Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jalan Crossland gets big crowd for rare Cheyenne concert stop

As he wrapped up last night's second set at the Historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Jalan Crossland invited the audience to his hometown August hootenany -- the NoWoodstock Festival in Ten Sleep.

"Did he say NoWoodstock?" my wife Chris asked.

I nodded. And tried to explain. NoWoodstock is not exactly the opposite of the legendary gathering. It is held outdoors, and sometimes it rains, but it's not likely to draw 500,000 retro-hippies for three days of peace and love and cause a blockbuster film and album (remember those?) to be made.

NoWoodstock is a bit like Jalan. A little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit storytelling, with equal parts singing and picking the guitar and banjo. Throw in some food and drink, mosquitoes and sunburn, and there you have NoWoodstock.

But back to last night. Jalan's solo concert was arranged by the Cheyenne Guitar Society, its third event of the season. The series had a number of sponsors, including the Wyoming Arts Council and the LCCC Foundation. The performance was delayed by 20 minutes so that hotel staff could bring in more chairs. By the time Jalan took the stage, the room was packed and very warm. There was a long line at the ballroom bar.

Jalan writes and plays his own songs. Most come with a splash (sometimes a raging torrent) of humor. So when he said that this was the first time he'd played in Cheyenne outside of a couple of weddings, nobody knew if he was kidding. I didn't get to ask him, but it seems unlikely. In the past couple months, he's been to New Orleans and the annual songwriters' festival in Key West. His next stop is the Upper Meramac Flatpicking Guitar Camp & Americana Music Festival in Steelville, Mo. Then come stops in Nebraska and Iowa before a big concert June 1 at the WYO Theater in Sheridan. He arrives back in Ten Sleep August 12 for NoWoodstock. Get the full concert schedule at

At the Plains, Jalan played some of his favorites, many of them shouted out from the audience. They included "Don't Taze Me Bro," "Trailer Park Fire," "The Little Girl & the Deadly Snake," "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance, All-Night Chicken Trucker," "Trailer Park Fire" came with a whiff of smoke blown to Cheyenne by the wildland fires burning in northern Colorado. Jalan played some tunes from his new CD, "Portrait of a Fish," including a moving rendition of Gordon Lightfoot's "Don Quixote." He alternated between banjo and guitar. Some of the up-tempo numbers caused some impromptu dancing to break out at the front of the room.

The evening ended too soon. Judging by the crowd at the merchandise table, Jalan was selling a lot of T-shirts and signing scads of CDs and posters. Weddings are nice and all, but it seems odd that Jalan's public appearances in Cheyenne are so rare. But it is a long way from the wilds of Washakie County and NoWoodstock. That's not Jalan's next concert stop, but it may be ours.
--Michael Shay
Cross-posted from Hummingbirdminds blog

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