Mountain Hootchie-Kooch Takes Off

Always threatened to run off and join the circus? Good news… it’s within the realm of possibility with even more options and you can stay based in your mountain home paradise. You can still run away and throw your hat, and most of your clothes for that matter, into the world of burlesque. It doesn’t matter what gender, age or body type, you can take off in your new chosen career in this traditional enticingly provocative musical strip tease revue that’s making a huge comeback in both mountain towns and cities. If you’re unfamiliar with real burlesque and its variety of entertainment, it is in essence Gogol Bordello meets Mae West at Cirque du Soleil and the entire evening is sabotaged by the Keystone Cops as Nina Simone sings from a second story cathouse window while brightly colored feathers rain down from the skies.

Photo by Red Scarf Shots

Originally burlesque was a parody of the more ruling classes in England in the 1800s, making a travesty of popular songs, opera arias and other music that the audience would easily recognize. As it developed, the shows depended on comedy and a variety of acts including titillating strip teases that really didn’t show much but the audience thought they saw what they wanted. It gained its sleazy reputation decades after arriving in America and as the art of “Burley-Q” went into decline in the ’30s house managers depended more on female nudity to draw crowds. Alas for progress as porn became readily available and strip clubs and titty bars became the bastard child of the once grand offshoot of vaudeville. Not that there’s any shame in heading off with a fistful of singles to your favorite strip joint, but it’s refreshing to see authentic burlesque make a fervent return to whistling crowds.

And what better place than mountain towns where costuming up is a natural way of life and people are wondering what to do in their off season doldrums? In Durango, Colorado, a gaggle of talent unveiled itself at the initial call for auditions for a new troupe being put together. Bare Bones Burlesque and Salt Fire Circus director Tami Graham says, “Everybody’s Durango based. It’s amazing all this talent, an amazing oddity. It’s the perfect convergence of performance artists, musicians, jugglers, dancers and singers. We even have a strongman.” The show supports five musicians who play everything from a saw and Tibetan horn to traditional drums, bass, violin, accordion guitar, keys… but in an unusual genre. “It’s sort of gypsy meets circus meets its own style,” Tami has a difficult time putting their original music into a specific category. Current burlesque shows utilize live music, canned music and tracks and depending on the taste of the stripper and the act it can range from classical striptease songs and jazz to BB King and Marilyn Manson…. with accents marks for bumps and grinds, of course.

Having successfully survived its third winter the show is a combo of old time circus with burlesque and sells out quickly. “It’s because we all like to be entertained. The sex appeal of burlesque is enjoyed by everyone… men and women. These are very real talents. It’s a great adult circus and mountain towns have always supported great entertainment,” Tami has a sense of showmanship beyond the beloved bar follies of beer and wet tee shirts. The troupe plans a summer tour this year through Crested Butte, Aspen, Steamboat and lots of other mountain locales. “We all know people in all these towns because we’re mountain folks ourselves and these audiences make it fun since they’ll come to the show in costume at the drop of a top hat,” Tami says. For the past couple of years small mountain communities witnessed the unbridled kitschy antics and talent of the Yard Dogs Traveling Road Show, a San Francisco based vaudeville troupe, who performed to full houses and whose numerous fans mimicked the performers’ stage style attending their shows with painted faces, bustiers, bowler and top hats. Mountain men groomed their curled mustachioed guise for weeks prior while women browsed online Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogs.

Down in southern Colorado, Peaks and Pasties have been shakin’ up the shimmy since 2008 with traditional burlesque and boylesque shows. That’s right men, in boylesque you too can dress to undress. The delightful Lola Spitfire, director/creator of the troupe confirms there’s no age limit for performers in the genre, “The legends of burlesque are sixty and seventy year olds who still perform, take their clothes off and twirl fire tassels. The beauty of makeup and corsets is that burlesque is a celebration of all body types and all ages.” Finally, there’s hope and encouragement for even geezer girls… it’s all in the art of squeezing anticipation from the audience. “It’s a strip tease, you don’t see all the goods but you see enough,” the sultry Miss Spitfire says.

