The musical season is upon us, and a little thing like a Fourth of July celebration is not about to stand in the way.
Au contraire: Every Thursday night in July for a dozen years, the Ridgway Concert Series has hosted musicians in Hartwell Park, and tonight (Thursday) is no exception. Get your firework fix later on, in downtown Ouray, or simply tuck in downtown Ridgway for an incendiary performance from headliner Aaron Lee Tasjan.
He arrives in Ridgway — as many residents and visitors do — with a world of experience, having played guitar with British rockers Alberta Cross and prototypical punk-rock outfit The New York Dolls. Prancing and preening, glam with a dangerous edge (reader: I’ve seen them play Alphabet City), the Dolls “created punk rock before there was a term for it,” Stephen Thomas Erlewine has written. Tasjan may have have been influenced by vocalist David Johansen’s pouty swagger — he even looks a little like him — but his music “blends blues, classic rock, country-rock and a ’70s influence that recalls singer/songwriters like Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman,” according to allmusic.com.
In short, Tasjan’s music seems very much like a distillation of Ridgway itself: urbane, with country soul. Glam-rock, Brit pop and country-rock and blues are all present in Tasjan’s latest release, the quirkily titled “Karma for Cheap,” which he recorded last year after relocating from New York City to Nashville.
Folk-rock “tour de force” Tiffany Christopher, who has supported Brandi Carlile, the Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco, among others, will open for Tasjan. The music starts around 6 p.m.
The following evening brings the second of four musical Friday evenings to Montrose, with young Red Dirt Country rocker Mason Lively on the green grass of the Black Canyon Golf Course. While Aaron Lee Tasjan, who grew up in Ohio, has said the Beatles inspired him to first pick up a guitar, Lively has cited Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Promoter Dave Bowman, also the Mayor of the City of Montrose, has said he believes in featuring local talent at each Summer Music Series concert, and accordingly, this week’s opener is hometown band D&G Railroad. There’s more open-air concert music on tap for Montrose next month, when the Summer Music Series returns and the Fifth Annual Func Fest at Water Sports Park opens for not one but two days of entertainment. Just as at Hartwell Park and the golf course, admission at WSP is free. Func Fest is Aug. 9-10 from 4-10 p.m. Over the course of two days, six bands will perform, including Dave’s Fault, Living On a Bad Name, Ulterior Motive, Neon Sky, Donny Morales & the Big Band, and Paizley Park.
The headliners are Bad Name and Paizley. If you surmised that these are tribute bands, you’d be right. Bad Name is a Bon Jovi cover band (the actual Bon Jovi is currently on a “This House is Not For Sale 2019 Tour” in Europe and South America).
Paizley Park honors the late musical artist Prince, who passed away in 2016. Just last month, “Originals,” an album of 15 demos that Prince offered to other musicians but except for “Nothing Compares 2 U” (indelibly sung by Sinead O’Connor), did not record himself, came out on the label TIDAL. The New York Times dubbed it “a rough draft of pop genius.” Prince reportedly wrote thousands of songs; many are still unreleased.
His legacy continues to unfold.
“He wasn’t a guy who would pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, don’t go to LA, I’m going to miss you,’” his former lover Susannah Melvoin told the Times. “He would write ‘Nothing Compares 2 U.’”