Holy Water and Whiskey comes to Pagosa

Elation Center for the Arts presents “Holy Water and Whiskey: An Evening of American Folk Music,” at 7 p.m. Sat., Jan. 24, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

Weaving a tapestry of smooth and mellifluous harmonies, three fine musicians from the farmlands of New Mexico snowshoe into Pagosa to bring us a concert of traditional and contemporary American folksongs, bluegrass, gospel and cowboy songs.

Holy Water and Whiskey is a fine singing group, whose acoustic instruments — guitars, banjo and acoustic bass guitar — provide a rich and textured backdrop for their considerable songmanship abilities.

Singing is a wonderful way to create warmth — and warmth is biologically adaptive when it comes to living in Pagosa in the winter. Speaking of biology, two of the group members are biology professors. But, they won’t be coming all the way from Albuquerque to deliver a biology lecture (although it might be interesting to see Scott Altenbach dangling on a rope, three hundred feet down a vertical shaft, exploring the inner life of an old mine). Altenbach, a renowned rattlesnake expert, has owned the world’s largest collection of rattlesnakes, including every type of rattlesnake in North and South America. After getting a few too many bites, he shifted and became a bat expert. He is now the foremost photographer of bats, having published his own book of bat photos as well as having them published in National Geographic. He has also written many articles about bats.

Maggie Washburne is the other biology professor of the group. She has a strikingly beautiful voice — with more than a trace of the superb vocal quality of another female singer, Joan Baez. As a biologist, her specialty is genomics, molecular biology and she does both teaching and research.

Her husband, Bruce, is a social worker, in charge of the VA programs that assists blind veterans in New Mexico and southern Colorado.

All three began performing professionally during The Great ‘60s American Folk Music Renaissance, earning money to put themselves through college. They are folks with a strong connection to nature. The Washburnes operate a farm in Cuba, N.M. Altenbach has been living on his off the grid, self-sufficient farm in the south valley of Albuquerque for 35 years.

“What are all these biology professors doing, running around singing folk songs?” you ask. Well, if warmth were biologically adaptive, then a biology professor would know that there is more than one way to create it. Singing creates it through increased respiration and circulation; it is also radiated through friendship and a feeling of community that singing can nurture, and Holy Water and Whiskey do this very well.

The group’s latest CD, “Spirits of All Kinds,” includes a cross section of the kinds of songs the group plays. You can hear samples of their songs on-line at http://cdbaby.com/cd/holywaterwhiskey2.

Join us at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse Saturday, Jan. 24 when Holy Water and Whiskey — a popular group from New Mexico — perform the songs that keep their audiences coming back for more, songs from the unique diversity of American folk music.

Advance tickets for “Holy Water and Whiskey: An Evening of American Folk Music,” are $12 and are available online, at elationarts.org, and at Higher Grounds Coffee Company. Tickets at the door are $15. Young people 18 and under will be admitted free of charge.

Please help us continue the tradition of sharing a dessert at the concert intermission social.

Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave. in the Vista subdivision of Pagosa Lakes. Take U.S. 160 to Vista Boulevard; turn north on Vista, then left on Port. The clubhouse is at the end of Port in the PLPOA complex.

Elation Center for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that provides cultural arts programs to the community of Pagosa Springs.

For more information, call 731-3117.

Photo Courtesy ECA
Elation Center for the Arts presents, “Holy Water and Whiskey: An Evening of American Folk Music,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.