MoM, iAM & the new Black

MoM, iAM & the new Black

FY5, the band formerly known as Finnders and Youngberg, headlines this Saturday's Meltdown on the Mesa.

Chris Aaland - 09/21/2017

It’s a great week for live music! Not one but two music festivals come to town this weekend. The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown hosts its third annual Meltdown on the Mesa on Saturday. Perched to the east of Durango on Ewing Mesa, the event features six local bands and one regional act. Gates open at noon, with music running from 1-9 p.m. This year, FY5 (formerly known as Finnders & Youngberg) headlines the whole shindig from 7:30- 9. Local bands on the bill include Six Dollar String Band, Lawn Chair Kings, the Robin Davis Duo, Sunny & the Whiskey Machine, Last Nickel and Lost Souls.

If you’ve never been to Meltdown on the Mesa, it’s a pretty cool affair. Artists perform under a big tent, with ample dancing areas on the outside. It’s kid-friendly, camping is encouraged and you can bring your own booze (no glass), soft drinks and picnics. The views of Durango and the La Platas are spectacular. 

FY5 is the perfect headliner for the venue. Billing themselves as “New American Roots,” their tunes – most of which are penned by award-winning songwriter Mike Finnders – can’t be easily pigeon-holed. Sure, the band is based in bluegrass, but is also influenced by old-time, honky-tonk, folk, blues and jazz. The husband-and-wife team of Aaron and Erin Youngberg are longtime friends of the Four Corners festival scene, first with Hit & Run Bluegrass and later with the original Finnders & Youngberg quartet. “AA,” as Aaron is known, plucks the banjo and switches out on pedal steel guitar; “E,” a onetime member of the all-female old-time group Uncle Earl, sings and keeps time on the bass. Finnders writes the songs, sings many of them, and picks guitar. When the band grew to a quintet around 2010, they added Rich Zimmerman on mandolin and Ryan Drickey on fiddle.

For three days from Thursday through Saturday, the third annual iAM Music Fest and Colorado Music Summit takes place at such venues as the Animas City Theatre, Henry Strater Theatre, Durango Arts Center, Rochester Secret Garden and elsewhere. The headliner is Euforquestra, which brings modern funk with vintage roots to the ACT at 11:30 p.m. Friday; Hello Dollface, which spearheads the event, performs at the ACT at 11:15 Saturday. Name a genre, and you’ll likely find it: electronic funk-hop, conscious reggae, bossa nova funk-folk, experimental warehouse folk, alt-country, bluegrass ... it’s all on the bill. Get tickets and find out more at iammusicfest.com.

Perhaps the week’s most interesting show is Black Violin, a duo that performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Community Concert Hall. Wilner “Wil-B” Baptiste (viola) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester (violin) make up Black Violin. The duo fuses classical, hip-hop, rock, bluegrass, R&B and pop to create a unique, genre-defying sound. In their live performances, Wil-B and Kev Marcus are joined by turntable wizard DJ SPS, plus percussion. The duo formed a decade ago, and has performed an average of 200 shows per year in 49 states and 36 countries as far away as Dubai, the Czech Republic and South Africa. They’ve also performed at President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball, entertained the troops in Iraq and performed at official NFL celebra-

tions for three Super Bowls. The New York Times wrote, “Black Violin works hard, but makes it all look like play ... Sometimes they play with the intense seriousness of orchestral soloists; at others they fiddle as if at a hoedown; at still others they strum the violin and viola like guitars.”

Get the Led Out, the American Led Zeppelin, returns to the Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Friday. From the bombastic and epic to the folksy and mystical, GTLO captures the essence of the recorded catalog of Led Zeppelin and brings it to the concert stage. While Zeppelin was a quartet, GTLO enlists six musicians (vocals, twin guitars, drums, bass and keyboards) to recreate the band’s intricate production.

Dead Floyd celebrates the music of the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd at the ACT at 9 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Sept. 21). The music of the two bands is mashed together into one high-energy, unpredictable show. Based in Fort Collins, they’ve taken their act on the road beyond the Front Range since forming in 2009.

