TELLURIDE – Ho, ho, ho, with this week’s big snow, the ski season is off to a great start, and the music scene is about to escalate exponentially as the holidays bring big names and bright rising stars to Telluride and across the Western Slope in the next few weeks.
Friday night, it’s the highly anticipated return of the incredible Keller Williams at the Telluride Conference Center. The show almost didn’t happen when Jeep pulled their 48 Straight series, but TMVOA kicked down and rescued the show to bring Williams to town.
“I think it was flat-out cancelled, and came back from the dead,” laughs Williams. “I’m excited that it’s happening, and am really looking forward to it,” he adds, noting that he loves to snowboard. “My whole family is out in Keystone right now, holing up in this condo so I can ride. Fortunately, I get to do a few shows around the state as well.”
Lucky for audiences, too, as Williams is known for his high-octane performances, and consistently wows with his off the hook one-man jam band finesse.
No stranger to Telluride, fans have seen him in various configurations over the years, including popping up with Yonder Mountain and others. “I played the Bluegrass Festival in 2003,” he recalls, and adds that he’s a big fan of the annual gathering. “I actually went to every festival from 1995 until 2003. You know, I’ve played the Swede Finn, the Quonset Hut and the Scott Art Factory with String Cheese. It’s always a great time to come to Telluride, and the festival is just amazing, especially for those of use who don’t live there.”
The multi-faceted Williams has been collaborating with some familiar names as of late, and his brand new Live CD/DVD release features recordings of several shows with his “dream band,” which finds Williams teaming up with Keith Moseley of String Cheese Incident on bass, Leftover Salmon drummer Jeff Sipe and Gibb Droll on guitar. The band stepped out as the WMDs at Bonnaroo in 2007, and now performs as Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe.
“The CD came out in September, and I really think that it captures the live stuff that went down on stage with those guys, they’re all just tremendous, and can play anything.”
For this show, Keller will perform solo, and fans may get a taste of some new material. “I’ve got a new studio record that I’ve been working on for a couple of months. Also, I’d love to do a kid’s record. It’s already written, so that’s on the horizon.”
Whatever he does, Williams is sure to amaze with his mind-blowing ability to sound like a full ensemble, utilizing live looping techniques along with his sensational guitar and synth work all combined with his versatile vocal style, which often includes the use of scatting and mouthflugel.
Whew, the dude can cook, and his songwriting is stupendous. “I’ll do two sets for this show, and I’m looking forward to seeing everybody in Telluride!”
Hop on the gondola Friday night, and don’t miss a single note from the incredible Keller Williams at the Conference Center.
Downtown, the scene is heating up, as venues jump into the swing for the season.
The Fly Me to the Moon Saloon is back in action, and after the Keller Williams show, head down to catch BluOrbit on Friday night. The soul-jazz trio features Mike Pale on guitar, and is highly danceable, funky fun.
On Saturday night, the funk continues at the Moon with the return of Elizabethan Report, who won over many fans at their last appearance here, including Moon manager Tom Fortier, who called them his “favorite band” of the summer.
Based in Provo, Utah, ER guitarist Spencer Petersen says the band is on fire.
“The summer touring was great. After two rounds around the west coast, east coast (including the NAMU festival), the Colorado line, and a slew of Utah shows, we were a little wasted! Colorado certainly left an impression on us. The shows were really fun and everyone was so nice. The guys at the Moon in particular are really great to work with. They have a good vision for what they want the music to accomplish in Telluride.”
