2018 Meltdown Events
POWERHOUSE SCIENCE CENTER FREE CONCERT
Friday, 5 – 7 p.m., Powerhouse Science Center, 1333 Camino Del Rio, Along the Animas River
The warm-up for the Meltdown has become one of our festival’s more popular traditions. This free, two-hour concert is held at the Powerhouse Science Center on Friday afternoon, when the festival opens. Powerhouse Science Center is the Four Corner’s hands-on, interactive science center, providing innovative learning and unleashing human potential. Located on the banks of the Animas River in a historic coal-fired, steam-generated AC powerplant, Powerhouse Science Center presents a wide range of programs, exhibits, and activities for curious minds of all ages. They are committed to developing a science center that is welcoming and engaging to all communities in the Four Corners and beyond. They strive to be inclusive because we believe science and technology are for everyone.
Enjoy exceptional bluegrass music and help us kick off the festival for the weekend with Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble and TBD. Please use the crosswalk at 12th street and Camino Del Rio.
Saturday, Noon – 6 p.m., Elks Lodge, 9th St. & East 2nd Ave.
Since the early years of the Meltdown, the Band Showcase has provided a stage for bands that want to participate but for whatever reason aren’t ready or willing to play the ‘main stage’. ‘Bluegrass Band’ criteria are sometimes bent for the Band Showcase, but it never lacks for entertainment, and this year is no exception. This perpetual Meltdown favorite continues to be free to the public and will take place downstairs at the Durango Elks Lodge, from noon to 6 pm on Saturday.
Saturday, 7 – 10 p.m., Henry Strater Theater, 7th St. & Main Ave.
Join the spontaneous fun of the Meltdown’s Superjam. The event has become a festival tradition and no two are ever the same. Local, regional and national talents come together to collaborate and inspire on the stage of the Henry Strater Theatre. The bluegrass community is a small circle of incredibly talented musicians. It’s often amazing to witness how individuals from different bands are sometimes old friends, past band mates, or just like-minded individuals. It’s impromptu magic, so sit back and see what happens! Long-time Durango bluegrass connoisseur now residing in North Dakota, Annie Savage will be hosting the event and is sure to throw together some incredible collaborations for the stage.
OLD TIME BARN DANCE with SIX DOLLAR STRING BAND
Saturday, 7:30 – 10 p.m., Elks Lodge, 9th St. & East 2nd Ave.
Admission free with Saturday or Weekend Meltdown Wristband or $10 at the Door.
Do you know how to tell the difference between old time fiddle tunes? They have different titles.
In 2006, after recognizing the popularity of the old timey music scare with bands such as Reeltime Travelers and Sweet Sunny South, the Meltdown introduced the Old Time Barn Dance, at the Elks Lodge dance hall. Six Dollar String Band will host this year’s Old Time Barn Dance at the TBD, upstairs and inside at the corner of College Ave. and Main Ave. This has evolved into a “don’t miss” event. Nobody has more fun during the entire Meltdown weekend than the kids of all ages that pack the Durango Elks Lodge dance floor.
LATE NIGHT SHOW WITH WESTERN CENTURIES
Saturday, 8 – 10 p.m., Durango Art Center, 8th St. & East 2nd Ave.
The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown presents an evening with Western Centuries.
Admission free with Saturday or Weekend Meltdown Wristband or $10 at the Door)
Round up a country band and an early R&B group with three lead vocalists, weave in a hefty amount of vocal harmony and witty turns-of-phrase, and let ‘em rock out like The Band. The sound of roots music mavericks Western Centuries sits at these crossroads, and their debut album Weight of the World introduces a band as skillful in their musicianship as they are innovative in their writing. With upbeat, barroom dance numbers, lilting, introspective tunes of heartbreak, and everything in between, the album strikes an oft-strived-for but rarely achieved balance between genre-busting experimentation and thoughtful continuity.
Comprised of Seattle-based country musician Cahalen Morrison, jam band veteran Jim Miller (co-founder of Donna the Buffalo), R&B and bluegrass-by-way-of-punk rock songwriter Ethan Lawton, pedal steel player Rusty Blake, and bassist Dan Lowinger, Western Centuries are clearly a diverse bunch. The band is collaborative in nature, but they are – albeit subtly – helmed by Morrison. After years of performing in prominent roots duo Cahalen Morrison & Eli West (whose music made fans of Tim O’Brien, Jim Lauderdale, Dirk Powell, and BBC Radio’s Bob Harris along the way), Morrison formed and led the band Country Hammer, made up of members who have mostly crossed over into Western Centuries.
Produced by Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses) and recorded in his Nashville studio, Weight of the World features three different songwriters and lead vocalists (Morrison, Miller, and Lawton); the result is a sound that deftly defies neat categorization. Yet the album doesn’t come off as scattered. Instead, it feels like the natural confluence of the band’s wide-ranging influences, laced together by the interconnected histories of the musical styles at its foundation, and by its writers’ commitments to imaginative songwriting.
The progressive, almost psychedelic nature of the album’s lyrics infuses the 12-track record with a distinctly modern sensibility. Sure, there’s ample pedal steel and plenty of country telecaster twang, but Western Centuries elevate these neo-traditional two-stepping tunes into transcendental, rootsy rock ‘n roll doused think-pieces.
Upon first listen, Weight of the World provides all the familiar satisfaction of traditional country lyricism – rife with simultaneously hilarious and heart-breaking one-liners, tales of hitting the bottle and scraping bottom, and so on – but these songs yield new and deeper meaning with every listen. Each songwriter brings his own flair to Weight of the World, but there is a deeply literary approach to the songwriting woven throughout. The metaphors cleverly extend on, sometimes for an entire song as with Lawton’s “Off the Shelf” — a love song written for a bottle of booze.
While its lyrics are impressively layered with meaning, Weight of the World will appeal to just about any fan of roots music; the album certainly showcases the band’s great range and ability to blend influences ranging from early rhythm and blues, all the way to straight up country. But it’s also marked with a profound ingenuity – the type that feels instinctual rather than intentionally labored for, the kind that continues to flourish and snake into new realms as time wears on. This is just the beginning for Western Centuries, and it’s not likely their creative well is going to dry up any time soon.
Sunday morning, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Durango Art Center, 8th St. & East 2nd Ave.
You don’t want to miss the gospel set on Sunday morning. This set highlights the versatility of at least three of the bands performing at the festival. There’s no reason to fret about missing church during the Meltdown, the a cappella vocals bring out heavenly harmonies. God is definitely present on Sunday mornings!
TBD will host the morning congregation at the Durango Arts Center.
The Meltdown features many indoor and outdoor (weather permitting) locations for informal jamming. The management of the Strater and Rochester Hotels welcome musicians to gather and play for their own enjoyment as well as that of the hotel guests. Numerous downtown bars and restaurants also encourage musicians to play at their discretion, and may offer complementary food and drink. Spring afternoons in Durango are often very pleasant and jamming on the sidewalks and at outdoor cafes can be a pleasant way to make new friends and expose the general public to the joys of bluegrass. Look for the Meltdown Flyer in the windows of participating establishments.
The Strater Hotel lobby is open for jamming until midnight, late night jamming is open in the Pullman room in the basement of the Strater Hotel into the wee hours.
Friday & Saturday nights, see program guide for location
Part of the fun during the Meltdown is enjoying live bluegrass music while sampling great food and drink at some of Durango’s finest downtown bars and restaurants. See schedules on side bar for locations and times.