On Tuesday, the Henhouse Prowlers bring new traditional bluegrass to the ACT at 9 p.m. Past winners of the RockyGrass Band Competition, the Chicago-based group is known for energetic shows that blend lightning-fast picking to sentimental ballads. 

Little known fact: the Prowlers used to have an insurgent side project called Sexfist. They had great T-shirts and stickers!

Country singer Ashley Wineland performs at the Wild Horse Saloon on Friday night during a stop on her “She’s Gone” national tour. Wineland has appeared on CMT, including her latest single and video, “She’s Gone,” which garnered more than 400,000 views on Facebook and inspired her new tour. Aside from her talent as a singer/songwriter, Wineland has drawn praise for her passion for charitable causes, including animal rescue groups, children’s hospitals and our country’s armed forces.

If you attend concerts or festivals in Durango and the surrounding area, you’ve appreciated the work of Lacey Black, who works with producer and engineer Scott “Scooter” Smith at Scooter’s Place in Durango. They’ll do the sound at festivals like the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, Four Corners Folk Festival and others. What you might not know about Lacey is she’s one of the most talented musicians in the region. The singer/songwriter/pianist has released a number of albums through the years, including “Timeless Travels,” “Ragtime Reflections,” “Unsent Letter” and the seven-song “All These Years” EP. The latter was recently refreshed after 10 years and is now available as a deluxe edition with three additional songs, plus some re-recording, remixing and more. She’ll discuss one of the album’s 10 songs each week on her blog at laceyblackmusic.com, where you can order the reissue and her other albums.

Elsewhere: Kirk James plays solo blues at the Balcony at 5 p.m. tonight and at the Seven Rivers Steakhouse at the Sky Ute Casino & Resort at 6 p.m. Saturday; the Pete Giuliani Band rocks the Balcony at 5:30 p.m. Friday; and the Balcony Backstage hosts Cinematica, Signs & Signals and Octopus Tree at 9 p.m. Saturday.

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

Top Shelf

Old-timey Americana, red leather pants and newgrass
Old-timey Americana, red leather pants and newgrass
By Chris Aaland
05/16/2019

I’ve been fortunate to be a DJ and music writer since the late 1980s, when I was a college DJ at KDUR right on through my current role as on-air host and development director at KSUT.

Junkies move on & musical Mt. Rushmore
Junkies move on & musical Mt. Rushmore
By Chris Aaland
05/09/2019

I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter. I must admit, most of it is to see what the Deplorables have to say about Mango Mussolini’s latest misadventures.

Goodbye to Greg, Pretty Lights spin-off & Derby Day
Goodbye to Greg, Pretty Lights spin-off & Derby Day
By Chris Aaland
05/02/2019

The guitar gently weeps in Durango, as local icon Greg Ryder died in a head-on collision last week. A regular performer at the Strater for decades, Ryder’s warm voice, friendly smile and  omnipresence in front of a microphone made him a favorite of thousands of fans and countless local musicians

Lucinda, Southwest Revival, and new hot chicks
Lucinda, Southwest Revival, and new hot chicks
By Chris Aaland
04/25/2019

The Shoulder Season is upon us. Skiers have disappeared, college students will be graduating or heading home to mom & dad this weekend, out-of-town cyclists are still a month away from arriving and tourists – let’s hope they come en masse this year – probably won’t show up in full force until June.

Read All in Top Shelf

Day in the Life

Painted Desert
Painted Desert
By Stephen Eginoire

At an abandoned gas station on the Navajo Nation in Black Mesa, Ariz., the building may be empty but the walls are full of life.

First blush
First blush
By Stephen Eginoire
05/09/2019

The lower Animas Valley all the way to New Mexico is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. 

Surf's Up!
Surf's Up!
By Stephen Eginoire
05/02/2019

As mid-elevation snow melts its way into the Animas River, how refreshing it is to see a few thousand CFS of turbid water making its journey south to New Mexico.

Crosses to bear
Crosses to bear
By Stephen Eginoire
04/25/2019

Hand-written notes, flowers, colorful inscriptions and various mementos stretch along a desert highway, hinting at sad stories and too-soon endings. 

Read All in Day on the Life