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Jackson Hole 4th of July 2015: Freedom of American Roots

Posted on Jul 1, 2015

(a majority of this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)

MotherHips

The Mother Hips

There’s no better holiday to celebrate our country’s phenomenally massive development of American roots music than Independence Day. Homeland composition has been harvested through sheer liberation and liberty, expressing ideas, melodies and genres that never before existed. Whether you’re in Jackson, Teton Village, Victor, or Pinedale, there’s reason to grab a lawn chair, your favorite beverage, and let the colors fly.

Begin the festive week on at Music on Main in Victor City Park (6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, free, all-ages) featuring the earthy pop rock of California’s The Mother Hips, along with the gritty Americana and slide-induced country-blues of Screen Door Porch. The Mother Hips have been around for nearly twenty-five years, during which they developed a cult following for their rootsy mix of ‘70s rock and power pop, a dirty-yet-sweet approach that earned the attention of American Recordings Label founder Rick Rubin.

Friday, July 3 will feature music on two big outdoor stages—Jared and The Mill with

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Wood Smoke Rising releases eponymous debut album

Posted on Jul 1, 2015

WoodSmokeRisingWriting, arranging and recording an album in a bedroom or garage is not glitzy, but with the tools available in this day in age quality control is not only attainable, but an education. Moreover, the experience of “paying dues” and figuring out the process on a DIY level is respectable, and the personal rewards reach its fullest potential.

One of Jackson’s freshest up-and-coming acts, bluegrass quintet Wood Smoke Rising, has done just that. The self-titled, ten-track release was a team project between members Andy Gabel (banjo/vocals), Josh Metten (fiddle), Lucas Nash (mandolin), Rob Sidle (bass), and bandleader Mike Swanson (guitar/vocals). The album off all-original material is split between instrumental dashes and Swanson-led lyrical experiences.

For more insight on the group, check out this interview with Swanson. To preview the album’s music, surf over to the band’s music player.

Wood Smoke Rising Album Release Party, 10 p.m. Thursday July 9 at Town Square Tavern. $5 includes a copy of the CD. 

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Silver Dollar Bar lusters with remodel

Posted on May 20, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)

Stage view render of the new Silver Dollar Bar room
Stage view render of the new Silver Dollar Bar room

Electrifying times at the historic Silver Dollar Bar in The Wort Hotel, where construction phase of a remodel has been in the works since mid-winter. The space itself has grown forty percent to the West, where a newly designed bandstand and dance floor sit in the former locale of the Silver Dollar Mercantile gift shop. A smaller replica of the current bar has been produced—original artwork and silver dollars included—that will face the stage in the Northwest corner of the new addition. Essentially, there will now be three rooms divided (or not) by partition walls—the original bar area to the East, the central room where the stage and dance floor were previously, and the West room, which will initially open on music nights only.

Acoustically and aesthetically, the Silver Dollar has, at times, been a challenge to produce a quality audio experience via “the box” where the previous stage used to sit. The area was soundproof, but not necessarilyconducive to the flow of sound. Speakers were flown in the main barroom a couple of years ago, which allowed sound to travel further without sacrificing certain frequencies. The latest room design is more open with speakers mounted not only above the stage, but also strategically tiered in the other two spaces in order to manage volume while allowing for sound to blanket the room. For what is arguably the venue with the most consistent dinner crowd that is also coupled with four nights of weekly live music, stepping up the audio/visual will likely prove to be a worthwhile investment.

With the new space also comes another weekly band residency, “Thursday Dance Party,” courtesy of Dixieland and jazz band Jackson Six, led by the infamous trombone troubadour John Kidwell. The devoted crew of swing dancers will surely appreciate this new night (debuting May 28), along with the new dance floor real estate.

To celebrate the Grand Re-Opening this Saturday, local country-soul band Bootleg Flyer will break in the new stage, adorned by a special horn section for the night. Silver Dollar Bar Grand Re-Opening with Bootleg Flyer, 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Free. 732-3939.

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‘Lil Smokies: smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

Posted on May 19, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)

LilSmokiesIt sure is cool to see former Jacksonites from the formative days of yesteryear’s local music scene making waves on the regional and national front. Featuring former locals Pete Barrett (guitar, vocals, songwriting) and Matt Cornette (banjo), Missoula’s The Lil’ Smokies formed in 2009 along with Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Cameron Wilson (mandolin), and Jesse Brown (Fiddle). The progressive bluegrass sextet has succeeded in growing a Montana following while getting recognized on a national level as well. The Lil’ Smokies were honored most recently by the International Bluegrass Music Awards (IBMA 2014) with a nomination for the Momentum in Bluegrass Band Award. The Lil Smokies, 10 p.m. Wednesday at Town Square Tavern. $5. 733-3886. 