If you don’t know how to do it but have a burning desire to twirl fire tassels and learn the artistry of stripping there are schools across the Rockies in places you would never expect. Miss Spitfire is the headmistress of The Spitfire and Sparkle Academy of Burlesque in Pueblo and a producer of The Colorado Burlesque Festival, which takes place in Denver July 7 through 10, 2011. This gives you plenty of time to get your act together, find your corsets, boas, learn to juggle, redefine your id and pump up everyone’s libido. Burlesque is still alive and strutting it and we’re all invited.

Information on the Colorado Burlesque Festival online:

Find the official video of Bare Bones Burlesque and Salt Fire Circus on YouTube and friend them on Facebook. Get updates on Miss Lola Spitfire’s troupe and engage your burlesque career through

Life on the Mountain Music Road

Sharone Digitale

High-altitude sexification
The music world is full of stories about band members always getting laid — the allure of the fantasy has compelled many a young teen to pick up a guitar and spend hours strumming strings, only to later end up stroking his own instrument alone in his bedroom. But even musicians face sticky situations with the world of sexual magnetism; sometimes when they’re desperate for it — and feeling pretty confident –— they don’t get it, and other times, when they don’t want it, it comes on just a little too strong.

Sharone Digitale, an electro-pop, trip-hop group that dubs its sound as “baby makin’ music,” wasn’t so keen on the sex scene in its hometown of Nashville, Tenn.

Yes, I know, Life on the Mountain Music Road focuses on the strange and weird in high-elevation towns, but the (very loose) tie-in is, Sharone Digitale just rolled through Vail and Breckenridge on a national tour, and the artists were relieved to come home without any crazy stories for a change.

Writer Sharon Lang prides herself on penning music akin to rose petals strewn upon silky bedroom sheets that make listeners feel smooth, extravagant and sexy. But one night, her sound got a little too luscious for her to handle.

After a Nashville show, an apparent swinger couple told the band members that their music “made them so horny that they just wanted to smoke bowls and make out with us the whole time. Us, meaning, they wanted to basically take the whole band back to their place and ‘sexify’ us, as they so gracefully put it,” Lang said. “It was quite a hysterical moment in which we had to respectfully decline the offer, but it nonetheless added some interesting zing to the evening!”


If only that happened to Afro-Zep
Afro-Zep drummer Marshall Greenhouse never got so lucky — in fact, quite the opposite, especially when he first played in Breckenridge (at the dark underbelly on Main Street formerly known as Sherpa & Yeti’s) 10 years ago with his Chicago collective of musicians who mash Led Zep classics with the grooves of Afrobeat and Afropop.

Greenhouse claims he’s “not really that coordinated (although somehow drumming comes easy to me),” so when he decided to try snowboarding the day of the show, it “ended in obvious results,” namely, three front flips through slushy snow, resulting in a separated shoulder.

“That night, the band played a pretty awful acoustic set, while I sat at the bar on tons of Vicodin and took advantage of the discounted booze,” Greenhouse said.

Though he doesn’t remember much more about the trip, one painful image remains burned in his mind: Being Unable to take his clothes off himself. He said, “Luckily Chris’ girlfriend at the time had a bunch of really hot friends that came on tour with us.”

“I remember going in a hot tub later that night thinking I was going to get lucky with this girl I met in Frisco the night before, but when I asked her to pull my pants off to get in, she kinda stayed far away from me the rest of the night.”

And in the end, he says never learned his lesson. This time around in Breckenridge, he’s snowboarding in-between his Breck and Vail shows.

“I’m gonna beat the mountain this time,” he said.

No word on how he’s gonna get laid, but I bet Lang has some silky sounds he can slip into his Afro-Zep beats.

Next issue: Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman muses on ski towns and bums of the past — and pleas to get Mayor McCheese back, for god’s sake!

Kara Oke Dokie

“Everybody is a star …”  — Sly Stone

Photo by Dawne Belloise

If you’ve ever fronted a real live band with the screaming energy of a stack of Marshalls, a kick-ass drummer and a funkengruven bass, then singing karaoke is flat-out going to fall short of that experience. However, if you haven’t experienced the joy of having your eardrums vibrated out of your head trying to project over amplified instruments, then canned stardom might just move it for you. At the very least, if you actually know you can’t carry a tune and choose to watch safely from your barstool, karaoke participants can thrill, amuse and be that comedic relief you’ve long sought after a hard day on the slopes or the trail. They can also grind on your aesthetic sense like fingernails raking down a chalkboard.

You might have sworn you’d never be seen on stage mimicking Steve Perry, only to find yourself with mic in hand under the spotlight lured by ill-meaning friends and plied with brews crooning about small-town girls and believing. There are the willing wannabe glamour girls who are convinced that they may serendipitously get discovered as the next Lady Gaga by the celebrity tourist as they’re crooning out an off-key version of “Star Struck.”

Whatever the extent you find yourself involved in karaoke rituals, somewhere in a small bar in Japan, where the term and practice is rumored to have originated in the 1970s, the locals are still waiting for the band to show up. The literal translation of “Kara” means “missing,” and “Oke” means “band” or “orchestra.” If the band didn’t show up, they had a pre-recorded tape of their music and the singer would belt out the songs in front of an empty orchestra. At some point, a savvy singer must have figured out they could make far more money at a gig if they didn’t have to pay the band and karaoke took flight and stopped waiting for the band to roll out of bed.

Up here in the thin air, sometimes all it takes to get people up and chirping is the promise of free booze offered by the bars hosting the sing-along. Kyleena Graceffa, co-owner of the Lobar in Crested Butte, has witnessed the transformation in people once they hit the stage. “People say ‘No way! We’re not singing!’ or ‘I can’t get up and sing,’ but as soon as they have a couple of cocktails, I can’t get the mic away from them. Liquor makes people sing,” she notes. “It makes them stars and oh yeah, it’s like America Idol down here some nights.”

Free sake makes it easier for courage to blossom, as well as making it easier on the ears of listeners. During the summer season, when the Crested Butte Music Festival goes into full swing, Kyleena watches the vocal talent go up a few notches. “It’s really entertaining, because they’re really good, so, between the not-so-good, there’s the relief of the experts,” she says. “Those operatic voices aren’t singing Puccini and Mimi isn’t diving into her tailspin swan song … when the opera people are here they want to sing Def Leppard, not opera.”

It doesn’t seem to matter which side of the Divide you’re on, there’s a commonality of music that mountain folk want to warble. Anything by Journey and songs like “Sweet Caroline” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” — all the classic rock and cheesy love songs. “Depends on the age in the club and the demographics,” says veteran karaoke jockey (KJ) Sandman in Vail. “There’s not much difference between Aspen and Vail unless I get a Filipino group in that loves Elvis. I get a lot of rap in a younger bar, like the Hunter Bar in Aspen, but the Red Onion is probably my most eclectic, longest established show and the oldest bar in Aspen,” Sandman says of the 150-year-old place. “These are resort towns, so my winter crowds are far different than summer … a lot of winter tourism as opposed to summer when more locals show up because they’re not working as hard.”

And there are memorable nights like when the entire touring cast of the musical “Stomp” came in to bang on pizza boxes, chairs, garbage cans and anything that would raise a joyous noise to play rhythm to all the karaoke songs.

Attesting to karaoke’s popularity, Sandman is kept busy with his velvet voice and comic charm, enticing would-be stars to take the stage six nights a week in six different bars from Aspen to Vail, and he claims that, “It is never the same show twice. Like snowflakes, no two are alike. I get visitors and locals, and there’s a difference between each mountain town and venue.” And, he chortles victoriously, “I still get to play for a living — my band is never late, never out of tune, never shows up drunk, their equipment always works and they don’t fight with each other.”

While it’s obvious there’s a loyal following for the art of interpretive musical imitation, way up in the northern ski country of champagne snow, close to the Wyoming border, I asked my Steamboat Springs buddy if the town sported any karaoke bars, to which he snorted, “This is cowboy country. We shoot people who only pretend they can sing. It spooks the horses.”

Just as we suspected …

Life on the Mountain Music Road

Playing chicken
Split Lip Rayfield, a “thrash-grass trio,” quickly learned that taking a live bantam hen from their farm in Kansas to mountain-town gigs ranging from Vail and Steamboat Springs to Jackson Hole and Utah resorts wasn’t such a good idea after all.

