Music surges again at weekend Daddy Fest

Gone are the days when dads would get ties for Father’s Day. At least that’s the case in my household.

My daughter instead has opted for the handmade gift each year. Many of those gifts were made on the streets of Durango while I sat nearby drinking a beer and enjoying music on Main Avenue. She likes to shop at Daddy Fest, the annual street festival and major fundraiser for Durango Discovery Museum. The event will happen again Saturday on Main Avenue between 10th and 12th Streets.

Like typical street fair fare in Durango, Daddy Fest means face-painting and magic with Mysto, but because it’s a Discovery Museum event, there also are solar-powered and other scientific oddities from the museum for display and participation.

Music gets center-stage attention, as well, at Daddy Fest, with bands spanning the genre spectrum. In addition to Ignacio’s Grupo Ruitmo, there will be performances by bluegrassers The Flume Canyon Boys, The Jazz Church Band (a group of musicians who play each Sunday at Moe’s), Papa Otis and The Messers.

Papa Otis is Steve Mendias on drums and vocals, Jeff Moorehead on guitar and Guy Ewing on bass. The band formed a year ago, led by Mendias and Moorehead, former members of Lawn Chair Kings. They’re chasing more of an old vintage sound, á la ’60s garage rock mated with, say, the Flat Duo Jets.

The Messers is a Denver funk and soul band that formed out of a horn section two years ago. The group includes Kate Shoup on vocals, rapper and emcee Mo Hatcher, Stu Miller on guitar and vocals, Jody Calhoun on bass, Jay Ruybal on drums, Kurt Moorehead on keyboards, tenor sax and flute, Eric Schneider on trumpet, Rick Demey on alto and baritone saxophone, and Adam Bartczak on trombone.

Moorehead, Schneider and Demey have played together as a hired-gun horn section known as the “Mile High Horns” for years, serving as the horn section for Big Head Todd and the Monsters and other Denver bands. They came together when the members of the Mile High Horns were looking for yet another musical outlet, this time to play some original music. Many members of the Messers also play in Denver’s Pink Floyd tribute band Wish We Were Floyd. It was that band that recruited Moorehead, which eventually led to The Messers.

“We just decided we’ve got these great musicians, let’s form another band and try to do some original music together,” Moorehead said. “It’s worked out, we all love it.”

They call their sound, as well as their debut album that came out last year, “New American Soul.” It’s a great musical resurgence, with funk- and soul-inspired tunes complete with horn sections popping up everywhere.

“I think all of those styles cycle through,” Moorehead said. “In Denver, back in the early ’90s, there was a bunch of funk bands. Now we’re seeing a lot more, and generally those come with a horn section. I feel like there’s a resurgence going on.” Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.

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