There’s a meme circulating on Facebook claiming that Winston Churchill, when asked to cut arts funding to support the war effort, responded “Then what are we fighting for?” Though Churchill never actually said this, it’s a statement easy to identify with. The arts are important, and if you’re not part of the choir I’m preaching to, I hope that you can be swayed. If you walk down the street, read the papers like this one and engage in social interaction and healthy discourse. This is an artsy town that includes a bustling music community featuring a diverse collection of players, from solo performers to bands, EDM selectors and producers, to laid back and informal groups of pickers.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of local media, and surrounded by local musicians for close to 20 years. I continue to be wowed not only by the talent, but the generosity many of these musicians exhibit when it comes to playing for a cause apart from their own. I personally would like to thank all that have played and witnessed the music spectacle that is KDUR Cover Night, and note that the local musicians, and now local music schools, are pushing art into a world where the value of art is being questioned by a bunch of shallow rubes who are more than happy ingesting drivel, or worse, ingesting no art at all.
One of these schools, The Stillwater Foundation, will host The Southwest Music Festival Friday and Saturday (Feb. 24 and 25) at the Animas City Theatre. Stillwater, the school that is close to moving into new digs at 13th Street and Main Ave. next to Katzin Music, has roughly 220 students and continues to crank out players of all ages. Of those 220 students, 63 are adults, and the school has 11 different adult bands. It’s more than a facility for lessons; it’s a band generator, placing aspiring musicians with other aspiring musicians, teaching them how to not only play an instrument, but how to play that instrument with others, a skill that requires communication, collaboration, patience, and the ability to listen. We can always use more bands, and every human could use those skills.
The Southwest Music Festival is happening via the work of local musician Aaron Lombardo, a Stillwater substitute teacher who, when not playing with Durango Funk All-Stars or Sky Pilot, is organizing events like this one to give back to the town.
The shows will include D.J. Posh Josh, who will be playing sets between bands both nights. Many of these acts will also feature saxophone player Sam Kelly, the sax offender that plays with everyone.
Friday will feature:Eric Kiefer aka “Oblee,” a lo-fi, looping pedal-assisted musician playing electric folk and strange rock.
Jade Robbins, a 14-year-old vocal phenom.
Sky Pilot, the experimental jazz, new-wave, rock and improve outfit that’s about to drop a new record.
Elder Grown, a jam band exploring funk, reggae, rock and hip-hop. Elder Grown’s long-awaited next record should drop by summer.
Saturday will feature:Robby Overfield, a soulful, rhythm and blues crooner and guitar player.
Durango Funk All-Stars, the experimental, onstage with neither a net nor set-list homage to all things funk.
Niceness, conscious roots reggae and perhaps the hottest band out of Telluride since the legendary 8750.
The arts. Music. Local bands. All of this stuff is cool, so support it. Please.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected]