Desperados may seem an unlikely place to see modern rock and metal bands, but good things happen when you least expect them.
The bar in the Centennial Center (location of Office Depot) is off the beaten path of Durango’s downtown nightlife scene. However, it’s gaining a reputation as a place that from time to time will fill its stage with acts that may not necessarily zip through Durango on a regular basis.
I’ve hit up most of venues but never Desperados. But I have driven by the backside of it in the summer and heard the luring sounds of people having a good time. That tells me it has its clientele, perhaps a sturdy bunch of mesa-dwellers, deep south-siders and rural residents of the La Posta Road area that make up their group of “regulars.” I respect the effort.
Desperados hosts all sorts of music, from blues folkies to classic rock bands. This Sunday will feature a bill of bands, including Godhead’s Jason Charles Miller and his band, and rock band Scattered Hamlet. Now, I know nothing of Godhead, even though the group is from the area where I grew up, with Charles being raised in rural Virginia. It is an industrial metal band that has enjoyed some mainstream success, has released numerous records and has appeared on some popular compilations.
Miller is the latest loud rock guy to embrace a rootsier, country sound with his latest solo release, “Uncountry.” It seems to be a common realization among some rock musicians. You grow up finding your own way in a world of electric guitars and power chords, thinking the rural hillbilly music of your parents and grandparents is complete garbage. Then you hit a certain age, you hear the beauty in Hank Williams and realize that stuff is as hardcore as anything you heard when you were a kid.
“I grew up around country music” said Miller earlier this week from a venue in Iowa.
“When Godhead did an acoustic record and acoustic tour, it opened my mind back up to the music of my youth and inspired me to write acoustically. I’ve been doing numerous trips to Nashville to write. I got great songs out of it, but I also learned the craft.”
Learning the craft has enabled him to focus on the song, the pairing of lyrics to melody that may get blurred when writing for a rock band. “One thing I learned about songwriting is you write the song for the sake of the song. You don’t write for a specific purpose, you just have to write,” he said.
And write he does. Miller already is looking ahead to a follow up to “Uncountry,” which is due out this summer. What he describes as “his own personal brand of country” may not result in him taking the podium at one of the Country Music Awards ceremonies Nashville puts together such as the mass-produced product it put out, but he will embrace the tradition of what country is, or perhaps was.
“It’s the music of America,” Miller said. “There’s no punches being pulled. It’s the real stories, of what people are going through. There’s no ambiguity, there’s no hidden meaning. It just is what it is.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.