Hungry for soul music in Vail
VAIL, Colorado – Drag out the bell-bottoms, puka shell necklaces, headbands and legwarmers. If you were around in the ’50s, think Fats Domino; the ’60s, Sam Cook. Then bring on Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Aretha and Motown.Put it altogether and you “got soul.” And soul music lovers can get their groove on at the Vail Soul Music Fest being held this weekend in Vail.It’s a first for the town more known for its extraordinary, yet more sedate Bravo! and Vail International Dance Festivals. “There are consumers here who are hungry for this music,” said Rhonda Jackson, the event producer. “We have chosen artists who have been in the business for awhile and just haven’t received their due. For instance, there are a limited number of soul stations in Colorado. So many of these artists travel to both the East and West Coasts, but miss our state.”I want this festival to be a place where people come from all over to find beautiful synergy between their passion for environment for culture and music and I want to create a full experience where people can get out and play. I feel that Vail is a magnificent place and that its amphitheater is the perfect venue.”
The two-day festival, which kicks off Friday, will showcase some up-and-coming independent soul music artists, as well as renowned, award-winning soul music headliners including three-time Grammy nominee Raphael Saadiq, Grammy nominee Chrisette Michele, songwriter, producer and musician Dwele, emerging artist Liv Warfield and budding local Colorado musician, Jonathan B. Vailite T. Leon, winner of the “Show your Love” contest, will also perform. “Look for artists that run the gamut in honoring the musical art form,” Jackson said. “We looked for artists that know their history and take their art form seriously. Soul music was born thanks to the innovations of musicians who combined the genres of gospel music, jazz and the blues. This combination of music soon made up everything from rock to funk to hip-hop. In fact, the Dazz Band, which will perform Saturday night, grew out of a Cleveland jazz-fusion band and was named “Dazz” to connote “danceable jazz.””We got a recording contract with 20th Century Fox in 1978, and Marvin Gay was our first producer,” said Bobby Harris, one of the bands founders.”In 1980 we went to Motown, changed our sound around and had great success with the song, ‘Let it Whip,’ for which we won a Grammy for the Best R&B Performance,” he said.
According to Jackson, soul encompasses many art forms, but at its core it tells a story that lives on from generation to generation. “The music encompasses funk, soul, neo-soul and hip-hop,” Jackson said. “Neo-soul pays homage to the classic soul and puts a current day spin to the art of soul.”Harris agrees but, like many in the industry, doesn’t agree with categorizing the generes. Most just want to be known simply as soul musicians.”If you listen to ’60s and ’70s rock, that music had more blues,” Harris said. “It was more like funk. It was very danceable. Then Billboard Magazine and Cashbox began creating categories as a marketing tool. “Funk is soul, soul is funk and funk and soul is blues. Blues is jazz. It’s all about chord progression,” he said.And Jackson’s goal to bring it all to Colorado, and more specifically, to Vail.Jackson and Harris agree that the impact and influence of soul is very evident in many of today’s artists.”When it comes to soul, everything that’s new today is old,” Harris said. “When you have a Rembrandt, you don’t start coloring it with crayons.”E-mail questions or comments about this story to email@example.com.