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David Holub

I’m absolutely going to the iAm Music Festival; you should, too

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David Holub/DGO

Jesse Ogle (left) and Ashley Edwards of Hello, Dollface play at the Durango Autumn Arts Festival Saturday, Sept. 16.
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David Holub/DGO

Jesse Ogle (left) and Ashley Edwards of Hello, Dollface play at the Durango Autumn Arts Festival Saturday, Sept. 16.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be at the iAm Music Festival this weekend for many different reasons. Here are a few:

It’s not just music. Imaginario Circus, Mime Mania, a silent disco (you don’t even know what that means, do you? Look it up!), buskers, musician panels, and more. I mean, I know we all want to be at home watching the “Vietnam” miniseries on PBS, but c’mon!

Ashley Edwards and Jesse Ogle and the fewer-than-you-think crew at iAm Music don’t just put time and effort into putting on this festival. They put heart and love, as well as their livelihoods, on the line. They network intensely, apply for grants, and spread the gospel of connectivity, community, and collaboration. They work hard to bring in not just amazing musicians, but different voices and sounds, the socially-conscious, those also looking to spread goodwill and peace through music. Putting on this festival does not come without risk.

There are few things more touching to me than when people take risks for their art. I was moved last week at the opening of McCarson Leigh’s show “Maria, Maria,” a striking photography collection of nudes at Eno Wine Bar and Cocktail Lounge. Carson’s work was vulnerable, captivating, elegant, and beautiful (and is on display until Nov. 26). But the thing that sat with me in the days after was the courage on display, not only from Carson, for pursuing and relaying the work that has called her and that she has a gift for, but for Eno owner Alison Dance, who is proudly and unashamedly showing work some might consider too risqué for public eyes.

Any music festival I’ve been to, it has rarely been the headliner I walked away buzzed on. Many times, it wasn’t even the one or three bands I went to the festival to hear specifically. It was the undercards, the musicians and bands in the smaller tents on the side, or the band right before the headliner. Railroad Earth, the Sweetback Sisters, Crooked Still, and The Wiyos come to mind.

Looking back on a Dave Matthews Band concert in Houston, I couldn’t tell you one thing about the show, but I do remember a young guy on a small stage just inside the concert venue as DMB fans milled about waiting to burn one to “Proudest Monkey.” He pounded a piano and wailed blues songs like this was his one shot, like he’d never be onstage again.

Even if every band and every song is abhorrently displeasing to the ears, I know these music people are going to bring some seriously sensational style and fashion.

Ashamedly, I’m not the biggest seeker of music. I might download a song I heard on a movie or show, or a friend might recommend something. (It usually takes at least two unconnected friends to recommend the same band before I budge. Like last week: First Aid Kit. Oh my gawd, people. I lament the barren, lifeless years of living when I could have been listening to this band.) I tend to find a disparate collection of songs, or get into phases of the same bands and listen over and over. Sometimes a good jostling of bands and genres is exactly what I need.

I hate to say it, but often, the Durango music scene suffers from “cover syndrome,” where live music devolves into spirited but been-there-done-that (cliché intended) renditions of Jimmy Buffet and Johnny Cash. I get it: We’re a town heavy on tourists. And tourists like Bud Lite. And Starbucks. And sushi that tastes more like a Big Mac. And tourists like the music in restaurants relegated to background and for the songs to be ones they’ve heard on Top 40. The iAm Music Festival is a huge chance to hear not only original music, but multiple and mixed genres, all within a couple blocks.

Quite simply, I want to live in a place where stuff like the iAm Music Festival happens. It’s not just about entertainment and three nights of fun, or bringing in diverse sounds and musical/cultural points of view. It’s not just about supporting some of our town’s most creative and vibrant artists. It’s all of it.

DGO is a proud sponsor of the iAm Music Festival.