The Buzz: JacksonHoleLive!

By on May 15, 2012
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Image: Courtesy Boom Chick

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Six free summer concerts promise something for everyone. 

Teton Valley has their Music on Main and now Jackson Hole has Bands at the Base of the Kinger. After a recent Chamber of Commerce study showed area merchants and locals alike wanted more music events, the Town of Jackson found a natural fit and perfect venue with Center Management, Inc. (CMI).
Not long after CMI took over day-to-day operations at the ice arena, it became apparent the group had more in mind than hockey. Event organizers Jeff Potter and Shannon McCormick have secured an enviable lineup of music for this season’s inaugural JacksonHoleLive! What’s more, thanks to a growing list of sponsors, the shows will be free.
McCormick said one of the priorities in booking the acts for JacksonHoleLive! was to stay flexible in scheduling in order to accommodate the numerous demands of a busy summer season in Jackson. “We have done our best to avoid conflicts with other music events and are excited to bring free live music to town,” McCormick said.
All shows will begin at a family-friendly time of 5:30 p.m. or earlier. See the full schedule in the sidebar.
The Dunwells
If England had an Austin, TX music scene, The Dunwells would be all over that town. As it is, the five-piece from Leeds only recorded at the famed Willie Nelson studio in Texas Hill Country called the Pedernales Studio. The result is their Blind Sighted Faith CD recorded for Playing In Traffic Records. The sessions were piloted by John Porter (Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, The Smiths, Ryan Adams, Los Lonely Boys) who is also from Leeds. It’s good but not as good as seeing the boys play live.
The States have been eating up UK’s version of Americana. The Dunwells hit the ground running with their 2011 debut on U.S. soil. The new release dropped in February 2012 and was followed by four much-talked about appearances at Austin’s SXSW in March. Live shows quickly spread the legend: The Dunwells are a show not to be missed.
Arrive early to this gig and spread your blanket close. This band is best enjoyed in an intimate setting. The Dunwells aren’t so much shoe-gazers but an intense focus on their craft can play as distant to audience members not fully engaged. Emphasis track “I Could be King” is a strong nu-folk number, but The Dunwells shine when they go acoustic, which is often. By the way, watch for the group around the Town Square on the day of their gig. They are known to busk incognito to drum up interest before their shows.
Lead singer/guitarist Joseph Dunwell (a dead-ringer for Matt Damon) is not the only one in the band with a fantastic voice. Brother Dave (guitar), cousins Jonny Lamb (drums) and Rob Clayton (bass), and David Hanson (guitar) all sing. In fact, the juicy multi-part harmonies, along with twang instrumentation like banjo, has earned the group favorable comparisons to Mumford & Sons.
Boom Chick
It will be impossible not to think of The White Stripes when Boom Chick takes the stage on July 7. When they start playing, well, that’ll cinch it for most.
First off, the drummer is a chick but that’s not where the “Chick” from their name comes in. Like Meg White, Moselle Spiller is not your conventional drummer. She never took a lesson and it shows. (The name of the group comes from Hoier explaining how he wanted the drums to go in each song.)
But there is something about her primal beating – and like White she is not shy about percussing the crap out of her drum kit – that opens a raw nerve in Boom Chick’s sound. Jack White also said his wife’s drumming liberated him to play guitar in a new and refreshing way.
Boom Chick’s other half is Spiller’s boyfriend, Frank Hoier, a guitar virtuoso who had made a name for himself in Brooklyn before turning his lady into a drummer in 2007. Hoier’s frenetic guitar work – often compared to Dick Dale’s surf sound because of his frequent use of slide – is bombastic enough to make listeners forget there is no bass player.
Spiller and Hoier never forget all they’ve got is each other, and that’s what makes this Red Hook (Brooklyn) couple so interesting. The music is Hoier’s search for the Beatles’ influences – a mix-mash of Delta blues and swamp boogie, garage rock in an age before laptop loops and processing. But it’s the nakedness of the duo that demands rapt attention. There is nowhere to hide in a two-piece.
Boom Chick will be pressed to fill much more than 90 minutes, if that. Their 2010 album Show Pony is but 20 minutes long. A seven-inch single called “Shake Can Well” was released in early February in advance of a full-length disc coming in October. Expect to dance.