Petersen adds that the young band has been promoting their first effort, Hola May. “It was recorded in a cabin in Park City, Utah over the course of a week. The ridiculous thing is that we'd recorded most of the songs in the past, but never could capture our live energy in those studios, so we created our own,” he says. “Both Aaron Hatch (bass) and myself (guitar) studied sound recording at BYU, so we co-engineered and produced it. All of the CD art was created by hand, so each CD is a unique copy, no two are the same. That took probably more time than we'd factored, but it looks really good and always feels good to have a one of a kind.” Petersen adds that the band is finishing up a full-length album to be released at the beginning of 2009. “It definitely will be showcasing more of a mature songwriting and engineering than the first. We recorded it in a historic landmark home in Provo so again it will have that raw energy that the first did, just a little more polished. We're all very confident in this one.” Elizabethan Report mixes it up, drawing on their diverse musical backgrounds and successfully blurring genres, from ska to hip-hop, rock, pop, funk, rap, and soul. The band also uses unusual instrumentation to create their unique sound, including smashing cans and plunking toy pianos, and the result is explosive, with their live performances taking audiences on a rollicking ride.
Petersen says that the band is ready to turn it on for Telluride fans. “We're really excited to come back. Since last time was such a positive experience, we'll be sure to pour as much energy as we can into it. Its funny how having the good vibe from management and community can make any show a good one. We just hope for an audience that wants to dance!”
No problem there, as the Moon will hopping Saturday night with Elizabethan Report. By the way, the band is hitting the Summit in Durango tonight, and look for them to be hovering in Telluride for a couple of days.
The Moon will continue to bop along this week, with an amazing treat in store next week. Zoogma is rolling up from Oxford, Miss. for a whirlwind “What’s This White Stuff” tour through Colorado, and drummer Matt Harris says it’s their first foray into the West. “We’ve played a lot in New Orleans and Nashville, but we’ve never done a tour like this. We’re stoked to get out there!”
Harris notes that the band is on the fast track, having formed just last year. “Me and Justin, one of the guitar players, were playing in a blues band, which is at the other end of the spectrum from what we do now. Anyway, we were getting kinda bored, and wanted to try more experimental stuff, and started messing around with electronic music and jazz fusion,” he explains. “We came across Jason, who played guitar but had started studying bass. We wanted to add some new elements, so Brock came on board and we had our current line-up by early this year.
“We started playing gigs around town, and the shows were packed. We were writing new songs like crazy, just to keep up and get the ball rolling! The next thing we knew we were doing shows with the Pnuma Trio.” In recent months, Zoogma has shared the stage with huge national acts, including STS9, Galactic, Perpetual Groove, and J Wail among others.
“It’s all happened so fast,” says Harris. “Hopefully we’ll be able to keep the energy going. This is what we all wanna do, so we’re in it for the long haul,” adding that the band is looking forward to their maiden voyage in Telluride. “The really fun part is traveling and meeting new people, and getting to play for everyone. We’ll be ready to rock!”
Running the musical gamut, Zoogma successfully fuses electronic, rock, jazz, trance, dub, and hip-hop into a beat-driven dance party. Don’t miss these rapidly ascending stars, Tuesday night at the Moon.
The stellar line-up at the Fly me to the Moon Saloon will continue next weekend, with a couple of hot bands on the docket. Make plans now to check out Kent Burnside & The New Generation on Dec. 19, with The Kinetix slated to appear on Dec. 20.
The Bubble Lounge will be jumping this weekend, too. Be sure to check out Ridgway rockers Sons of the Addicted with their Fractal World CD release party on Saturday night – sure to be a rager!
At the Sheridan Opera House, comedy will reign this coming week, but a closer look at the calendar reveals a wonderful gem, with the Telluride Rock & Roll Academy’s Winter Concert on Saturday evening. These kids can really rip, and often sell out their shows, so grab a ticket now.
Also, secure tickets soon for other hot holiday happenings later this month at the SOH, including performances by Henry Butler & Friends, Blood Sweat & Tears and The Spinners.
A couple of regional notes: Leftover Salmon fans may want to trek to Vail this weekend, as the band will play their final show of the year at Dobson Ice Arena on Friday night, with DJ Logic set to open. Also, if you’re still looking for a holiday bargain, here’s a sweet deal: The Desert Rocks Music Festival in Moab is offering discounted tickets to their 2009 festival, which are just 55 bucks from now until the end of the year.