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Haro in the Dark plays iAM MUSIC Fest

The story of local band Haro in the Dark’s formation plays out as a random meet of local musicians, a coming together of a collective of like-minded musicians eager to play.

The local band started to form when Jay Harootunian, who plays guitar and sings, and back-up vocalist Alexandra Leon, first came to Durango and started busking around town. That was a handful of years ago, and it was one random afternoon when they were playing on the street outside a local coffee shop when drummer Ted Moore, at the urging of local bass player Jesse Ogle from iAM MUSIC, checked them out.

Moore eyeballed the couple, or as the band jokes, “creepily stalked,” but did not immediately roll up to meet them. Yet he was smitten with what he heard, as Moore knew he was seeing a group of musicians he wanted to play with. He eventually tracked them down, and the band was born. In addition to Harootunian, Leon and Moore, Haro in the Dark are Ogle on bass, Brian Ahern on guitar and Guillaume Metz on keyboards.

Haro in the Dark is one of the bands playing at Saturday’s installment of iAM MUSIC Fest, playing alongside Alex Blocker and local rock-funk-jam band Elder Grown at the Studio & Outdoor Stage.

“I was playing in Buckley Park with J. Calvin, and Jesse (Ogle) had told me ‘hey, there’s this new couple in town, you should really hear them, they’re going to be playing outside on the street this afternoon,’” Moore said. “So, after our soundcheck I walked down there and they were playing outside; this being kind of a small town, I’m always looking for side projects that are really exciting, and I heard them and I thought, ‘holy cow, I want to be part of this.’”

If you go

WHAT: iAM Music Fest featuring Elder Grown, Alex Blocker, Haro in the Dark.

WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Studio & Outdoor Stage, 1027 Main Ave.

TICKETS: $20, available online at www.iammusicfest.us.

MORE INFORMATION: Vist www.iammusicfest.us.

Harootunian’s musical learning came from just picking around on a guitar when he was a kid. But that picking and plunking resulted in lessons as a teen, ultimately setting forth what is now a lifetime pursuit of guitar playing. He eventually ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, playing music while digging on a city where music is a dominant profession. But it was landing in Durango that got him to take music seriously, where he started to seriously pursue writing and recording songs that genre and sound-wise live under the Americana umbrella with a roots, funk vibe.

“I moved around so much in my life I’ve never been able to settle down with band and long as I’ve liked to. The last 10 years it’s been more purely for fun, and I’d say this is more of a project I’m taking more seriously,” Harootunian said. “I mean, everybody we’re playing with I not only respect as people, but as professional musicians, and I feel lucky to be in this band. So, I definitely want to put in my work and keep my end of the business up, too.”

Currently the band is recording a forthcoming record, bouncing between local studio Eagle Sound and the home studio of local engineer Jeff Jones. But they’re also digging on the growing number of accessible and capable musicians currently calling Durango home; the lineup of Haro In the Dark may be well-established, but there’s always room for more musicians in a town with a growing music scene.

“It’s so wonderful being in this town. For a secluded, smallish town, I’d say the quantity of quality music here is something I haven’t seen in a lot of places I’ve lived. It’s great,” Harootunian said.

“We keep getting these new people into town, and I think, ‘wow, where did these people come from?’” Moore added. “It’s a small town, but it’s not a small gene pool.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.