Do the snow dance | VailDaily.com

Do the snow dance

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
Big Head Todd and the Monsters are from Colorado, so it’s natural for them to travel to the mountains and play in the High Country. They headline Vail's Snow Daze concerts on Dec. 11 in Vail Village.
J. Mimna Photography ? Special to the Daily |

Snow Daze concert schedule

All Vail Snow Daze concerts are free of charge and will be held at Solaris in Vail Village. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and shows start at 6 p.m. each night.

Friday, Dec. 11: Big Head Todd and the Monsters with opener Bonfire Dub.

Saturday, Dec. 12: JJ Grey & Mofro with opener Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers.

More information: Visit www.vail.com under “Events.”

if the bands playing for Vail’s Snow Daze could collectively wish for one thing during their concerts today and Saturday, then they would wish for an all-out, powder-blowin’, just-shook-the-snow-globe blizzard.

“My hope is that it’s heavily snowing,” said Todd Park Mohr, of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, which headlines the Solaris stage today. “I’m a skier, and a couple other band members like to get up there, too.”

Even California-based Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers are wishing for some winter weather. Bluhm and her band performed at the WinterWonderGrass Festival two years ago.

“I feel like when you’re in cold-weather places, people just get so excited for the snow, and there’s a certain energy. I’m a big skier, so I love to get out there when I can,” Bluhm said.

“Then my grandmother one day out of nowhere says, ‘What the hell is Mofro?’ I said, well, ‘That’s the name for what I do.’”JJ Grey

Of course, the powder is what many revelers at Vail’s annual concert weekend come to town for, so they’re more than happy to dance and sing along to their favorite tunes in a blizzard. Usually the bands love it just as much as the crowd, said Scott Stoughton, of Bonfire Dub.

“We love it. You’re out in the elements, and you’re dancing with Mother Nature. It’s snowing on you and on the audience,” Stoughton said, who has opened at Snow Daze concerts in the past. “Because of the great stage and great support at Snow Daze, there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation for the season. It’s been cold and snowy every time we’ve played. That’s what it’s all about.”

Rock, blues and some Rocky Mountain tunes

Vail’s free weekend of concerts kicks off today, with local favorite Bonfire Dub opening for Colorado rock band veterans Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

Snow Daze is a precursor to a very busy winter tour for Big Head Todd, which plans to tour some 30 cities beginning in January. The band will soon be releasing two new singles, “New World Arisin’” and “Wipeout Turn.” They’re no strangers to the Snow Daze stage, but frontman Mohr said audiences can expect an energetic rock ’n’ roll show with some blues rolled in.

“We have a lot of hit songs from the ’90s that people will remember and a lot of material to draw from,” he said.

Mohr is a bit of a local, with family that lives in Eagle. He even lived in the Vail Valley for a couple of years and considers it home, in a number of ways. When he gets a chance, you might find him fishing in the Eagle River, hiking in the forest or getting breakfast at his favorite spot in Edwards.

“(The Vail Valley) has a special place for me. The bands have had some really cool shows in Dobson Arena and at Ford Park. We always have a great time. I’m a big fan of the Colorado high country,” he said.

Stoughton and Bonfire Dub warm up the crowd for the main act. They promise an “authentic, positive experience” that incorporates everything from deep folk to rock to reggae. Expect some new songs and fun covers, too.

Southern soul and California folk

Other Snow Daze veterans, JJ Grey & Mofro, take the stage on Saturday. Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Grey brings some deep soul, grit and funk to heat up Vail’s frigid slopes. You can almost hear the salty air and pecan trees in his voice.

Grey spoke to us from his northern Florida home, where he tends to his chickens, climbs his pecan trees, fishes and surfs with his kids. However, he said he was excited to introduce Vail fans to his newest album, “Ol’ Glory.”

“The songs that matter with me just come to me and write themselves,” he said. “On the title track, ‘Ol’ Glory,’ the verse you’re hearing is just original to that moment. I sat in my studio and lay down a beat, and just sang what came to me — wham, bam, there it was in that moment.”

Grey is known for the truthful storytelling in his songs. Some of it is so autobiographical that it led to the name JJ Grey & Mofro. A friend used to nickname him Mofro, Grey explained, so when he began performing, he used it as his stage name.

“Then my grandmother one day out of nowhere says, ‘What the hell is Mofro?’ I said, well, ‘That’s the name for what I do.’ She said, ‘Why don’t you call it by your name? You’re singing about your life? Are you ashamed of all of us?’ I said, ‘Of course not,’ and the next day I woke up and knew I had to put my name on it,” Grey said.

If you come late, then you’ll miss out on hearing Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, a country folk band with sunny California vibes. Their self-titled album was released at the end of the summer and has a healthy dose of storytelling and what Bluhm calls a lean, tight sound.

For Bluhm, who started playing the guitar at age 17, making music and performing is a passion.

“From the moment that I started performing, singing and playing, it was like magic,” she said. “I love being at live shows and experiencing that energy between the band and audience. I never wanted to be in the audience, I was always trying to get backstage.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.




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