Harpers soulful sounds to fill Vail | VailDaily.com

Harpers soulful sounds to fill Vail

Sarah MausolfVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado There are signs that Ben Harper will fit in here in Vail. He is, after all, the sultan of mellow.Revered for what Rolling Stone calls his spiritually conscious soul/folk hybrid, Harper could mesh well with Vails stop-and-crush-the-powder attitude.

As Mojo Music manager Clark Woodard puts it, Hes kind of a mellow or laid back kind of dude, I guess you would say, similar to a lot of people in the valley.With Harper set to perform Saturday night in Vail, the buzz around town has been building to a rather un-Harper-esque frenzy.Woodard said he fielded about 30 calls from people asking where they can get tickets. He views Harpers arrival as good news.I like his music, he said. I think its good for the town to get big name acts out here, especially after we lost 8150 and State Bridge, so its good theyre doing a little something to bring good music into town.Drivers who turned their radios to KZYR 97.7 this week heard more of Harpers soulful crooning than usual.The Zephyr broadcast Harper songs twice every hour on Friday in anticipation of the show.He has a fantastic following here in Vail and throughout Colorado, station general manager Tony Mauro said. I think Colorado really embraces the rootsier type artist, the singer-songwriters. Several locals predicted the show will draw a big crowd. Given the culture, I think itll be a solid hit, Eagle Vail resident Bryan Nagel said, noting he listens to Harper songs on his iPod. Its got a good tone to it and I think a lot of people will be attracted to it.

Harper will perform with his band, the Innocent Criminals. Their current lineup is Oliver Charles on drums, Leon Mobley on percussion, Juan Nelson on bass, Michael Ward on guitar and Jason Yates on keyboard. Opening acts include Canadian band Bedouin Soundclash and local funk group Little Hercules.Exactly what fans can expect is hard to say. Harper typically drafts his playlist the day of the show, according to his publicist. He usually sings a mix of new stuff and classics.Harper could not be reached for an interview this week. Recent hits off his 2007 Lifeline album include Fight Outta You, In The Colors and Fool For A Lonesome Train, while some of his most recognizable classics are Steal My Kisses and Burn One Down.What makes this California native stand out on the music scene is his mastery of the Weissenborn lap steel guitar, as well as his talent for blending folk, blues, gospel, soul, rock and reggae.Although some locals described his style as laid back, that doesnt mean the mood at the show will be lackadaisical.Edwards resident Brandi MacKenzie, 33, said she saw Harper in concert in Iowa several years ago.It was the wildest show Ive ever been to, she said, noting the crowd indulged in a lot of partying.The concert took place just after Harper released Diamonds on the Inside, a harder-rocking album than previous CDs, and the music incited the crowd.They responded more to the heavier songs, MacKenzie recalled. People kind of started to get sleepy when the slower songs came on.As far as tonights concert is concerned, Harper will be the final band featured in Spring Back to Vail, an event produced by Highline Sports and Entertainment and promoted by Peeples Ink. Organizers expect close to 7,000 people, thanks in part to Harpers socially-conscious bent.Ben Harper is considered to be conscious music and I think its a good fit for Vail in that he appeals to a large demographic, as well as obviously Vails initiatives and pushes toward being green and being a good steward as a ski town, Jens Werner with Peeples Inc. said.High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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