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More than a cover band

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
HL Jonny Mogambo 01 TS 05-04-08
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The live music scene has changed a lot since Jonathan Lindner (a.ka. Jonny Mogambo) first started gigging in Colorado during the early ’90s. Back then live music was exploding all over Colorado, and he wanted to add to the heat, he said. He started playing local clubs like Garfinkel’s and theaters in Boulder. Although live music is still alive and well in Vail, the rise of the DJ and the loss of major music venues like 8150 and State Bridge has cooled the once “hot” scene down, Mogambo said.

“The reason I moved to Vail … was because I thought it had the best music scene out of any of the other ski towns,” Mogambo said. But after playing for nearly two decades, he concluded “It’s just not as consistent as it used to be.”

Live music venues may be fading from the valley’s landscape like the green hue of local pine trees, but the long-time apre-ski entertainer isn’t worried. He works too hard and loves his job too much to let a little snag like that bother him.

Mogambo and his band just released a new CD called “Songs For Lovers, Drunks and Politicians,” and they’re scheduled to tour through other regions of Colorado as well as Texas, Illinois and Canada this summer.

“There’s definitely some politically-charged content on there if you listen to it,” Mogambo said.

Not that he thinks of himself as an activist, though. Mogambo knows his audience wants to hear funky rock and roll and have a good time. Still, his heart is in his music, which often becomes an outlet for what’s on his mind, he said.

Mogambo’s new album is nothing like the cover-song fare he treats apre-ski crowds to during the winter months. All the songs on the CD are original, written by Mogambo and his band (Kyle Comerford on drums, Matt Spencer on bass, Andrew Vogt on sax and Ben Haugland on keys). Mogambo said there are some obstacles when it comes to getting fans to see him as a serious artist and not just some mountain-town entertainer, but he’s confident that once they see the Jonny Mogambo Band live or hear their CD, they will have no choice but to believe. Capturing that live show experience on the album is the ultimate goal of the band.

“It’s high energy, it’s good to dance to, there’s a connection with the audience,” Mogambo said.

Andrew Vogt has been playing sax with Mogambo for the past six years and said the combination is still fresh enough to keep the band interested in playing. A jazz player at heart, Vogt likes the original songs as well as the freedom to improvise on classic cover songs. The fact that all the band members are friends makes it easy to work and record together too, Vogt said.

The new album is a good addition to the bands collection, he said.

“I had a ball making it with Jonny … he did a great job putting it together. (It’s a) nice mix of different tunes, it’s a lot of fun,” Vogt said.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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