Five bands provide live music for inaugural America’s Winter Opening
Live music schedule
4-6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 — Hardscrabble
2-4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 — Funky Johnson
4-6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 — Natural Geometry
2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 — First Chair
4-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 — Renegade Sons
All concerts take place at the Fountain Stage in Beaver Creek Village, part of the Birds of Prey Way expo area. For more information on the EverBank America’s Winter Opening, visit http://www.bcworldcup.com.
BEAVER CREEK — Hailing from Denver, Summit County and across the Vail Valley, the five bands that comprise the lineup for the inaugural EverBank America’s Winter Opening are a diverse bunch. From bluegrass to rock and blues, the event is an opportunity to give the world a peek into the local music scene.
Get the party started
Hardscrabble has been performing around the Vail Valley in various forms since 2008, and Eric Lovgren, the band’s banjo player, said “Hardscrabble 4.5” has settled into a mix of original and classic bluegrass tunes.
The local crew will be the first to take the stage in Beaver Creek Village, providing the soundtrack for today’s America’s Winter Opening kickoff party. The family-friendly event also includes food and drink concessions, swag giveaways and Kettle Kurling, which resembles the Olympic sport using copper kettles rather than the traditional stones.
“Bluegrass music and Kettle Kurling will pair nicely,” Lovgren said. “Hopefully we’re someplace where we can see it all go down and get the crowd going in that sense, as well. Or give the curlers a hard time.”
Between bouts of heckling, the band will draw from the lexicon of Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin and Flatt and Scruggs and put a bluegrass spin on anything from Marshall Tucker and The Grateful Dead to The Rolling Stones or even The Beatles.
“We think this event has something for everyone,” Lovgren said. “We’re just as curious as anybody to see what this event is like and hope it builds into something great.”
Friday funk and rock
Funky Johnson will hop the pass from Summit County on Friday with its mix of booty-shaking grooves.
“It’s kind of a different crowd for us, the World Cup people and the people who like ski racing,” said Dan Brewer, bass player for Funky Johnson. “We’re going to be an upbeat, dance kind of a band, playing R&B, funk and soul music. We play mostly covers — Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Sly and the Family Stone — we even do some Susan Tedeschi stuff. We’re kind of all over the place.”
Female vocalist Jessica Jones leads the outfit, belting out everything from Earth, Wind and Fire to Aretha Franklin and Prince.
Denver-based band Natural Geometry is next on the schedule. Lead singer Kenny Lee Young said the band’s music is heavily influenced by the ’60s and ’70s blues-rock era.
“A lot of our originals kind of take a lot of highlights from bands like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors — we kind of put a different, modern twist on things, that heavy kind of distorted blues,” he said.
Natural Geometry’s set in Beaver Creek will mix original tunes with covers from The Rolling Stones to Bill Withers, and even some current pop tunes, such as Daft Punk and 311.
“I feel like the diverse crowd that is brought to some of these tournaments, I think that we can do a good job of appealing to every single person,” Young said.
Wrapping it up
Saturday brings the last two concerts of the America’s Winter Opening lineup, starting with Eagle County’s own First Chair, led by husband-and-wife duo David and Amanda Gonzalez. The band primarily performs covers, with a few blues-inspired rock originals.
“We know the diversity of bringing people from all different places for an event in Beaver Creek is huge, and we love the energy of that,” Amanda Gonzalez said. “We were very excited about being a part of that, just being able to perform and show people what the Vail Valley has to offer, not only the mountains but our social music scene.”
Expect a few originals, as well as songs from the Black Crowes, Eagles, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, The Doobie Brothers, Johnny Cash and more.
The final performance comes from another local act, Renegade Sons. Singer and rhythm guitarist Joe Hanley leads the “eclectic bar band.”
“We do a lot of diverse types of tunes, and we have a fair amount of improvisation within that framework,” Hanley said. “We might do a tune, like a Rolling Stones tune that’s not super common to hear a band cover, but we’ll open it up a little bit. Most of the stuff that we do, there’s more jamming involved, as opposed to just a three-minute rock tune.”
The band’s current focus is on cover songs, and Wilco, Pink Floyd, The Meters, Led Zeppelin, JJ Cale, Ray LaMontagne, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder and The Beatles all make their way onto Renegade Sons set lists.
“It’s always good to play for new people,” Hanley said. “It’s good to be involved with the bigger events in the valley.”