9 p.m. Saturday at the Animas River Beer Garden at the Doubletree Hotel, and 4-8 p.m. Sunday at the Balcony.

The best thing I’ve heard this week is the third album from alternative country musician Rayland Baxter, “Wide Awake.” The son of legendary steel guitarist Bucky Baxter, Rayland has moved from twangy country to more of an indie-rock sound. Politics enter the fray, too, on two of the record’s early singles: “Strange American Dream” and “79 Shiny Revolvers.” The latter features the chorus, “You really wanna save the world, man/Well I wanna save it, too/We can blow ’em away/The American way/79 shiny revolvers.”

Blowing through the jasmine in my mind? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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