A decade is a decent run for a band. It's plenty of time to accomplish a lot in music.
Maybe you hold court on a regular night at a prominent spot in your city. You tour a little bit and see the country, and make some records along the way. Enter some prestigious band contests and win a few. Musicians may come and go, but along the way, you continue to play with great people, even some of your heroes.
I can think of worse ways to kill 10 years.
The South Austin Jug Band has done all that and more since its beginnings playing a Sunday night gig at Momo's in Austin. After playing here in Durango at least once a year for the last five years (with many gigs at Storyville, and a few at the Abbey Theatre), the 2002 Telluride Bluegrass Festival band contest winners will perform one final time, Saturday at the Abbey Theatre at 9:30 p.m. This is an all-ages show.
For founding member and guitarist James Hyland, it's time to end the run.
"I think it's time to move on. We're all dabbling in a bunch of other things, and it's time to take a step back, take a breather and play some different music," said Hyland on the road to Denver last week.
In addition to Hyland, Brian Beken plays mandolin, fiddle and guitar; Dennis Ludiker plays mandolin, fiddle and guitar; Matt Mefford is on upright bass and Robb Kidd on drums.
When the band started almost 10 years ago, Hyland hadn't even looked ahead at what might be accomplished, but he has no regrets about what didn't happen.
"We didn't accomplish everything, but we were reaching for the stars. We got to see a lot of amazing things, visit a lot of beautiful places and meet a lot of great people. It's been the time of our lives," he said. "We hung onto our integrity, we never did anything we didn't want to do and we got to play with some of the world's greatest musicians."
Hyland attributes a lot of the band's success to winning Telluride's prestigious band competition that happens every year during the Bluegrass Festival.
"Winning Telluride was the catalyst that sent us out on the road," Hyland said. "Winning that made us valid. It helped us book the band across the country. When you say you won at the Telluride Festival, you get access."
Telluride, however, shouldn't take all the credit. The band owes a great debt to venues throughout Colorado.
Said Hyland: "I can't thank Colorado enough. They have been so instrumental in our success. I can't think of ending it any other way than with a tour through Colorado."
Liggettb@fortlewis.eduBryant Liggett is a freelance writer and program director of KDUR.