Top of the morning to you! Ah, yes, spring is in the air, and with St. Patrick's Day coming right up, it seems there's a musical pot o' gold around here, with a dazzling rainbow of incredible concerts, shows and special performances for lads and lassies of all tastes. Funk, jazz, hip-hop, swamp and bluegrass are all on the springtime palette, so don your best green and get out on the scene, starting this afternoon.
Mountain Village is the place to be when the TMVOA Playin' in the Plaza series fires up at Heritage Plaza with the sensational Subdudes on Thursday.
The legendary band reunited several years ago, much to the delight of longtime fans.
The Subdudes are once again turning up the gumbo-power, and have released a
new double CD set, Live at the Ram's Head, which captures the magic and raw energy of the band's live shows from a pair of performances in April of last year.
With their soulful, signature New Orleans’ sound, the band continues to reach to their roots for new inspiration, and gleefully mixes up material from their vast repertoire with fresh and lively grooves that'll make you move. Welcome back the marvelous Tommy Malone, John Magnie, Steve Amedee, Tim Cook and Jimmy Messa, and join the party with the Subdudes at the Playin' in the Plaza Series, starting at 3 p.m. in Mountain Village. Let the good times roll, baby!
Roll they will, as the weekend also sees the return of the super funky Grupo Fantasma.
A huge hit at last year's Telluride Jazz Celebration, the steam-engine that is Grupo has a big entourage, with ten touring members and a revolving roster of special guests, including Marco Parker. The band has wowed fans at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Bonnaroo, Montreal Jazz Festival and North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, toured with Prince, and picked up a Grammy nod for their fabulous Sonidos Gold last year. In other words, they’re on fire.
“We went to Europe twice, and went to Iraq to play for the troops,” explains bassist Greg Gonzalez. “We did a co-headling tour with Larry Harlow, which was really great. So we're staying busy. Right now we're working on a second album with our side project, Brownout. It's a funk outfit with some of the members of Grupo. The first album was well-received, and it's a hot little underground number. Hopefully the new on will be out by summer.”
Gonzalez adds that the Latin powerhouse has another big year on tap. “We plan to hit the studio with Grupo and do some singles, plus there's a new video we're pushing out. Next year will be our tenth anniversary, and we're hoping to do something spectacular.” That just seems to come with the territory, as the high-octane Grupo turns up the heat at their live performances. “Really, this band is maintained by our live shows. Most of the people who come out to shows over and over again do so because they have seen us live, more than hearing a tune off a recording that they've heard,” he muses, and adds that Grupo has stuck to their roots. “Musically we've done everything ourselves. This is a self-fulfilling project, we're playing the music we want to play. We're not putting stuff out there to appeal to some teenage demographic or for some stripper to do a booty grind to. We feel we're part of the continuum of music that's inspired us. And, as much as I like a good booty grind now and then, that's not necessarily the music that I feel like playing when I pick up my bass,” he laughs.
With their deep roots in Latin cumbia, salsa and other forms, the band kicks down the funk with a fervor, and takes audiences on an amazing non-stop ride, as Telluride jazz fans discovered last year.
Grupo Fantasma steams into town to perform at tonight's Operation F.E.A.S.T. gala at the Conference Center and then, it’s your lucky day, with the big Friday the 13th show at the Sheridan Opera House. “We love Telluride, and we're absolutely looking forward to it,” beams Gonzalez. By the way, you can also catch Grupo Fantasma at Ft. Lewis College in Durango Saturday night. Fantastico!
At the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon this weekend, look for Friday the 13th to jump, when The Motet Trio presents Juno What, the funky project which features members of the Motet including Dominic Lalli, Dave Watts and Joey Porter. The trio got together last year to forge their latest collaboration, a high-energy funk, bass and electronic fusion of danceable grooves in the soul jazz form. Dance the night away, Friday at the Moon.
Saturday night, the Pirates will come out to play, when The Turkey Creek Ramblers roll down for a show at the Moon. While fiddler Chuck Hugenberg has moved on to Boulder, the local pickers are still tearing it up. ”The line up will be myself, Ari, Mike and Mike,” relays singer songwriter, guitarist and banjo player extraordinaire, Adam Pace. He notes that TCR will be at the Bubble Lounge later this month, and look for a big pickin' reunion this summer.
“The next time the whole band will play a show together will be Sunday night of Bluegrass at the Moon,” says Pace, with a twinkle in his eye. Expect a wee bit of merry swashbuckling from TCR at the Pirate Party hoe-down, Saturday night at the Moon.
Next week at the Moon, St. Paddy's Day is on the way, and that means that spring fever will be in full swing, with Strix Vega beaming in for a show on Tuesday night. The band has been hitting it hard in support of their delicious debut album, Drunken Sky, and have just released their sophomore effort, Estranged Meadow. A groovy mix of folk, jazz, rock and smokin' jams, get a preview of Strix Vego live on KOTO next Tuesday afternoon, and prepare to be transported to Leprechaun land by Strix Vega at the Moon next week.
Of course, one of the hottest tickets around for St. Patrick's Day is the John “JoJo” Hermann concert at the Opera House.
The Sheridan Arts Foundation is bringing Hermann back to town in the dual-benefit for the SAF's Wild West Fest and the Jill Lipovsky Cancer Fund. “I did the benefit last year for the Wild West fund, and this year we'll also donate half of the proceeds to Jill, who's a good friend,” says Hermann, who adds that he's glad to kick down for a good cause. “The reason I get to do these benefits is through the generosity of John Abrams. I think I got to know Telluride through him, and of course I fell in love with the place. It ain't easy to get there, but it sure is worth it!”
He notes that one of his projects, the Mardis Gras band was recently in the neighborhood. “We toured through Colorado last month, and were amazed by how well the Mardis Gras music was received there. Crested Butte had a wonderful parade, and everybody in Colorado just went all out, like they do in New Orleans. It was off-the hook.”
Well-known as the keyboard player for the wildly popular Widespread Panic, Hermann also plays a mean guitar, and for this show will team up with Colorado's own Little Hercules, whom you may recall backed up Leo Nocentelli the last time he was in town. “Well, this year, its St. Paddy's Day, so we've gotta party and juice it up a little bit,” laughs Hermann. “They’re a great band, so everybody wear green, drink green beer, and come out and party with us!”
Indeed, Widespread Panic fans know that Hermann is a true treat, and the word is that Panic is about to jump back into action this spring. “We will be playing The House of Blues in Orlando in April. We're also going to play the Wharf at Orange Beach, Alabama, which is a gig I always enjoy,” he explains. Get the full skinny on the upcoming tour at widespreadpanic.com, and whatever you do, don’t miss JoJo Hermann with Little Hercules at the St. Paddy's Day Benefit Bash at the Sheridan Opera House on Tuesday. Magic is afoot!
Looking ahead, summer festivals are solidifying line-ups, including the announcement that The Desert Rocks Music Festival in Moab has added Billy Nershi with Head for the Hills to their roster. Early bird deals end March 16th. Get more at desertrocks.org.
Best wishes for a lucky Friday the 13th, and Happy St. Pat's!