They originally thought the chicken might drum up T-shirt and CD sales during their aggressive acoustic bluegrass gigs. It sounded logical: Take a hen from mom’s farm, place it on a grid with hundreds of numbers, install chicken wire around the contraption, and sell tickets so fans could bet on which number the chicken would shit. Call it “chicken-drop bingo,” and it’s just like Cow-pie Bingo or Hillbilly Bingo — though we’ve never heard of cows or hillbillies cooped up on a number grid, with people watching and waiting for them to dump a big one.

“We were looking for something fun for the crowd,” said banjo player Eric Mardif. “But some people have never seen a live chicken before, and they’d freak out and want to touch it … people just wanted to constantly fuck with the chicken, like a kid banging on the glass of a fish tank.”

Luckily for Henrietta the hen, the boys in the band felt quite protective of her, but their compassion wasn’t the only reason they returned her to mom’s farm.

After carting her around in their van for two weeks, they discovered chickens are messy: They smell up a van much worse than touring musicians do (which is saying a mouthful), and they kick their water and woodchips all over the place (unlike the musicians, who normally just spill their beer on the van floor).

“It was fun, but traveling with a live chicken sucks,” Mardif said.


A Blue Ribbon night
Bay-area rapper Lyrics Born is used to crazy incidents in mountain towns; his signature funk sound, which, with his new album leans toward a more ’80s vibe, has brought him coast to coast, with plenty of high-elevation stops in-between, including Breckenridge, Durango, Telluride, Steamboat Springs, Vail and Flagstaff just last month.

“I don’t know if it’s the cold or the people who come up to party — maybe it’s so cold everybody tries to get excited to stay warm,” he said of the peculiarities he regularly experiences during mountain shows.

But one particular gig in Montana really sticks with him. He was playing for a Pabst Blue Ribbon-sponsored event — a beer he thinks is the “worst in the world.” Apparently, the hip-hop fans weren’t too attached to their brews either. Lyrics Born’s concert turned into a scene out of “Animal House.”

“The crowd started chanting with the song I was playing, and suddenly everybody started throwing PBRs all over each other,” he said. “All I saw were these red, white and blue cans, and they only were one size: big and cheap,” he said. “It was so much fun because it was so wild.”

The only downside:
“But it was disgusting,” he said. “My shoes (forever) smelled like PBR.” Stale PBR, that is.

Jukebox Heroes

Jukebox Heroes

Story and photo by Dawne Belloise

“Ninety-nine percent of the world’s lovers are not with their first choice. That’s what makes the jukebox play.”

— Willie Nelson

Back in Black screams to a deafening reverberation across the wooden floor, pumping barflies and hopefuls into a rhythmic raising of glasses to mouths. They stand before the pulsing altar of flashing LEDs and whirling discs feeding alms to the jukebox.  Flipping through layers of CDs, they prime the bar atmosphere like fishermen chumming the waters.

Music is the great ambiance enhancer of romance. Next to the introductory  salutation of “Can I buy you a drink?” the most viable enticement to engage a conversation is, “I just put $2 in the jukebox … wanna come pick out some songs?” It’s been the standard in bars everywhere from the time oblivious couples glued together in a slow song grind bumped into machines and sent phonograph needles screeching across spinning vinyl.

The term “juke joint” originated from “jook,” the West African word for “wicked” or “disorderly” and was later applied to jukeboxes when pay-for-music phonographs became the rage. Jukeboxes were the perfect answer for supplying music to hard-to-reach mountain towns. Although certainly not a replacement, they’re cheaper than live music, don’t have to be bunked overnight, don’t steal the already limited population of local women and they don’t rack up a bar tab. It will continuously play slow songs or your favorite tune to the point of exasperation.

Phil Beckett, a guitarist who toured the Colorado mountain bars with several bands, remembers playing at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville, where, between sets, the jukebox cranked. “Hearing ‘Jessie’s Girl’ five billion times over and over with no other song in between is unforgettable,” Beckett mused. “No one wanted to say anything for fear of starting a fight. Huge fights would break out with all the miners and not enough girls around.”

