Ski Jam

Performers come together to play at weeklong music festival

Gov't Mule started as a side project in the early 1990s by members of the Allman Brothers Band but was so well received that it became a full-time national touring act. The band has become so popular that concert organizer John Dickson doubts Steamboat Springs will be lucky enough to see it on stage here again.

Dickson signed the band to his weeklong Ski Jam music festival months ago, before their latest album, "The Deep End, Vol. 1" was released and propelled them into a new round of popularity.

Gov't Mule will play Tuesday in a 14,000-square-foot festival tent erected at the base of the ski area, as the headliner of the four-day Ski Jam.

Many people are getting their tickets to see Gov't Mule, Keller Williams, Trish Murphy, the South Austin Jug Band, Seth James, Stroller and Larry as part of a weeklong ski package.

For the rest of us, there are a limited number of tickets available for Gov't Mule and Keller Williams to be purchased in advance, and a chance that there will be $10 tickets available at the door for the other concerts, Dickson said.

Dickson chose the lineup from bands that may not be popular nationwide but have strong followings in their home region -- mostly Austin, Texas-based bands.

"(Dickson Productions') talent lies in putting music and place together," Dickson said. The Ski Jam, featuring bands marketed for the so-called jam band audience, follows on the heels of MusicFest. MusicFest brings Texas and Americana music to Steamboat. Unless you won tickets on the radio, you didn't get in to see the week of concerts by Texas-based country artists including Pat Green. Like Ski Jam, MusicFest was offered as part of a ski vacation package.

This is the first year for Ski Jam, and the festival package sold out, Dickson said. He plans to make it an annual event.

Two bands worth checking out are the South Austin Jug Band and Larry, both from Austin.

"Larry has a nice vibe, and I thought they fit the image of what we're trying to do," Dickson said.

Larry will play three "After the Hill Chill" shows at Bear River Grill. South Austin Jug Band will play a show at Bear River and another show a Levelz (both free to people with a festival wristband).


Larry

Larry started out as a group of good friends playing Widespread Panic covers in a dirty garage. Over the years, they developed their own style, a set of original tunes and a following in the Live Music Capital of the United States -- Austin.

Guitar player Chris Forshage also makes guitars and basses for a living. Bass player Bob Amonett plays one of his creations, a half-fretted, half-fretless six-string, and Forshage plays a seven-string guitar of his own design.

"Chris has been in Austin for a while," said washboard player and vocalist Jeff Bradberry. "People always take their guitars to him when they need work. No matter how broken it is, he always takes the guitar into his hands and plays it first. He treats every guitar with such tender, loving care."

Forshage's love of the instrument can be heard in Larry's sound.

"We made a pact in the beginning," Bradberry said. "We'd never take ourselves too seriously, but we take the music seriously."

But Bradberry likes to talk less about the music and more about the people who made it happen.

Bradberry paints a picture of Austin's music scene as a place where musicians step off the bus every day. Many of them struggle and go back home, but some find a perfect fit in a waiting band.

"I think one of the things I love about Austin is the love the musicians have for each other," Bradberry said. "The open jams are just crazy. You don't know who is going to walk in, but the opportunity is always there. A lot of musicians, we all want to have something good happen, so we always try to help the other people out the way people helped us out."

In six years of regular gigs on Sixth Street, Larry has become an integral part of the Austin music scene and the music support network. And this won't be the first time in Steamboat. The band has played in Murphy's Exchange and the Wolf Den.

Bradberry wants two things from his trip to Steamboat and Ski Jam: Some of that Mama's Old World pizza with the honey crust and a chance to play with Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes.

South Austin Jug Band

South Austin Jug Band already has been in Steamboat for a week, playing in MusicFest, and will stay for a Sunday afternoon gig at Bear River Bar and Grill and a Sunday night gig at Levelz.

The five-member band has become a Colorado regular since winning the Telluride Bluegrass Band Contest in 2002.

"That opened a lot of doors for us," upright bass player and vocalist Will Dupuy said.

The South Austin Jug Band was invited back to play on the main stage at the 2003 Telluride Bluegrass Festival. There, the company they were in awed the band.

"Keller Williams went on after us, and we were sharing our dressing room with Keller, Bela Fleck and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It was so cool to be involved in that."

South Austin Jug Band plays a style of bluegrass influence by Western swing, Django Reinhart-style swing and rock 'n' roll.

But they are not a jug band. The name came from an old Muppet movie, "Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas."

"We have no jug," Dupuy said, but the band is from South Austin. "South Austin is the alternative lifestyle part of Austin. It's south of the river and it's where you'll see the bumpersticker 'we're all here, because we're not all there.'"

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