In Ouray County: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Trace Bundy
Two extremely accomplished guitarists – of very different musical eras and persuasions – visit Ouray County in the next week. First up is Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the folk-music legend, who plays a sold-out show this Sunday night in Ridgway. Elliott, a two-time Grammy winner (and five-time nominee), has shared the stage with Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, Jerry Garcia…the list of luminaries seems endless. He’s credited with influencing everyone from Pete Seeger to Bob Dylan when they played together in the early 60s (many said Dylan mimicked him, a charge Elliott, a good friend as well as a good guitar player, has always brushed off). His instrumental work perfectly suits his singing and storytelling; as Dan Miller notes in a fine profile of Elliott in the Spring 2013 issue of Flatpicking Guitar, “Jack’s guitar work tastefully and expertly suits the song. That is an ability that many guitar players today seem to ignore.” The peripatetic Elliott, who turned 82 just a couple of weeks ago, is in town between gigs in Park City and Denver to visit his friend John Billings, as well as play a concert. Billings first met Elliott at the Grammy Awards back in the 90s (Billings makes the Grammys, a subject for another day). “We got to hang out together a few days and had a wild time,” he recalled. At first, Billings was thinking of hosting “a simple house party” with Elliott as performing guest, then determined he needed more space. “So I checked in with these guys at the Sherbino and they were really open to having a concert,” he said. The small Sherbino sold out in two days.
The Wright Opera House, where acoustic guitar virtuoso Trace Bundy will play next Saturday, is small, too. It’s the right sort of venue for Bundy, who hails from Boulder, and really needs to be seen as well as heard. “It’s one thing to listen to Trace Bundy on record, but it’s a whole other experience to actually see the guitarist – one of the finest acoustic fingerpickers around these parts – do his guitar gymnastics firsthand, from two-handed finger tapping and percussive slapping to looping phrasing and using multiple capos,” Jon Salomon explained last year in Westword. In contrast to Elliott and his stories, Bundy is just one man and his acoustic guitar – but his playing is so deft, he makes that guitar seem seem like several instruments (his fans in Boulder call him the Acoustic Ninja). If Ramblin’ Jack represents the past, and the present, of a certain type of guitar playing, is Bundy the future? While Jack Elliott rambles, and travels, Bundy, who has used his iPhone as an instrument, has become an international sensation on YouTube, with 21 million views of his videos. He has “dragged the staid world of folk and classical music into the 21st Century,” Westword said. There’s a reason why Bundy has racked up millions of views on YouTube, the paper pointed out: people want to see Bundy for themselves. Next Saturday night, you can do that in person. Meanwhile, go here: tinyurl.com/ltyjpjm and here: tinyurl.com/kv28gut. The concert starts at 8 p.m.
Into the Void in Montrose
You know the spooky time of year is getting closer when the number of cemetery walks starts to ramp up around the region, tickets for the Horror Show are available, and you learn the Telluride Historical Museum is devoting an entire month to the subject of Haunted History. The Spiritual Awareness Center in Montrose isn’t waiting. On Friday, it plans a Ghost Walk in Sunset Mesa Cemetery beginning at 7:30 p.m. The walk is an opportunity to try to photograph ghosts and orbs, and will be “done in a very respectful way and without provocation.” Participants should bring along either a digital camera or a cell phone with a camera, a light jacket, some water and a flashlight. Register online at spiritaware.org or by calling 970/252-0908.
If you find exploration of dark phenomena – the void, so to speak – to be more compelling when it is backed by science, the Black Canyon Astronomical Society is meeting next Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m., and the public is welcome to attend. The meeting will be held in the Old City Council Chambers in Montrose, where Phil Kelton, former superintendent at the world-renowned McDonald Observatory in Texas (home to the fifth-largest telescope in the world) will give a talk entitled McDonald Observatory – a Journey Through Time. Which, of course, is exactly what you do when you look out into space – you also look back in time. Nothing can penetrate the void the way a telescope can.
Fill the Void in Telluride
A void of a very different sort is at the heart of the debut film by Rama Burshtein which screens tonight at the Palm. Fill the Void tells the story of a young Israeli woman, Shira (Hadas Yaron) who is engaged to one man, then suddenly thrust into a tragedy – and an agonizing dilemma – when her beloved older sister suddenly dies in childbirth, and marrying her sister’s husband (and bringing up her child) begins to loom as a possibility. Shira “is modest and sensible, forthright with her opinions and discreet about expressing emotion, but the way Ms. Yaron composes her features” – and the way she is lighted by the director and the cinematographer – “seems to offer direct access to her soul,” wrote New York Times critic A.O. Scott. “The deeper drama of Fill the Void has to do with her self-knowledge and it is this – the sense we have of witnessing a young person figuring herself out in the most challenging circumstances – that makes the film both accessible and thrilling. It is completely unexpected, and entirely believable.” Show time is 6 p.m.