Tinsley Ellis, Navajo blues & Parrotheads

Tinsley Ellis, Navajo blues & Parrotheads

Tinsley Ellis brings world-class blues to the Henry Strater Theatre on Wed., May 24. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Chris Aaland - 05/18/2017

It’s rare that a world-class blues act lands in Durango, but Wednesday finds Tinsley Ellis and his Blues Is Dead tour at the Henry Strater Theatre in the final KSUT/Hank coproduction of the season (Sante? also sponsored). Doors open at 7 p.m. with music starting at 7:30. Ellis is a seasoned veteran who formed the Heartfixers in 1981 shortly after graduating from Emory University. He released his solo debut, “Georgia Blue,” on Chicago’s legendary Alligator

label in 1988 and hasn’t stopped since, recording and touring at a breakneck pace. Local residents may recall a show at the old Purple Haze (the space that’s now home to BREW Pub & Kitchen) back in the day, or caught his act numerous times at Telluride Blues & Brews. Critics point to Ellis’ guitar skills and soulful vocals. “He achieves pyrotechnics that rival Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton,” raved Rolling Stone magazine. “Raw and righteous, funky and strong,” wrote the Village Voice.

Born in Georgia in 1957, Ellis gravitated to the British Invasion acts of the late ’60s – bands like Cream, the Yardbirds, the Animals and the Rolling Stones. He later caught the blues bug when he was a teen-ager sitting in the front row of a B.B. King concert. King busted a string on his legendary axe, Lucille, changed mid-song and handed the broken string to Ellis (who still has it, by the way). A bluesman was born that night. Yet Ellis still kept his soulful, Southern rock, ’60s roots close by. Thus, the blues of the Grateful Dead always appealed to him ... particularly the band’s blues roots. Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Sleepy John Estes and other early blues-men certainly influenced Jerry & company, as did jug bands like Cannon’s Jug Stompers, Noah Lewis’ Jug Band and the Memphis Jug Band. Expect Ellis’ power trio to give a blues-rock workout to cuts like “Big Railroad Blues,” “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and “Viola Lee Blues.”

Blues also finds its way to the Community Concert Hall, where the Levi Platero Band wraps up the venue’s 2016-17 season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The group is a power trio from Tohajillee, N.M., within the Navajo Nation. Levi was just 12 years old when the band took the stage during a concert at The Gathering of Nations, an intertribal powwow where he enjoyed overwhelming response. From there, he graduated to the national stages, including a performance at Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural ball. The Texas blues and vintage rock of his contemporary guitar heroes echo throughout his music. One member of the music press noted that, “If Los Lonely Boys had little brothers, they would be the Plateros.” Opening the show are local guitarists Kirk James and Larry Carver.

KSUT also hosts its 24th annual Members’ Party & Silent Auction from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ska Brewing World Headquarters. The $25 admission gets you bottomless pints of Ska beers, food from Zia Taqueria, desserts from Baked, the chance to bid on hundreds of auction items and more. “We’ve moved the auction to the spring in order to capitalize on spring and summer activities like boating, biking, hiking and music festivals,” said KSUT Executive Director Tami Graham. Highlights include gear like an Alpacka raft, stand-up paddle board, an extremely rare limited edition Ska/Venture snowboard (just 10 produced each year, featuring Ska comic book artwork), and festival packages to Telluride Bluegrass, The Ride, Pagosa Folk’n Bluegrass, the Four Corners Folk Festival and many more. Artwork, gear, CD bundles and dining & concert packages are also up for bid. Many items go for half price what you’d pay on the racks, so save big bucks while supporting public radio in the Four Corners.

The Animas City Theatre presents an evening of electronic music featuring Skydyed, TNERTLE and meloD at 9 p.m. Friday. Skydyed is a Fort Collins-based trio that blends cuttingedge electronica with live instrumentation. TNERTLE is a Denver electro/funk/hip-hop group that occasionally works with meloD.

Bluegrass returns to the ACT on Tuesday when Old Salt Union shares the stage with Fellowship of the Strings. Old Salt Union blends the bluegrass of Bill Monroe, Del McCoury and Sam Bush with the jazz of Bill Evans and the eclectic arrangements of Danny Elfman to create one of the most original string band sounds out of St. Louis. The Fellowship boys tore the roof off of the Durango Arts Center at last month’s Meltdown.

Unleash your inner Jimmy Buffett geek at the ACT’s Parrothead Party at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Pull out that white man’s overbite and strut your stuff on the dance floor while slurping margaritas. There are drink specials for those who show up in costume, as well as a “How Low Can You Go?” limbo contest.

Stillwater Music hosts its 7th annual Party in the Park from noon ’til 5 p.m. Saturday in Buckley Park. More than 100 children ages 6-18 will perform live music on two stages throughout the day. The lineup features nine different Stillwater bands, five classical string ensembles from the Be FRANK Foundation and three musical theatre groups from the Durango Arts Center. Music ranges from pop, rock, funk and blues to classical, jazz and musical theatre classics. The family-oriented event also features 15 local organizations hosting booths that showcase their summer and year-round programs for kids, plus food vendors and hands-on activities for children.

If you still spin vinyl records, Southwest Sound hosts its fourth annual vinyl records swap meet from 9 a.m. ’til 3 p.m. Saturday at the VFW. Dozens of collectors will be on-hand with crates of vintage wax.

Elsewhere: Forest Beutel plays blues and Americana at tonight’s Ska-B-Q, which begins at 5 p.m.; The Clods bring their string band sound to the Balcony at 5 p.m. Friday; Pete Giuliani plays a solo, acoustic show at El Rancho from 5-8 p.m. Friday, then takes his full band to Trimble Hot Springs at 1 p.m. Sunday; the Robin Davis Duo is back at the Balcony Backstage at 5 p.m. Friday; and Larry Carver & Kirk James bring their full band to the Rusty Shovel Saloon at Vallecito Lake from 7-11 p.m. Saturday, while they go acoustic at the Balcony from 4-8 p.m. Sunday.

Tell your mama and your papa I’m a little schoolboy too? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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