I like summertime in Durango. Theres plenty to do in the day in the form of social recreation, and even more to do at night, also in the form of social recreation.
Im in the fortunate position to live within walking distance of downtown, and when Im not hanging with my 6-year-old on south-side bike rides and lighting off bottle rockets, Ill go out. An early evening cruiser ride reveals a lot: jazz combos playing at places on East Second Avenue; bands or DJs playing upstairs and outside at venues; or other local musicians and bands playing in bars. The most beautiful part of the ride is when the music is advertised with no cover, also known as free entertainment.
Sure, the price comes in the form of a dinner tab and, drinks. But for you people who may not go out for any type of late-night music, this is an opportunity to support Durangos ever-growing music scene and get yourself out of the house. If youre a teetotaler and you can handle being around the bar scene (which is easy to do; just make sure you ignore the gabby drunks philosophizing about how to save the town, your business or the planet), going out cant be cheaper.
Durangos newest venue is The Balcony, in the location that was El Patio. Different menu, different staff, but still a great spot offering live local bands four to five nights a week and no cover. The cast of regulars playing there includes Russ Crossland on Thursdays, Terry Rickard on Sundays and Robin Davis on Wednesdays, and others such as Gigi Love, the Lawn Chair Kings, Seven and Aftergrass make spot appearances. Check out Hello Dollface tonight at The Balcony and see for yourself.
East Second Avenue during the week is for jazz, or perhaps, Jeff Solon appearances. He plays at Mutus and the Cyprus Cafe with his various jazz combos, duos and Tuesdays standing date with vocalist Alison Dance sitting in at the Cyprus.
Next stop, Main Avenue. Theres always free music in three different places inside the Strater Hotel: folkie guitar in The Office, piano-dinner music at the Mahogany Grill and summertime ragtime piano at the Diamond Belle. On the no-miss list is the legendary Johnny Maddox, as much of an institution here as he is in Hollywood and likely the only musician who plays in town who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Grammy. Hes in town through July 31 and will be back for three weeks beginning Aug. 30.
The Derailed Saloon usually is a cover-free zone, as is the blues-rock bar Purple Haze. There are exceptions to each when nationally touring acts are in town, as is the case Wednesday when Hamilton Loomis plays the Purple Haze for a $7.50 ticket ($10 day of show). Places such as the Starlight and Cosmopolitan also regularly offer music of the live and DJ variety, also almost exclusively without charging a cover.
Theres tons of free music out there. Go find it.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.