March Madness, Moon Hooch & In the Mood

March Madness, Moon Hooch & In the Mood

Pascuala Ilabaca y Fauna bring Chilean music (and badass accordion!) to the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday.

Chris Aaland - 03/21/2019

The most glorious two days of sports are upon us once again as March Madness gets under way today and Friday. Six-teen games a day. Buzzer beaters. Cinderellas. Favorites sent packing.

The 2018-19 season will long be remembered as the Days of Zion. Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson stands at just 6-foot-7, but he’s a giant in the game. At 285 lbs., he’d already be the second heaviest player in the NBA. What sets him apart isn’t just the girth, but the vertical jump, measured at 45 inches. When Zion flies through the lane, he’s capable of posterizing anyone. No dunk is too audacious for the man.

Zion is already one of those feared one-name guys like LeBron, Kobe, Magic, Kareem and Wilt. He’s the hottest commodity in basketball and sure to be a franchise-changing player at the next level.

But will he lead Duke to its sixth NCAA title this spring? That’s a question worth pondering.

I’m a lifelong Duke basketball fan because a kid from the neighborhood that I used to play pick-up games with at the Jeffco YMCA in the mid ‘80s – Marty Clark – wound up winning a pair of titles as a reserve guard for the Blue Devils in 1991 and ’92. I was fortunate to play in the highest level of Colorado schoolboy basketball back in the day. Wheat Ridge was a perennial powerhouse (at least through my sophomore year), and we routinely played summer league, AAU and preseason scrimmages against the best teams from Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and the metro area suburbs. I got to post up against future NBA and NFL players and held my own. Clark, three years my younger, always possessed a smooth game and fantastic shot. Following him on TV during his college career was easy. Ever since, I’ve watched one All-American after another suit up for Coach K. Three more titles came along the way, much to the despair of my friends who rooted for Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.

This year’s Duke team is loaded with three freshmen projected to be top five NBA picks later this spring. In addition to Zion, forwards R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish are capable of dominating any game. Throw in point guard Tre Jones – one of the best defenders and passers in the nation – and you should have the makings of one of the most dominant teams in NCAA history, rivaling legendary squads from Houston (three straight Final Fours for Phil Slama Jama from 1982-84), UNLV (1990-91) and Kentucky (the 2014-15 team that went 38-0 before being upset in the Final Four). The problem is, none of those teams finished the deal and cut down the nets.

Duke has several Achilles’ heels. They shoot poorly from 3-point range and the foul line. If any of the big three suffer injuries or land in foul trouble, their bench is surprisingly thin. And their 3-point defense is inconsistent. Their 29-5 record and style points in a tough schedule earned them the overall No. 1 seed, but I’d be surprised to see them cakewalk through the tourney.

I see five teams with serious chances to do damage: Duke; their archrival, North Carolina; perennial powerhouse Kentucky; legendary underachievers Virginia; and everybody’s favorite underdog, Gonzaga. Big 10 in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State are capable of deep runs, as is Tennessee, which challenged Kentucky and LSU for an SEC crown this year. I don’t take much stock in the Big 12, although Kansas and Kansas State are certainly skilled enough to knock off some higher seeds.

One of my brackets sees Duke as my champion, while the other picks the Tar Heels. My heart wants to see Zion cut down the nets, but my head tells me UNC wins it all again. See you at BREW today and Friday as I watch the action with a cold pint of  Erik’s finest in front of me. If you need to get your boogie on this week, catch Moon Hooch with special guests Elena Shirin of Aramboa and local hero Peter Robot at 9:30 p.m. Friday. Based in EDM, Moon Hooch uses a live horn section to drive a reverse DJ effect, taking live sound from their horns and running it through their laptops for recorded effects. Elements of virtuosic jazz and groovy funk spice up the mix.

If big band is your bag, you’ve probably already purchased tickets to the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Community Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Miller was one of the most successful bandleaders in big band and swing in the 1930s and ’40s, recording such standards as “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” A Colorado boy who attended Fort Morgan High School and the University of Colorado, he was shot down over the English Channel in 1944 en route from London to Paris, where he was set to perform with his U.S. Army Air Forces Band. The 18-piece ensemble that carries his name keeps his music alive.

The Concert Hall also hosts Chilean music at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when Pascuala Ilabaca y Fauna come to town. An accordion-wielding songstress, Ilabaca is a favorite on the new scene of young Chilean singer/songwriters. Her music is rooted in traditional sounds, but incorporates shades of jazz, pop, rock and foreign influences from India and Mexico. Critics rave that her stage presence “conjures up sweetness and empowerment at the same time, setting her songs alive with both fragility and verve.”

One of Colorado’s best bands in any genre, DeVotchKa, plays the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride at 9 p.m. Saturday. The Denver-based quartet has been around since 1997, earning a huge following thanks to their quirky, indie, tough-to-categorize sound. Traditional rock instruments like guitar, bass, keyboards and drums are augmented with theremin, bouzouki, trumpet, accordion, sousaphone and flute. They’ve released 11 albums along the way, including 2018’s excellent “This Night Falls Forever” and its catchy single, “Straight Shot.”

The best thing I’ve heard all week is the newest record from blues-rock guitar god Gary Clark Jr. The title track is an autobiographical tale of Clark – an African-American – being questioned by his neighbors for owning a mansion in the outskirts of Austin. It’s the angriest song of the Trump Era, chock full of Rage Against the Machine angst.

Gimme the ball I’m hot? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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