Bookmark and Share

Holy Water and Whiskey: An Evening of American Folk Music

“Holy Water and Whiskey: An Evening of American Folk Music,” takes place Friday, Nov. 19, at the Ross Aragon Community Center.

Join us for an evening of sweet harmonies and laughter! This is an engaging concert featuring an exceptional acoustic trio from Albuquerque that specializes in traditional and contemporary American folk music, cowboy songs, gospel and bluegrass. It’s a group that enjoys having fun interacting with its audience, in the genuine belief that music and laughter are universally healing. Audiences consistently report that their harmonies, interesting selection of songs, stories and humor and are highly appealing aspects of their performances that keep them coming back for more. The group’s previous performance in Pagosa, two years ago, was a huge success.

A pre-concert social begins at 6 p.m. with free coffee. A beer and wine cash bar will be open throughout the evening. You are invited to bring a dessert to share for the pre-concert social and concert intermission, if you wish.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. $10 advance tickets are available at the Community Center and Higher Grounds Coffee Company. Tickets at the door are $12. Young people, 18 and under, will be admitted free. 

Holy Water and Whiskey consists of Maggie Washburne on bass, Scott Altenbach on guitar, and Bruce Washburne on guitar and banjo. Their music is characterized by a solid instrumental style with a special emphasis on beautiful vocal harmonies. All three members of Holy Water and Whiskey got their start performing during the ’60s. Since then, their musical tastes have evolved to include many acoustic instrument and vocal styles. With the strong vocal leads of Maggie and Scott, as a foundation for most of their selections, the group has their own special blend of close harmony singing. Maggie Washburne has a strikingly beautiful voice, with more than a trace of the superb vocal quality of another female singer, Joan Baez.

The group was formed in 2003 and since that time, they have played all over New Mexico, Colorado, California, Arizona and Iowa.

“We choose songs that resonate with our lives,” says Maggie Washburne. “We’ve had great times brightened by friends, family, laughter and love — and times when we were touched by suffering, separation and death. These things are the emotional basis for our music and harmonies. Our songs represent the positive resolution of all of these valued experiences. We believe that music — harmonies, especially — are healing.”

Bruce and Maggie Washburne met in a band in Hawaii in the mid-’70s, were married and have been playing music together ever since. When she’s not singing, Maggie Washburne works as a professor of biology at the University of New Mexico. Bruce Washburne is a social worker in charge of the VA programs assisting blind veterans in New Mexico and Southern Colorado.

In 2004, the Washburnes started singing with Scott Altenbach, a former miner and veteran of the coffee house circuit in Colorado. Altenbach — when he isn’t playing music — might be found dangling on a rope 300 feet down an old mine, looking for bats. A retired professor of biology, Altenbach is the foremost photographer of bats and he has written extensively about them. Currently, he consults with several state governments about preserving natural habitat. He is a renowned rattlesnake expert and once owned the largest personal collection of rattlesnakes in the world. Altenbach enjoys rebuilding old steam engines and mining machinery.

Besides music, all of these folks have another love in common: farming. The Washburnes own and operate a farm in Cuba, N.M. Altenbach lives, off the grid, on his farm in the south valley of Albuquerque.

Come enjoy “Holy Water and Whiskey: An Evening of American Folk Music” on November 19, for a concert that is sure to create a memorable ambience for Thanksgiving season in the Rockies.

The Ross Aragon Community Center is located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. For further information, call 264-4152.

This program is a collaboration between the Ross Aragon Community Center and Elation Center for the Arts. ECA is a local nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of traditional music and dance. The community center operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization through the Pagosa Springs Facilities Coalition (PSCFC), benefiting the community of Pagosa Springs by creating, coordinating and providing space for social, athletic, fine arts, performing arts, cultural, educational, business and faith-based activities. This program is a benefit fund-raiser in support of the Ross Aragon Community Center and Elation Center for the Arts.