Last weekend’s soft opening of the revitalized Fly Me to the Moon Saloon under the management of newcomer Derrick Webb saw local favorites Funkdafari and Joint Point rally for the inaugural opening weekend. In many ways this was also the unspoken kickoff of the summer music season for Telluride. After three long weeks of near inactivity at the local haunts, things are in full swing. The Moon is continuing the momentum with two electric acts this week.
Before shooting down South to play the Durango Blues Train after-party, the West Water Outlaws will duck into the underground venue to rip tracks off their 2012 record Real Killer. Nostalgic in its post-grunge and alternative rock tone, this four-piece takes everything that was good about Nirvana on “Forgive Me” and throws in a noticeable Hammond B3 organ/Rhodes keyboard into the mix on “Medicine.” When they do slow it down, they border on progressive blues, but it’s the rock-out tracks like “Come On” that will make this band appealing, live.
New Orleans experimental jazz artists Cliff Hines isn’t your typical, well, anything. The sonically eccentric guitarist is bold in his use of elements of world music and even pop, but it’s the fusion of each tone with jazz timings and habits on individual tracks like “The Pacifier” that really drive home what makes this ensemble different. Teaming up with New Orleans legends James Singleton, Bill Summers and Kent Jordan on his most recent release Traveler, Hines will also bring the very lovely vocalist Sasha Masakowski out for the night in Telluride. Building soundscapes, operatic vocals, and unfamiliar instruments finding their place in the mix is the band’s forte. Expect speed jazz, art rock, and other weird combinations of sub-genres that don’t quite sound like anything you have heard before.
Over the Rhine at Wright Opera House in Ouray
The Wright Opera House also has some plans to come out of the gate with a top notch billing of Over the Rhine. Truly the sum of its parts, which is simply the couple Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, Over the Rhine is lounge jazz meets alt-country wrapped up in the songwriting that makes Americana great. That is where the elementary nature of this pairing ends. Named after the least favorable section of their hometown of Cincinnati, the duo is wholesome and heavenly, but also innovative in both their artistic and business practices. Maintaining independent status by releasing albums on their own label, Great Speckled Dog, via crowdfunding has allowed them to maintain complete artistic freedom. Thank god for that, because The Long Surrender is flawless, and only outdone by Drunkard’s Prayer. The riveting movement of “Firefly” off the latter could easily go toe-to-toe with any contagious female vocal anthem in popular music right now. Bergquist demonstrates impeccable range and a delivery that enables minimalist instrumentation. With a robust catalog that built to these masterpieces, the band will celebrate 20 years of creating with their must-see show in Ouray on Friday.
Hectic Hobo Hit Cruiser’s in Grand Junction
Cruiser’s Bar in Grand Junction has a knack for booking bands that you have never heard – unique ensembles that appear out of the ether of inexplicable anonymity but with some listening research end up being profound acts leaving even the most addicted audiophiles scratching their heads wondering how this one managed to stay off the radar. Salt Lake City’s Hectic Hobo is one of those bands. Sounding partly like some 1800s gypsy folk house band at times, the seven piece finds original tones in the use of ‘instruments’ like a trash table and saw.
Highly danceable on cuts like the thumping “Opium” from We Lost Our Legs in the War, We Just Can’t Remember Which War, the counterbalance comes from long-lost accordion folk narratives like “Alberta.” This is the type of drinking music that stems from a time when all there was to do was drink and play music. Comparison is not appropriate, but if you even remotely dig Gogol Bordello or DeVotchka, then missing this intimate show would be a crime against humanity.