Music Box: Lucky No. 7 for Soundcheck Fest
Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Spearheaded by Tim Ruland and the Pinedale Fine Arts Council, the Soundcheck Music Fest has developed into one of the more diverse, low-key, free music fests in the area. The willingness to bring under-the-radar indie acts with cult followings to a one-off show in Pinedale is not an easy task, but with this being the seventh annual, persistance is the steady hand.
“Soundcheck’s unique in that we don’t really adhere to any specific genres,” Ruland said, “so it’s really fun to book a garage rock band or an indie rock band and watch them get a great reception in a rural mountain town.”
Desolately beautiful songs via Portland, Oregon’s Laura Gibson will headline the day. She recently toured the area as vocalist for the Portland Cello Project. Gibson’s hushed, vintage voice is often dispensed with a simplistic music palette, textured only in support of her breezy songs. Perhaps think of it as melancholy, literary Portland folk, bringing to mind fellow Portlandia bands Horse Feathers, Fleet Foxes and M. Ward. NPR called her 2009 release, Beasts of the Season, “nothing short of a masterpiece.”
The middle slot will be occupied by The Lowest Pair, the duo of banjo pickin’ songsters Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee of Olympia, WA, and Minneapolis, respectively. Nestling somewhere in between their own compositions and a traditional, back porch vibe, it’s rare when two banjos are allowed on stage.
Opening the early evening show is Austin duo Brennan Leigh and Noel McKay. Mashing country duets a la George Jones and Melba Montgomery with sophisticated songwriting, this female/male combo brings heart and humor.
An after-party at Rock Rabbit with another Austin duo, Loves It!, will complete the Austin-Pinedale connection in fine form.
Soundcheck VII featuring Laura Gibson, The Lowest Pair, and Brennan Leigh and Noel McKay, 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday at American Legion Park in Pinedale. Free, all-ages. Pinedalefinearts.com, 307-367-7322.
Music on Victor’s Main
Attracting a weekly attendance of more than 3,000, Teton Valley Foundation’s Music on Main is now in its ninth season. The original free, family-friendly community series will kick off this year in local style, featuring rock/country-soul seven-piece Mandatory Air, and newcomers John Wayne’s World.
According to drummer and band leader John Wayne Harris, Jr. (also the new drummer for Mandatory Air and a member of Uncle Stack & the Attack), “We are re-creating classic and contemporary material from instrumental jazz/funk icons such as The Meters, John Scofield, Medeski Martin and Wood, Grant Green, Billy Cobham, Galactic, Jaco Pastorious, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and Snarky Puppy. The project is a chance for us to stretch out our musical limbs and put our chops on display with a strong emphasis on heavy, danceable grooves.”
John Wayne’s World also features Mark Longfield (Mandatory Air/Major Zephyr), Dusty Nichols-Schmolze (Uncle Stack and The Attack/Canyon Kids), Leif Routman (Black Mother Jones/Maddy & the Groove Spots) and a new talented guitarist to the local scene, Michael Evans (formerly of Baton Rouge’s GrisGris).
Music on Main presents Mandatory Air with John Wayne’s World at 6 p.m., Thursday at Victor City Park. Free, all-ages. TetonValleyFoundation.org.
There are People Under the Stairs
Double K (Michael Turner) and Thes One (Christopher Portugal) – People Under the Stairs – are arguably the most successful fully independent hip-hop duo in the biz. Known as “The Steep Dan of Rap Music,” recent festival performances like Glastonbury, Coachella and Bonarroo (which SPIN noted as “simply the best performance of Friday … period”) have hooked a new generation into their underground world of sampling, MCing and DJing.
For opener Mikey Thunder, this will be a sweet homecoming. He relocated to Colorado a few years after being kidnapped by Michael Franti and Spearhead for the Stay Human Tour in 1999. Since then, Thunder has shared his “bass-driven-party-rock-electrocrunk-futurefunk” with some of the biggest names in hip hop and electronic music including Jurassic 5, Digable Planets, Del The Funky Homosapien, and Arrested Development.
People Under the Stairs with Mikey Thunder, 9:30 p.m., Friday at Pink Garter Theatre. $17-$20. PinkGarterTheatre.com.