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Smasher’s Ball with The Electric Bliss

Posted on May 19, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)

RugbySmashing, electric, and celebrating twenty-five years of rugby in Jackson Hole, JH Moose Rugby will host live music, and a live and silent auction in support of the men’s and women’s teams. Jackson’s freshest cover band, The Electric Bliss, will unleash a soundtrack of alt-rock, disco, funk, pop and metal. The lineup includes Kirsten Farney (vocals), Mike Covell (guitar), Steve Ranck (drums), and David Bundy (bass). The 1st Annual Smasher’s Ball with The Electric Bliss, 9:30 p.m. at Town Square Tavern. JH Moose Rugby fundraiser. $5. 733-3886. 

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Jess Camilla O’Neal & The NeverSweat Players

Posted on May 13, 2015

(a portion of this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

Jess Camilla O’Neal & The NeverSweat Players

Born and raised on a dude ranch in Moran while performing in plays at the family-operated Jackson Hole Playhouse, Jess Camilla O’Neal now lives in Dubois where she performs with her band, The NeverSweat Players. O’Neal will be the first featured songwriter of the summer season, performing with her quartet tonight at Songwriter’s Alley—a weekly, songwriter-focused open stage, 8 to 11 p.m. every Wednesday at Haydens Post. The event is open to all musicians and small ensembles interested in signing up to perform a two or three-song set. Original music is supported, though not mandatory.

Aaron Davis: How did your upbringing and theatre experience at the Jackson Hole Playhouse contribute to your current musical output?
Jess Camilla O’Neal: My first summer stock performance—90 days of shows, nightly—began when I was five years old as Marta in The Sound of Music, so I really did grow up on the stage. I’m accustomed to life there…rehearsals, late nights, large crowds, cast, and community, all very similar. There is, however, a huge difference in performing a musical theater play than doing an intimate singer-songwriter set so that was a transition for me to not be a character but my authentic vulnerable self. I began playing piano at age four, which gave me the foundation to be able to call myself a real musician. I sang professionally with my three sisters from the time I was ten until I was twenty-four, and had seen many realms of the music business having record deals in London and Nashville. Those all made it easy for me to transition to a solo career. Life in the arts is the best.

AD: How many albums have you recorded and released?
O’Neal: My first solo album Eyes to the Skyline came out in 2009 under name Camilla O’Neal. I released that under my middle name and married name trying to have a career that wasn’t hinged upon my career as “The Garnick Girls.” Awaken to the Wind was released Feb. 2014; our newest single “I Love Anne” was released Feb. 14th 2015. I have other albums under Saddle Rock Sisters (the group with my sisters) that were all early 2000s, but I

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Ani DiFranco still percussive, socially conscious

Posted on Mar 24, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)
AniDiFranco_By_ShervinLainezThough lifestyle has drastically changed for Grammy-winning folk singer Ani DiFranco, becoming a parent has not changed her outlook as a politically charged, socially conscious lyricist. Now forty-five, DiFranco won a Grammy for 2003’s Evolve and published a book of poems and paintings, Verses, in 2007. Her lyrics tend to tackle topics like war, corporate greed, sexual assault and gun control, and she’s back that further by founding the Righteous Babe Foundation, which has supported various causes, including aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina, abortion rights, and gay equality. DiFranco received the Woman of Courage Award at the National Organization of Women Conference in 2006.

Opening the show is Brooklyn trio Pearl and the Beard, which passionately intertwine three distinct voices amidst a powerfully delicate orchestra of cello, guitars, keyboard, bells, and percussion, offering songs that speak to joy and sorrow, love and loss. Ani DiFranco with Pearl and the Beard, 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Center Theatre. $47-$52. JHCenterForTheArts.org. 

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TV on the Radio: All in the name

Posted on Mar 24, 2015

(this piece was published by Planet JH Weekly)

tv_radio

The formula of art + rock + soul = TV on the Radio—a beacon of light in a tidal wave of bands that don’t fit neatly into any one box. The Brooklyn quartet’s fifth studio album in 2011, Nine Types of Light, hit this listener in all of the best ways, earning a rotation within an ongoing playlist of mine dubbed “Best Albums of the Decade.” The predominantly mid-tempo music is patient, yet wittingly sharp and positive, mixing electronics, indie guitar rock, free jazz, funk, soul and a cappella doo-wop vocals—elements that don’t always jive together with such conciseness. It must also be understood that early TV on the Radio breathes beyond the latter, perhaps using that freedom of experimentation and thus reaching counterpoints: a driving punk rock aesthetic followed by a Brian Wilson-esque softness, while dabbling in a Funkadelic foundation.

Opening the show is Nostalghia. “Post-apocalyptic gypsy punk” is the tag that keeps surfacing while jamming Nostalghia’s music, the moniker for California-Iranian native Ciscandra Nostalghia. Ponder primal pop and avant-garde smoldering in an environment in which demons are exorcised and intensity is birthed via a cinema of sound. TV on the Radio with Nostalghia, 9 p.m. Friday at the Pink Garter Theatre. Sold out. PinkGarterTheatre.com. 

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