Fights take on a spontaneous Western movie animation when choreographed with a little background music — hard rock or Johnny Cash are the ringside choice.

Back at the Silver Dollar Saloon, the local patrons are predominantly construction workers from the mine, who lean toward country music. The bartender will plunk down silly tunes like the “Three Little Fishies,” by the Three Stooges to break the tension between the younger thumpers, who like to play rap, and the rednecks nursing their twangy fix. But Chuck Hughes, guitarist for The Hillbilly Hellcats says, “The Silver Dollar has an internet-based jukebox with seemingly thousands of selections. We get rooms on the second floor when we play there and are awakened each morning at 10 a.m., when we hear, quite clearly, all the bass lines to the songs on the jukebox.”

Forget Joan Jett’s “I love rock ’n roll so put another dime in the jukebox, baby”  — you’ll fork out $2 a song for an internet-based box and have to take precious time from tending your barstool to search the wide web for far too much variety. The Silver Dollar Saloon tried to switch back to their more popular and cheaper CD jukebox, but the vendor wouldn’t give it back. The bartender admitted, “They still play it but not quite as often. Sometimes we sit here with no music at all. We have this junky old internet instead of the one we used to have with the good ol’ country tunes. The other jukebox, you could shoot $5 into it and would play over an hour. Before, with just a couple of bucks, we could hit the popular button and it would play the favorites forever. This internet one, you have to search for each and every song you want to play.”

One thing that transcends generations is some of the music that goes into the selections. The tunes the twenty- and thirty-somethings consistently punch are the same songs their moms rocked them to in-utero.

Duane Griffith of Wildwood Music stocks the jukebox at Kochevar’s, the oldest saloon in Crested Butte. “I get requests for certain things,” he says. “‘Sweet Home Alabama’ is still going to be the number-one requested song, and anything Allman Brothers can’t be replaced. There are some staples that just don’t go away. Even though all the bartenders are so sick of these songs, I can’t take them out because it’s being played a million times,” he says of the money-makers. “I just go in count the money, change the music and make sure it’s all working.”

He rotates out about ten percent of the tunes because, “If I take out those favorites, people get mad. Generations may change, but the song remains the same.”

We’re interested to hear any jukebox stories MG’s readers might have. What/where’s your favorite jukebox, and why? What makes for a good jukebox? Anything you can think of. Send your thoughts to

Mountain Mama

In the spirit of tenacious mountain folk living in the newcomer pioneer days of Telluride’s wild 1970s era, innovation was as essential as duct tape. Helen Forster was one of a handful whose vision and talent helped to create the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and shape the town’s embryonic radio station and community theatre. Today, she, along with her hubby Nick Forster, of Hot Rize fame, brings that can-do experience and attitude to eTown, an enviro- social awareness radio program broadcast to over one million listeners from downtown Boulder.

Helen arrived in the then-glitterati- less streets of Telluride in 1973, when the San Juan mountain hamlet’s steep-and-deep winter culture was becoming legendary and summers were still naptime revolving around July 4th. There wasn’t much in town, let alone in the way of arts, but there was a core group of dreamers who were naïve enough to ignore the complexities of creating the scene that quickly evolved into several of the T-ride’s more-famous cultural phenomena.

“You had to drive to Montrose just to get a spool of thread,” Helen mused about Telluride’s scant resources. “So you had to be conscientious, resourceful and creative when it came to supporting the arts.” The community radio station, KOTO-FM, had just cranked itself into the airwaves.

“There was a coalition that said ‘we need to make a radio station, so let’s make it happen.’ I came in at the tail end of the discussion and as one of the first deejays with my Down Valley Show,” Helen says of her eight-year stint of “soft rock and soft talk.”

In a collective moment to expand the breadth of the entertainment spectrum beyond beer, bars and local bands, Telluride’s thespians kicked it up a notch to form the SRO Theatre Troupe — Standing Room Only — which Helen co-founded, bringing her Minneapolis professional stage experience of musical and performance theater that started in her childhood and continued into adulthood. “It was like Second City. We wrote our own musical and comedy material. It was a raw slate, where you had an opportunity to come together to create original musical comedy theater.” To further broaden the town’s color palette, a more-formal theater company of upstart crows gathered under the L.A. director Paul Fagan to form the Plunge Players. Helen became one of its principal players as well. She also co-authored three children’s musicals with Martha Brady and worked on her skills as a professional vocalist.

