Spring Back to Vail features live music from 123GO! Project, April 15 | VailDaily.com
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Spring Back to Vail features live music from 123GO! Project, April 15

Krista Driscoll
kdriscoll@vaildaily.com
When 123Go! Project comes to the valley for the free Spring Back to Vail concert at Ford Park on Saturday, April 15, they will bring a set list that could include songs such as the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” or The Beatles’ “Come Together."

Spring Back to Vail schedule

Today through Sunday, April 16

Various Vail and Lionshead village businesses offer Triple R Rewards

Friday, April 14

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Spring Back to Vail Expo Village open, Gondola One, Mountain Plaza

Saturday, April 15

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Spring Back to Vail Expo Village open, Gondola One, Mountain Plaza

Noon to 3 p.m. — Tikis and Tunes Luau and Bud Light Bags Tournament semifinals, Sarge’s at Mid-Vail; includes a pig roast, Bud Light specials, live music from Schlep N’ Wolf, giveaways and more

6 p.m. — Free live music with Magic! and 123GO! Project, Ford Park (venue opens at 5:30 p.m.); a limited number of Private Reserve passes are available for $150 and include access to preferred viewing of the stage with outdoor heaters and complimentary food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

Sunday, April 16

Noon to 4 p.m. — Spring Back to Vail Expo Village open, with $3 Bug Light from noon to 1 p.m. and $3 burgers all day, Golden Peak

1 to 3 p.m. — Bud Light Bags Tournament finals, Golden Peak

3 p.m. — 15th annual World Pond Skimming Championships begin, Golden Peak

Visit vail.com/springback to register for the Bud Light Bags Tournament or World Pond Skimming Championships. Advance registration is required for both events.

In March 1991, bassist Stefan Lessard was taping an inaugural demo with the Dave Matthews Band and playing shows at bars, clubs and frat parties in the band’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. At the same time, 2,500 miles away, guitarist Mike McCready was heading into London Bridge Studio with fledgling Seattle grunge-rock band Pearl Jam to record songs for their debut album, “Ten.”

Incubated in music scenes separated by an entire continent, both bands experienced wild success through the 1990s, touring in support of multi-platinum albums and eventually coming together 10 years later at the Bridge School Benefit, an annual charity fundraiser in San Francisco organized by Neil Young.

It was there that Lessard said he and McCready first crossed paths, but it would be yet another decade before Lessard received a phone call from a friend asking if he and McCready could put together a band for a couple of parties at The Canyons in Park City, Utah, as part of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

“I jumped at the chance,” Lessard said, adding that it had been a dream of his to play alongside McCready ever since he picked up a bass. “It was a no-brainer.

“We have so much fun kind of living through some teenage garage-band dreams playing these early Rolling Stones songs or Beatles classics or Sex Pistols.”Stefan LessardMember of 123GO! Project

“It was offseason for me. During the off time, you don’t necessarily have enough time to get together. It sometimes allows just for a quick bunch of friends who are in the same position as you are to throw together a bunch of fun covers, songs you liked as kids and teenagers when you first got into music.”

A mutual friend, Brett Scallions, frontman for the rock band Fuel, was also available for a quick gig and brought along drummer Kenneth Schalk. The four-piece landed on a set list of classic rock and punk songs from the 1970s and ’80s, and 123GO! Project was born.

“It wasn’t as much a novelty as it was something that all of a sudden we enjoyed playing together, these four guys,” Lessard said.

‘Come Together’

Rehearsals and gigs for 123GO! Project are squeezed into gaps between tour dates, studio sessions and various other commitments for the musicians’ respective “career” bands and are generally planned around the quartet spending a week in the mountains somewhere.

“We all love riding and skiing and snowboarding, so we try to find a place that we’re going to play — it’s usually been around ski areas and mountains — set up there for a week, ride and ski during the day, and in the afternoon and evening, we rehearse,” Lessard said.

“We’re running down the songs and we’re coming up with ideas and talking about them, so that’s a typical 123GO! show. The sets have changed from show to show; some songs stay the same, other songs we try to go in and out. We’ve talked about some original improv jams. We might try to do something like that in Colorado.”

When 123GO! Project comes to the valley for the free Spring Back to Vail concert at Ford Park on Saturday, the situation will be a bit different.

“This time, we really only get one rehearsal before the show,” Lessard said. “We’re all doing our homework, we’ve played these tunes before together. The new songs, that’s just the good stuff. It’s always good playing new songs. If you’re not completely comfortable with the song, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t play it.

“We have so much fun kind of living through some teenage garage-band dreams playing these early Rolling Stones songs or Beatles classics or Sex Pistols.”

Lessard said to expect a few well-known tracks, such as the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” or The Beatles’ “Come Together,” which will feature the addition of a keyboard player.

“When you add an extra musician, the band is able to improvise, able to jam at the end of it,” he said. “Mike McCready is one of those players that he really gets into the solo and you’ve kind of got to just let him go. He’s got a bookmark on either end. He does it with Pearl Jam, as well, but you really want to see the talent that is coming through his hands, through the guitar.

“At the end of ‘Fire’ by Jimi Hendrix, I have to remember to play sometimes, I’m so in awe of what Mike’s playing. You have to tell yourself to breathe sometimes: ‘Keep playing, dude, stop staring.’ That’s the fun of it.”

Like Yukon, but not

Lessard said 123GO! Project is sort of the younger brother of Yukon Kornelius, another super band in which he plays alongside Adam Gardner of Guster, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies and drummer Eric Fawcett of Spymob.

Yukon Kornelius is known for being a raucous on-stage party, with guest musicians popping out of the woodwork at each show — McCready and Scallions even joined the band alongside members of O.A.R., Boyd Tinsley and Rashawn Ross of the Dave Matthews Band and Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister at a 2011 show in Vail.

But Lessard said 123GO! doesn’t quite have the comedy and complete ridiculousness of Yukon. Instead, it’s more focused on the core foursome.

“I love it when it’s with just Brett singing, just Mike on guitar and me on bass and Kenneth on drums — that three-piece of the rhythm section with the lead singer, that, to me, is punk music, one of the types of music I’ve loved playing since I started playing music,” Lessard said.

“I love the four-piece; I love what it stands for. There’s some great four-piece rock bands throughout time, throughout history. It’s kind of an homage to that ensemble.”

If the band members of 123Go! didn’t have to devote the majority of their time to families and gigs and careers and jobs, then they’d maybe head into the studio to try to work up some original music or lay down a few tracks for an album, Lessard said. But for the moment, they are happy to see how much fun they can milk from the project.

“Getting on stage with those guys is such a treat. … Whether we have one rehearsal or a week of rehearsals, we get on stage and it just kind of takes over, and so far, we’ve been lucky with not having any major train wrecks,” he said with a laugh.


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