Staring down the gun barrel of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic back in May, the Stillhouse Junkies weren’t sure how many, if any, live shows they would have this year. By that point, the Durango-based roots band had already canceled a tour of Great Britain and was hemorrhaging pretty much every other show it had planned.
As a stopgap, the band launched an experiment: The Rolling Junkies Revue Tour — a weekend-long affair in which you could sign up for one of ten slots, and the band would come and play a socially-distanced set at your house. If the weekend was successful, the Junkies said at the time, they would repeat it.
As of October, the band has played about 200 shows at people’s houses, said fiddle player Alissa Wolf. The number, coincidentally, is about the same as the number of gigs it had to cancel because of the coronavirus. The yard performances have taken the band as far as Pagosa Springs, Mancos, and across the state line toward Aztec. At one yard performance near 32nd Street in Durango, the band played atop a hill overlooking the Animas River, as the small audience watched from tubes and paddleboards floating in the water.
“We’ve just gotten to meet so many people in our community who I don’t think knew who we were; we didn’t know who they were — and now we have these connections with people that if we see them at shows we’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, we did a yard show for them.”
The band plans to continue the rolling revue through most of October, with the last date falling on the 25th. The Junkies play for donations, and the sign-up sheet can be found on their Facebook page.
But those aren’t the band’s only plans this month.
After participating in the first iAM Music Fest concert back in August at Buckley Park, the Stillhouse Junkies and local groove band J-Calvin will be closing out the year with one last public gig in the parking lot of Durango Craft Spirits (1120 Main Ave. No. 2) on Oct. 24. The event, “iAM Music Fest: Music at The Distillery,” is split into two times: an early show featuring J-Calvin from 4 to 6 p.m. and a late show featuring the Stillhouse Junkies from 7 to 9 p.m. Both shows are socially-distanced, with COVID protocols in place.
Because of oddities surrounding the liquor licenses of the festival and the distillery, attendees with general admission tickets ($15 to $25) have access only to the tasting room’s bar and spirits, while higher-price tickets ($25 to $30) have assigned tables, get a free wine-tasting, and have access to iAM Music’s bar. Tickets are available at iAMMusic.us.
Wolf said it is likely to be the last outdoor show in Durango until at least March 2021. (She reminds fans that one of the best ways to support your favorite bands during the offseason is to buy their music and merch.) The event represents a sort of homecoming for the Stillhouse Junkies, in that Stillhouse, in particular, was its original home venue.
“The idea is just to make a little bit more money for iAM — we’re considering this a little bit more of a fundraiser — get the bands a little bit more money and have kind of one last hurrah,” she said. “It might be kind of cold ... but historically, October has been our best selling iAM Fest date always. So people are gonna come out.”
And last, but not least, Stillhouse Junkies bassist Cody Tinnin is using his pandemic downtime to record a solo album.
The record, “Perennial,” will have 10 songs, including seven originals, featuring just Tinnin’s banjo and vocals. The project will be recorded live-to-tape in a single day on the mobile rig – featuring only vintage recording equipment from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s — of Jon Atkinson, founder of Bigtone Records of Bristol, Virginia.
“It’ll have that old-school analog warmth,” Tinnin said.
If that sounds like sweet, hipstery goodness to you, then set down your mason jar and hold onto your suspenders — the physical release of the album, which Tinnin is crowdfunding with a Kickstarter campaign, will be on cassette tapes. The campaign ends on Oct. 24.
“CDs, man, are pretty obsolete these days,” he said. “People at our shows buy CDs, I think, to give as gifts or to feel guilt-free while streaming our records. ... If anything, I want people to have a souvenir — something to hold in their hand and look at. And if you preorder it, you can just feel better about streaming it because I know that that’s how most people are going to listen to it anyway.”
Tinnin hopes to release the album, recorded on Oct. 20, sometime around Christmas.