But it’s probably the fact that she had a hand in creating one of Colorado’s best-loved annual party of festivarians that inspires raising a glass in admirable salute. Back in the mid-’70s, Helen was one of the original group who pioneered the nowcolossal Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The original concert stemmed innocuously from the town’s 4th of July celebration and evolved out of various people’s interest.

“You’re in your twenties, you get an idea, follow through and make things happen. You want to start a theater? Great, make that happen. Do a music fest? Great, let’s do it,” she says of the common ability for inventive mountain- dwellers to make things happen as though they could wish them into existence.

Looking to transition out of Telluride after 15 years, Helen considered moving to a large city in the real world; however, they all seemed daunting after living in a town with no stoplights. Boulder looked more promising as a community in which to continue a hardworking Bohemian life of theater, writing, performing and teaching. Although she had met Nick at one of the Bluegrass Festivals, they ran into each other in Boulder, where they eventually married in 1991, right after launching eTown.

As Nick’s Grammy-nominated bluegrass band, Hot Rize, was dissolving in 1990, he came up with the idea of eTown while on a State Department-sponsored overseas concert tour with a group that included Sam Bush, John Cowan and Laurie Lewis. He returned wondering how he could encourage people to make a difference in the world by working Helen Forster performs with Keb’ Mo’. Photo by Tim Reese. together, by using music as a focus to stimulate dialogue and awareness of social and environmental issues.

“We were both drawn to radio because it’s proactive,” Helen explains. “You have to use your brain and your mind. You don’t have an image in front of you. So Nick came back talking about creating a radio show, and I said to Nick, ‘let me help you.’”

Nick had also logged airtime as a member of Hot Rize, appearing on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” “Austin City Limits” and The Grand Old Opry broadcasts. But it was Helen’s festival work and KOTO radio production experience that greased the nuts, bolts and show into life. eTown now broadcasts over 280 stations. Based on variety radio shows of the past, eTown is taped in front of a live audience and features candid conversations about environmental and community, plus a lengthy list of amazing visiting musical artists — from Buddy Guy, Lyle Lovett and Michele Shocked to regional/local favorites Chris Daniels, Big Head Todd and String Cheese. Both Nick and Helen play on the show with the eTones, eTown’s house band, which features Front Range musicians Chris Engleman on bass, Christian Teele on drums, Ron Jolly on piano, with Nick on guitar and mandolin and Helen on vocals.

The duo’s latest project involves converting a funky former church in downtown Boulder for reuse as eTown Hall, with the goal of “making it the greenest building in Boulder, if we can,” smiles Nick. Photovoltaic panels, solar hot-water panels, revamping the electrical systems … the space is getting a complete overhaul in order to generate most of its power locally. Lectures, workshops, master classes, films, community gatherings, a recording and video studio and of course more intimate eTown shows with 200-250 attendees. The Forsters are hoping to have the building finished in time for the show’s twentieth anniversary next year.

“We’re independent media, and there are precious few independents these days,” Helen says. “We look at our role as being a senior voice in sending the message out every week … get informed, get inspired and get involved.”

eTown is a non-profit organization. It is offered in numerous podcast editions available for download from the program website

Life on the Mountain Music Road

Drunken encounters of the psychedelic kind

It’s no newsfl ash that musicians put up with their share of drunken patrons. But it gets a little trippy when hallucinogens are involved.

Springdale Quartet, a band out of Boulder, overlays its upbeat funk with progressive rock. It’s no surprise the outfi t attracts people seeking God via acid as it plays the likes of Breckenridge’s three20south, Steamboat’s Old Town Pub and Avon’s Agave. Organ grinder Chase Terzian coined the term “Junkblock” to describe the band’s jazz, funk, blues and rock infusion, inspired by musicians ranging from Medeski, Martin & Wood and Jimi Hendrix to The New Mastersounds and Phish.

