Hear all you can

Ben Quirk

They say you are what you eat, which makes me 75 percent blueberry bagel and cream cheese, 20 percent yogurt and 5 percent nameless proteins from various questionable sources all bound up in a sloshy, fizzy matrix of pale ales and PBR. All the regular readers of this weekly feature (all three of them, Mum, Dad, Bro: respect and thanks) might have noticed the high proportion of food references here and there. I make no apology and I deny it’s lazy journalism. It’s more that it provides such good material for analogies, similes and headlines. It’s something we can all relate to. Who hasn’t described a song as “delicious” or an album as “tasty?” It works both ways. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told sushi rocks. So you see it’s hard not to see the live offerings each week as an eat-all-you-can-buffet, a long overflowing table of deliciousness (a new word and I take full credit). Though the flavors and themes might change each week the table remains full. It all depends on how hungry you are and how many times you return and partake of the bluegrass bowls, the rock ‘n’ roll dips, the funk entrees and the reggae desserts. Some people’s appetites are insatiable and their CD racks line up like the washing up drainage trays in hotel kitchens. For others the desire to eat is fleeting and they prefer to pick and choose from the best, the nicest looking and the ones with the best aroma. One thing is sure though, no one goes hungry.Gift of Gab and Lateef tell it like it isThe seminal hip-hop label Quannum stalwarts storm into Vail today for a night of upfront underground hip-hop. Hot on the heels of label mate Lyrics Born who put on a downright rollicking show a couple of weeks back, these two artists attended Davis College California together, where they formed the Solesides collective with DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Chief Xcel of Blackalicious. They set about redefining the boundaries of modern day hip-hop from their West Coast base. Known for their incisive observations of the world, their eye-opening lyrics are an attempt to pierce the murky whirlpool of everyday life and bring us some perspective on an often twisted society and engender a little love and respect for our fellow humans. Don’t expect some wishy-washy hands in the air preaching though as the music will sometimes try and sneak in behind your eyeballs and disperse into your brain, while at other times it will charge at you like a raging bull, nostrils flared and horns lowered.

Clumsy Lovers steamroll through bluegrass Although these Canadian musicians like to claim that their progress as a band so far has been almost accidental, it is no fluke that they are where they are. A combination of original music, dedicated instrumentation and single-minded commitment to playing live and getting their sound out to as many people as they can has resulted in a rapidly growing fan base, packed-out venues and a rosy-looking future. Recently signed to the Vancouver label Nettwerk, the band intends to continue its practice of playing live as much as physically possible. With nearly 300 shows a year for the last few years Clumsy Lovers plan for the accidents to keep on happening and see where their style of Celtic, bluegrass and rock will take them.Railroad Earth steam through alternative landscapesWhether they’re playing alternative rock or reinterpreting bluegrass Railroad Earth are having a good time and on a permanent mission to succeed as a band and progress as musicians. Acclaimed for both their music and lyrics this young band is at the forefront of the new wave of bluegrass outfits breathing fresh life into a genre that is all too easily bogged down and lost in the background.

Rose Hill Drive returns to rock the houseThe Sproul brothers return for a triumphant headline show after supporting North Mississippi Allstars earlier on in the season. While their style of driving, almost old school rock was unexpected at a mainly funk show, they were well received and put the crowd in a bouncy, good mood for the headliners. Job done innit. This time round they’ll be coming on last and playing for longer and supported by North Caroline punk-metal outfit ASG, a band who like to play as loud as possible, and then a little bit louder. Surely a night of amps turned up to eleven, synchronized moshing and bleeding ear drums.Phix swim into the pastFor all your Phishy needs Phix are there to provide relief and stimulation and weirdly enough slaps with wet fish aren’t involved anywhere. Or are they? Acknowledging that no one could every truly follow in the footsteps of Phish, Phix aim to recreate the feel of improvised rock’n’roll jamming and the laid back grooves that their icons were famed for.The Pharcyde take a deep breath

A continuing entity despite the departure of two founding members, The Pharcyde stroll into town on the back of 2004’s album Humboldt Beginnings, a collection of songs with heartfelt tributes to the power and mystique of the blessed herb. Surviving founders Imani Wilcox and Romye “Booty Brown” Robinson are joined by newbies Spaceboyboogie X and “Greg” Smooche on record though it remains to be seen whether they will make a live appearance.The Pharcyde of yesteryear were notable for their innovative sound and warped lyrics and sense of humor a style that will be brought to Vail’s mountains on Saturday as they carry on with a rich musical legacy.Little Hercules funks above their weightLittle Hercules is a band familiar with all things local. From the best beer to the best delis to the best powder stashes. They definitely know what makes the crowd tick and delight in winding them up and letting them go fly. Unleashing rock, roll and funk all bound together with lashings of self-confessed grease, Little Hercules’ sound is involving and exhilaratingly grubby. Rummage with them so you too can release that repressed groove, hidden inside. Vail, Colorado

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