Entertaining and riveting stuff, but they’ll never get out from under the shadow of The White Stripes. There are too many similarities and that novelty has already reached its coda.
Justin Townes Earle
Carrying the weight of his surname and the promise of his middle moniker (after Townes Van Zandt) has proved to be too much at times for the singer-songwriter from Nashville who now makes his home in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Father Steve Earle cut out on Justin when he was two years old. Even without the fatherly influence, son turned out just like daddy – a prolific songwriter with a drug and alcohol addiction.
Earle claims he was a junkie at age 12. He convinced his father to let him join his travelling band, The Dukes. That lasted briefly. Earle fired his son when it became evident his appetite for destruction was going to ruin his life, Earle’s band, or both.
Earle is mostly clean now, although he smokes pot daily, according to an interview he gave to the Boston Globe, and he was arrested after a concert in Indianapolis back in 2010. Earle has admitted he struggles with the idea of living the lifestyle of a tortured soul songwriter, realizing, occasionally, that he doesn’t have to live the songs he writes. When he’s on, he’s brilliant. Simple ditties like “Look the Other Way” are as good as anything Elvis Costello has done, delivered with a hint of his daddy’s Tennessee twang.
And can this guy play guitar? Earle has been playing “Halfway to Jackson” as an encore sans band. His guitar work sounds like one guy playing an acoustic and another playing mandolin, but it’s all Earle. The title of the song isn’t mentioned until the end. Expect Earle to play it and change the word “halfway” maybe? The crowd will roar.
The Features 
The Features have made about as much noise as they could in their hometown of Sparta, Tenn. The foursome, headed by singer-songwriter Matt Pelham grew up together with bandmates Roger Dabbs, Don Sergio (now replaced), and Parrish Yaw (now replaced). After forming a cover band in high school, they all attended college together in Murfreesboro and started gigging around the Nashville area in 1997.
The band recorded at least two full-length albums that were never released. After going through several record companies and, convinced success would never come from home, The Features began cultivating a following overseas where they are generally well-liked by British media.
Some Kind of Salvation, released in 2009, produced the band’s finest moment to date: A natural melding of the Russian folk-sounding “Whatever Gets You By” into the brass driven “The Drawing Board.” It’s vintage Features. It was 2009 that saw The Features nearly steal the spotlight at the Bonnaroo Music Festival; the same year fellow Tennessee rockers Kings of Leon signed the band to their fledgling label.
Their 2012 song “How it Starts” is featured in the current TV commercial for the 2013 Ford Mustang.
Robert Randolph & the Family Band
RR&FB will be the most recognizable name to hit the stage at the base of Snow King this summer as part of JacksonHoleLive! The four-time Grammy nominee outfit has five albums (two live) to their credit.
Robert Randolph created the unique funk-soul sound of his band in 2001. The pedal steel guitarist cites Stevie Ray Vaughn as a major influence but the group comes off sounding more like Earth, Wind, and Fire mashed up with Sly and the Family Stone.
RR&FB will be the closest thing to a jam band brought to Jackson this summer
by CMI. Many of RR&FB’s shows are taped and bootlegged by fans. Live favorites like the John Lee Hooker-influenced “Shake Your Hips” clock in at 10-plus minutes.
Randolph’s group began attracting serious national attention in 2004 after opening for Eric Clapton, playing Bonnaroo, and appearing on the popular PBS show Austin City Limits. When their third album, Colorblind, dropped October 10, 2006, the single “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” was an instant hit. It’s been used in several NBC commercials and was highlighted in the promo for Discovery Channel’s summer lineup in 2008.
Don’t expect Randolph to spend much time hidden away behind his pedal steel. He is known for dancing around stage and, if need be, inviting audience members onstage to help.
The Dunwells
Saturday, June 23rd, 5:30 p.m.
Boom Chick
Saturday, July 7, 4:30 p.m.
Justin Townes Earle
Wednesday, July 25, 5:30 p.m.
The Features
Wednesday, August 8, 5:30 p.m.
Robert Randolph
& The Family Band
Sunday, August 26, 5:30 p.m.
A sixth show is yet to bedetermined. Talent and date will be announced when confirmed.All shows at the natural outdoor amphitheater at the base of Snow King.
Sponsorship opportunities continue until May 25. Call Jeff Potter
at (307) 201-1633 to become a sponsor of JacksonHoleLive!
Image: Courtesy Boom Chick

About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

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