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Concert series basks in early spring

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Extra sunlight hours thanks to an early spring back to daylight savings time this year promise the Canyon’s extended après ski Spring Concert Series will bask in a new glow.

Last year two acts were snowed out at the outdoor venue. But this year, "spring back" comes March 11, one month earlier than last year, and one day after skiers and boarders unbuckle their bootstraps at The Forum for this Saturday afternoon’s series opener, Liquid Soul.

Taking advantage of the extra sunshine, the annual complementary entertainment lineup at the resort, booked by local music nonprofit, Mountain Town Stages, has more than doubled 2006’s list, featuring seven bands, all heavy on the rock.

In fact, the 2007 lineup will culminate with rock icon Joan Jett and The Blackhearts a concert Mountain Town Stages executive director Toby Martin predicts could draw as many as 1,000 fans.

"I’ll tell you why I book rock ‘n roll for spring concerts — it’s cold," says Martin. "It’s not an 84-degree afternoon with people sitting with their wine and French bread. These are people coming off the mountain standing there in ski boots and parkas I thought making it a little more energized would really help the crowd.

"The acts are free, they’re fun, they’re loud and a great way to keep warm after skiing."

The first band to hoist their talent to the mountaintop, Liquid Soul, is an eight-piece Chicago band that emerged from a downtown underground "street-jazz."

Produced by Fayne P. Lewis, son of Ramsey Lewis, the band has opened for Sting, played at the Inaugural Parade, and twice at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. In 2000, Liquid Soul’s album, "Here’s the Deal," was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Martin explains that the band derives its sound from an eclectic batch of influences. While the terms "funk band" and "jam band" have been attached to the group in the past, Liquid Soul’s Web site explains that their music is best described as acid jazz with a harder edge (for instance, Liquid Soul’s saxophone player, Mars Williams, has played with many pop rock groups and artists like The Psychedelic Furs and Billy Idol.)

The band’s Web site quotes Chicago Sun-Times music critic Lloyd Sachs who reported, "Liquid Soul stakes a claim as the country’s foremost proponents of acid jazz. The tag is lame. But as long as it sells Liquid Soul’s galloping grooves, belting horn charts and infectious wall-to-wall energy, it will suffice."

Following this weekend’s debut, the series will continue on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month of March with 80s cover bands, bluegrass, rockabilly and funk-inspired tunes, as well as classic rock music.

Some acts, such as MOFRO, will also perform a late-night gig at Kimball Junction’s night club, Suede, according to Martin.

The Canyons spokeswoman Elizabeth Dowd says the expanded lineup this year was only natural, since the concerts have been so successful in years past.

"A lot of people go the concerts are widely attended — but it depends on the weather," she admits. "But the concerts in the summer and springtime at the Forum have become a staple the more we offer them, the more people seem to enjoy them."

While Mountain Town Stages played a critical role in assembling the musical acts, Martin gives a lot of credit to The Canyons for their commitment to bring music to the 4,000 skiers and riders on the mountain, and to the community as a whole.

"I think the Canyons see that it has a great impact for the community. They’re drawing people to their mountain because the music is a big plus," he said. "It’s my hope, if we can get the news out to younger people in college and high schools they’ll have some fun up there at the Canyons, that this a precursor to trying to really build a spring break business here."

The Canyons Spring Concert Series begins this Saturday, March 10 at the Forum. Concerts begin at 3:15 p.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.thecanyons.com or http://www.mountaintownstages.com.


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