Outlaws, Renegades and the summer of '69

Outlaws, Renegades and the summer of '69

Travis Tritt and the Charlie Daniels Band bring their Outlaws & Renegades Tour to The Sky Ute Casino this Saturday.

Chris Aaland - 08/08/2019

Sometimes it takes a half-century to revisit an old love. For Gary Watkins, that was certainly the case. Back in 1969, a 19-year-old Watkins was looking for summer employment and saw a listing for musicians and actors for the melodrama at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton. A Denver kid, he applied and was hired at 75 cents per hour with room and board. This led him to transfer colleges to Fort Lewis and he’s never left. He spent two summers working for the Grand Imperial, both as an actor with the melodrama and as a solo musician in the bar.

Through the years, Watkins fronted the local rock band, Dog at Large, which was a regular at Farquahrts through the ‘80s and ‘90s. In fact, they still occasionally do the odd reunion concert.

As the 50th anniversary of the Silverton melodrama approached, he thought a unique way to celebrate the occasion would be to revise the melodrama. He assembled a cast, which includes actors, musicians and even an original cast member Delia Clark Bell, who still lives on the Western Slope. They’ll stage the event at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Grand Imperial in Silverton. The cast, officially billed as the Diamond Dust Players, present the 1969 50-year Melodrama Anniversary, has created a multi-media show that includes skits, vintage photos from the summer of ’69, video segments of what some of the other melodrama alumni have done since, and even a Dog at Large concert following the show. Seating is limited to just 75, and tickets are available at Magpies Newsstand Cafe? in Durango and the Grand Imperial front desk in Silverton.

Chevel Shepherd stole our hearts as the winner of The Voice’s Season 15 when she was just 16 years old. The pride of Farmington, Shepherd rolled through country hits by the likes of The Band Perry, George Strait, Dixie Chicks, The Judds, Kacey Musgraves and others. Kelly Clarkson was her coach, leading her to victory as a dark horse in the competition. Since winning, she’s performed “God Bless America” at the 103rd Indy 500. She’ll perform Friday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., with an opening set by the Six Dollar String Band at 7. Shepherd takes the stage at 8.

The Sky Ute Casino hosts an outdoor event Saturday that will be sure to get the dirt flying. The Charlie Daniels Band and Travis Tritt bring their Outlaws & Renegades Tour to Ignacio, with gates opening at 6 p.m. and music starting at 7:30. If you’ve followed along with country music (or southern rock –let’s face it, both Daniels and Tritt had their biggest successes when straying away from country into rock territory), then you surely recognize these two. Daniels, a part-time La Plata County resident, has recorded such iconic songs as “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Uneasy Rider,” “The South’s Gonna Do It (Again),” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and “Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye.” His music is as much rooted in the Allman Brothers as it is in Hank Williams. Tritt followed the same path, albeit 20 years after Daniels, with “Country Club,” “Put Some Drive in Your Country,” “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” and “T-R-O-U-B-L-E.”

The Telluride Jazz Festival has been at it since 1977, and this year’s festival rolls into Town Park Friday through Sunday. In recent years, calling it a “jazz festival” is somewhat of a misnomer. Jazz traces its roots to New Orleans, and, just as Crescent City jazz evolved from blues and ragtime to Dixieland, swing, second line and funk, so has Telluride Jazz. This year’s headliners include Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Lettuce, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Victor Wooten and Turkuaz. As often is the case with T-Ride festers, there’s music in Town Park, late-night shows at the Sheridan Opera House and other venues, and freebies in Elk’s Park. Plus, there’s a free late-night series called “Jazz After Dark” at the 

Liberty Bar (The McCarthy Trio and J-Calvin are among those playing) on Saturday night and a New Orleans 2nd line parade down Main Street on Sunday morning.

The seventh annual Escalante Days and Nights Music Festival takes place from 2 p.m. until midnight Saturday at the Dolores River Brewery. For just $10 at the door, you’ll get to see six different local acts, including The Lindells, Genuine Cowhide, Last Nickel, Carute Roma, Little Brother and The Crags. I’m particularly excited about Genuine Cowhide, an alt-country outfit with roots in the fertile Austin, Texas, scene. Their leader, guitarist and singer/songwriter Dale X. Allen, has fronted Cowhide for more than a decade and is a past member of Dave Insley’s Careless Smokers. A master of the Fender Telecaster, Allen is a tried-and-true honky tonk guitar hero. With Cowhide, he’s released five albums, including the brand-new “Red Dirt Colorado Girl,” which pays homage to women from his new home state. Past efforts like “Modern Sounds in Hillbilly and Western” and “Paint the Ponies” are personal favorites of mine, albums that I’ve been playing with regularity on KDUR and KSUT since their respective releases. I have no doubt that “Red Dirt” will become the same.

Innastate, which was voted as Albuquerque’s best reggae/ska band of 2019 in the Alibi’s Best of Burque reader’s poll, plays this week’s Ska-B-Q from 5-7 tonight (Thursday, Aug. 8). Innastate’s 2018 debut album, “Verde,” was nominated for three New Mexico Music Awards.

Durango PlayFest continues through Saturday at a variety of venues, including the Henry Strater Theatre, Animas City Theatre, Durango Arts Center and elsewhere. Plays include “Two Hander,” “The Ways of Necessity,” “A Shift in Gravity,” “My Antonia” and “Ceely.” There are also parties, playwright panels and talkback sessions. More information is available at Durango playfest.org.

Elsewhere: J-Calvin brings the funk to tonight’s free concert in Three Springs Plaza from 6-8 p.m.; Brap the Goat spins at the Starlight from 8 ‘til close tonight; Robby Overfield (6 p.m.) and DJ Hakan (9 p.m.) play the Starlight Friday; Sunny & the Whiskey Machine tip back toddies at Durango Craft Spirits at 7 p.m. Friday; the Durango Rec Center hosts its third free outdoor movie night at 8:30 p.m. Saturday with “Captain Marvel”; and Side Affex DJs at the Starlight for Saturday’s Ladies’ Night.

That summer seemed to last forever? Email me at chrisa@gobrain storm.net.

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