A few months ago, the band played at Mishawaka Amphitheatre, north of Fort Collins, and a gentleman who initially looked as though he may or may not have been of the psychedelic persuasion decided to crash the stage.

“He started meditating while we played, which in itself is cool, but it got a little scary,” vocalist Jordan Roos said.

What began as an eyes-closed, facetoward- the-sky, held-hands-in-prayer vertical stance turned into a horizontal nightmare for the spiritual stage-seeker.

“As security managed to make their way through and get him, all hell broke loose,” Roos recalls. “The next thing I remember was this kid on the ground with security on top of him, with Good Gravy’s mandolin (a very delicate instrument) below them. There was a signifi – cant struggle, and the kid was eventually handcuffed (just with zip ties) and passed from on stage down to the crowd below. I am pretty sure the people below who were being handed the kid did not have a good hold, and the kid went face fi rst into the ground with his hands tied behind his back. We later found out the kid had eaten a ton of acid.”

Will work for hookah

It’s happening everywhere: Writers are giving their prose away for dimes on Amazon, actors are busing more tables and musicians are turning into hookah whores.

Brittany Shane realizes we’re in a recession, which might explain why she performed at the Juggling Gypsy in North Carolina during her summer tour in exchange for something that just went up in smoke. That’s right: She actually agreed to sing for one hookah and three fl avors. (After all, how could she resist such tantalizing fl avors as Circus Madness, Body Massage and Sex with a Hippie?)

Shane, who introduces herself as a singer-songwriter like she’s in an old Western — squinting her eyes from the bright sun and looking as though she’s about to jump back onto her dusty horse after a long day of fi ghting cowboy crime — began playing her catchy rock, pop and alt-country tunes throughout the nation last year. Her storytelling and strong vocals smack of Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow. Though she’s played the big cities, from Chicago to Austin and Memphis, she’s seen her fair share of that treasured form of barter our mountain towns are so famous for (you know, help a buddy move, get a bag of weed; trade a quartz crystal (or a couple Percocet) for a sandwich). But in her mountainous journeys for gigs in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho, to Whitefi sh, Mont.; Breckenridge and Carbondale, Colo.; and Santa Fe, N.M., she never encountered such a smokin’ deal.

The hookah bar owner, who happens to look like Ron Jeremy, was completely stoned, so the band members only saw him once before they took the stage.

“He went into his office, which was filled with smoke, and never came back out. It looked like he stepped into another dimension, or into the doorway that Kelly LeBrock stepped out of in the ’80s movie ‘Weird Science,’” Shane said.

After the set, the band gathered ’round for its free hookah to celebrate with a few flavored puffs.

“We couldn’t decide if this was cool and different or just plain dumb,” Shane said. “I just wanted the owner to open his door and walk out as Kelly LeBrock.”

Life on the Mountain Music Road continues in future issues with unbeckoned nudity, middle-aged hip-hop moms doling out unbidden sex advice, stupid mountain ascents and more.

Trout Streak Revival

Sometime just before the pilot turned our plane around over Wyoming and headed back to DIA and rang the death knell on any chance of my flight to Portland getting in within five hours of its advertised arrival time, Travis, the guy sitting next to me mentioned that he was in a band. Nice guy, but everyone’s in a band, right? Whatever. I managed to scrawl the name of the band, Trout Steak Revival, down in a notebook, and managed to hold onto the notebook until I got home, and I looked them up. Fayhee has always pressured me to put some music in this column, and I’ve never been confident enough in anything to recommend it to readers of a mountain magazine. What’s mountain music, anyway? Well, this is, and it is great. I downloaded the seven songs the band had on its web site, and rolled them through my iPod for three straight days. Trout Steak Revival was founded on a backpacking trip to Mystic Island Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness. It rained the entire trip, and the guys had one mandolin they passed from tent to tent, playing songs the whole time. They subsisted on trout caught by the band’s eventual guitar player, Kirk, and thusly, a Trout Steak Revival was born. Bluegrass, hippiegrass, newgrass, whatever. TSR calls the songs it plays “Bluegrass-inspired mountain music.” I call it music that makes me want to drive around Colorado with the windows down. The band’s first album, self-titled, comes out this month.