In Ouray and Montrose: Diamond W Wranglers
They’re famous all over the state of Kansas, from the Empire House and the Orpheum theaters in Wichita to the Fox in Hutchinson and the Crest in Great Bend. That’s where Ouray residents John and Virginia Ast found them, and next weekend, they are bringing these smooth-singing Western balladeers, dubbed the Diamond W Wranglers, to southwest Colorado.
Don’t think we’ve got the market cornered on cowboy country – or cowboy music – around these parts. As the author Robert Wright wrote in Dodge City: the Cowboy Capital, “What made Dodge City [and by extension, the state of Kansas] so famous was that it was the last of the towns of the last big frontier of the United States. When this was settled, the frontier was gone, it was the passing of the frontier with the passing of the buffalo, and the Indian question was settled forever.” The stock man came to Dodge because it was a great cattle market, Wright wrote, the cowboy “because it was his duty as well as his delight,” and the gambler and the bad man came because of the wealth and excitement, “for obscene birds will always gather around a carcass.”
The Wranglers’ music recalls those days of the early West – the shoot-outs, the open range, the big sky and the loyal steed. They sing ballads like “Streets of Laredo” and “Red River Valley” and the haunting “El Paso” on albums with titles like Outlaws and Lovers, Full Gallop and Deep in the Saddle (which won a Will Rogers Western Album of the Year award in 2008 by the Academy of Western Artists). They’ve taken their music to Carnegie Hall and the Great Wall of China. Next Friday, they’ll play the Montrose Pavilion and, in Ouray, at the Wright Opera House on Saturday evening and in a special dinner performance at the Historic Western Hotel on Sunday. I lived in New York City for nearly two decades, and cut my teeth on Elvis Costello and the Clash. But my father was a cowboy at heart, and I grew up listening to the smooth harmonies of Western music’s most famous group, co-founded in 1934 by Roy Rogers: the Sons of the Pioneers. They always sound like home.
Hear the Diamond W Wranglers at diamondwwranglers.com. For tickets, call 970/325-7255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Montrose: Tracking a Comet
Something ancient is heading our way at an almost-incomprehensible speed from the outer reaches of our solar system. It is millions of years old, “probably tens of millions,” says Bryan Cashion, an officer of the Black Canyon Astronomy club. “It” is Comet ISON, first discovered by two Russian astronomers a year ago and 585 million miles away; the comet is presently hurtling towards a rendezvous with our sun at a speed of up to 425,000 miles per hour. If ISON survives its perilous trip around the sun – our local star’s gravity can pull a comet in and destroy it – the sun’s energy will cause the ice in the comet to “sublime,” or change, into vapor and the dust in it become illuminated. The resulting glow will probably be the brightest comet anyone alive has ever seen, some say. We won’t know until closer to Thanksgiving whether ISON will survive to dazzle us all, or simply disappear. But if it makes its swing around the sun without breaking up, “From what we see right now,” a NASA web page says, “ISON is predicted to be a particularly bright and beautiful comet.” For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the comet will be visible all night long in late December and early January. Right now it is screaming through space, somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. The Black Canyon Astronomy Society’s next meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 24 in the Centennial Room (Old City Council Chambers) at 24 S. Uncompahgre. Local astronomers will provide an update on ISON, and the public is invited. Admission is free; start time is 7 p.m.
Sneffels Fiber Festival in Ouray
Textile festivals just keep on coming. Last week there was one in Silverton, and before that, one in Telluride (and before that, the Montrose quilt show). This weekend marks the debut of the Sneffels Fiber Festival, a two-day event at the Ouray County 4-H Event Center. The festival is sponsored by Weehawken Arts. It’s the brainchild of Susie Opdahl (she’s also behind Weehawken’s new Ouray County cookbook), who, returning from the Salida Fiber Festival last year with two friends, turned to them to say, “We can do this.”
And so they have. In addition to 23 vendors from Montana to New Mexico, there will be demonstrations in knitting, needle felting, turning sheep’s wool into yarn, processing wool, and harvesting Angola rabbit fur (not painful for the rabbit, Opdahl promises). There will also be workshops in peg loom weaving, crochet and double knitting. Many textile festivals are held earlier in the year; the Estes Park Wool Market, for example, one of the largest and best attended in the state, took place in early June, as did the Pagosa Fiber Festival. But these events “are wonderful this time of year,” Opdahl said. Many of the fur-bearing animals that make appearances at these get-togethers of the mild and the wooly – such as the alpacas that will be on hand at Sneffels this weekend – are shorn in the summer to help them stay cool. “But by now, they’ll have grown their coats back,” she observed. Better to see them in their full fluffy glory, and begin pondering mufflers and sweaters. The fiber festival takes place Friday from 12-7 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. For more info., visit facebook.com/sneffelsfiberfestival.