Hear reggae’s roar in Vail | VailDaily.com

Hear reggae’s roar in Vail

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyLion Vibes, who plays in Vail, Colorado Friday, includes: bottom row, right to left: Jeff Reiss, Professor Lynx. Top row, right to left: Jared Napier, Kendra Kreie, Matt Vagts, Matt Koch (not in the band anymore, but whatev), Crystal Vagts, Jared Fischer, Bill Monroe and Ryan Gambrell.

VAIL, Colorado “Cramming a bunch of musicians and tons of instruments onto a small stage is something Lion Vibes, who plays in Vail Friday, excels at. The Denver-based reggae band has eight members and even more instruments, including a live horn section.

“it can get crazy, absolutely,” said Ryan Gambrell, the band’s bassist and an Eagle County native, though he now lives in Denver.

Thankfully, the stage at the Sandbar has a bigger stage than some of the places where the band has played, Gambrell said. At one show the band played on its California tour, only half the band fit on the stage ” the horn section performed across the room.

“Sometimes we have to get creative on how we set up,” he said.

Tonights performance in Vail marks the Lion Vibes fourth time playing at the Sandbar. They previously opened for reggae artists Eek-A-Mouse and Anthony B.

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“They’re arguably the strongest Colorado-based reggae band,” said Dick Dime, the talent buyer for the Sandbar. “They’re definitely a legitimate headliner (band) ” they really know how to have a good time.

“At Eek-A-Mouse they just tore it up so by the time Eek-A-Mouse hit the stage, the audience was putty in his hands.”

Recently the band opened for The Wailers show at Cervantes, one of the premiere venues in Denver, said Gambrell, 25, who joined Lion Vibes just over a year ago. A few weeks later they opened for Soja, a popular Washington D.C.-based reggae band.

“Certainly when big reggae acts come through, we’re one of the first bands that gets asked to support those bands,” Gambrell said.

And the band jumps at the opportunity to open for big-name reggae artists, as it exposes their music to loads of potential fans.

“At Cervantes, out of the 500 people there, there were probably 450 people who hadn’t heard us before,” Gambrell said. “It’s a great way to continue to get more fans.”

The description of Lion Vibes sound varies greatly depending on which band member you ask. Gambrell describes the band’s sound as essentially roots reggae, with some hip hop elements incorporated on occasion. They’ve even been known to perform a reggae version of a Black Sabbath song.

“We call it ‘ragga-funk.’ It’s very high-energy music … we like to keep the crowd involved and the energy up,” he said.

Dime agreed, calling the band’s sound “traditional, but it has a lot of roots to it.”

Along with playing extensively throughout Colorado this summer, the band will take its sound to the Hawaiian Islands for two weeks in July.

“Reggae music is island music, and even though it’s a completely different ocean from Jamaica, its wildly popular over there,” Gambrell said.

So far the band plans on performing a live radio set, along with around 10 gigs on Mahi, Oahu and Hawaii.

“It’ll be a big stepping stone for us,” said Gambrell, who also mentioned the band plans to record its third album in the fall.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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