While, with snow in the forecast and a chill in the air, this weekend looks like winter, spring is on the way. Want proof? The Canyons' Spring Concert Series starts next weekend.

John Lee Hooker Jr. will open the spring shows on Saturday, March 18, bringing his brand of funky blues and R&B. The concert will start four weeks of live music in The Forum at The Canyons Resort; all of the shows are free and open to the public.

After Hooker visits, the series will see bluesman Coco Montoya come to town on March 25 with reggae rockers Rising Lion playing for the April Fools on the first day of the month. Classic rocker Jesse Colin Young will close out the series on April 8. The shows are presented by Mountain Town Stages and The Canyons Resort.

"We bill it as the world's largest après ski party," said Randy Barton, Mountain Town Stages' first chair.

"It's just kind of a nice time of year for a concert," said Sofia Mileti, the second chair at Mountain Town Stages. "People have spring fever and the sun is shining and the snow is melting and a lot of people are still up on the mountains."

The concerts attract a combination of skiers and music fans who come out to The Canyons for music on a Saturday afternoon. The shows play with a relaxed, open atmosphere where all ages are represented and dancing is welcome.

"It's a great vibe spring skiing and outdoor music," said Katie Eldridge, spokesperson for The Canyons. "I have friends that come out every year in March, and that's a big draw for them.


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In its third year the concert series which is programmed by Mountain Town Stages and financed by The Canyons will run almost exactly like last year's, but with two fewer shows.

While Hooker, who will play this coming Saturday, carries one of the more recognizable monikers, he differs from his namesake and father, the late John Lee Hooker. A guitar pioneer, the elder Hooker made his name playing classic blues. His son, however, has forged his own musical identity.

"John Lee Hooker Jr. is much funkier, more of a band feel," said Mileti.

Though the blues remain a significant influence for Hooker, R&B and funk also play significant parts in his music, according to Mileti.

Concert viewers can expect a more modern show from Hooker. Coco Montoya who will play the next weekend is, however, cut from cloth closer to Hooker's father.

"For our spring series, we always book at least one classic blues act," said Mileti.

Montoya, a blues guitarist, fills that spot. "People love him," she said.

Similarly, Rising Lion, who will play on April 1, fills another niche in the spring series schedule.

"We always try and book at least one reggae act," Mileti said.

The band is the only one in the series who has played a Mountain Town Stages show before.

The final show, with Jesse Colin Young the former lead signer of The Yongbloods will offer a current glimpse of a classic rocker.

"Jesse Colin Young is the one I'm looking most forward to," said Barton, "because he doesn't come out [on tour] that often."

"It's cool because this is our third year doing this series and we've been trying to get him every year," said Mileti.

The singer-songwriter, she noted, rarely leaves Hawaii to make appearances in the mainland U.S.

"He doesn't tour much at all," she emphasized.

So when he comes to The Canyons with his classic rock sound, the audience should get a treat. And ultimately, Mileti said, almost all types of music fans should come away from the series happy.

"I feel like it's going to please all demographics," she said.

At each of the concerts, she noted, Mountain Town Stages will have a table set up where "Local Wonders" CDs

will be available along with organization memberships and more information.

"We do really appreciate donations, and we like people coming to our table and talking to us," said Mileti.

Otherwise, the shows offer both Parkites and visitors a chance to come out and see some quality, free live music in a relaxed setting. Barton said the venue is one of the few place a person can find live music in the afternoon after a day on the slopes.

"Après ski is not something that exists a lot in Utah," he said. "I wish we had a lot more of it in town."

"Every year, the spring and summer concert series get better and better," said Eldridge. "And it's something people look forward to."

The snow might be melting, but there will certainly be people on the hill, and while spring is on the way, there's still a few skiing afternoons and après ski opportunities to be had.

"It's cool," said Mileti, "to be able to enjoy an outdoor concert in a mountain setting like that."

The Canyons Spring Concert Series will run every Saturday from March 18 through April 8 from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. All of the shows are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.mountaintownstages.com or www.thecanyons.com.