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Ring in the spring

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VAIL ” Of all the major events happening in Vail these days, it’s Spring Back to Vail that’s generating the most buzz.

Excited chatter has surrounded the two-week celebration of music, parties, skiing and snowboarding for the past month, as people try to predict, via the grapevine, the spring event’s lineup of musicians.

The rumor mill has spun like crazy, churning out names such as the Counting Crows, Ziggy Marley, Beck and James Blunt.



The anticipation is well deserved. In the past, Highline Sports and Entertainment, the event’s producer, has booked acts big for mainstream America, let alone the happy valley. Spring Back to Vail has hosted Blues Traveler, Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys, Toots and the Maytals and Snoop Dogg, among others.

For Spring Back’s seventh season, which runs from April 3-April 16, MTV Network’s high definition channel, MHD, is joining forces with Highline to turn the party up a notch. MHD will film Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8, for a one-hour show featuring Spring Back to Vail exclusively. The channel will film the entire spring celebration, from the crowd to the bands to the skiing, said James Deighan, founder of Highline Sports and Entertainment.



“They want to capture the vibrancy of Spring Back to Vail and the lifestyle of Vail itself,” Deighan said. “It’s an excellent, amazing thing. To have a one-hour show on any MTV network is unprecedented.”

G. Love and Special Sauce will kick off Spring Back to Vail’s concert lineup April 7 at Ford Park. Tickets go on sale today. G. Love, born in Philadelphia as Garrett Dutton, calls his music “hip-hop blues,” and he sings about love, life, breakups and family. The self-titled release in 1994 put the group on the music map, with hits like “Cold Beverages” and “Baby’s Got Sauce” quickly becoming household party tunes. James “Jimi Jazz” Prescott on upright bass and Jeffrey “The Houseman” Clemens on drums form G. Love’s Special Sauce.

On Saturday, April 8, San Diego’s hard rock four-piece P.O.D. (Payable on Death) takes the stage. The group’s sound encompasses jazz, reggae and Latin with a rock delivery, often compared to Korn and 311. P.O.D.’s song “Good-bye For Now” has played on MTV’s “TRL” show.



Dirty Dozen Brass Band is also scheduled to perform, but who will headline the following weekend, April 14-15, is still something of a wild card. The presence of MTV Networks increases the chances of seeing bigger national acts than in years prior.

“We hope MTV Networks pulls a rabbit out of their hat and helicopters somebody in a few days prior,” Deighan said.

Spring Back to Vail is doubling the party exposure in Vail Village this year, Deighan said. Instead of the same old pub crawl festivities, Spring Back is hosting themed soirees like “Surf and Suds” and “Retro Ragers.”

“There was a strong contingency dressed in retro outfits throughout town and all of Spring Back last year,” Deighan said. “There was a posse of about 40 dressed in one pieces, old-school gators and headbands. It seems to be a popular theme in the Vail Valley, so we thought let’s invite everyone to come out and do it.”

New this year, the Bacardi Red Hot Road Trip Party will roll through various bars, giving away swag. The Spring Back Mountain Patrol will hand out Koozies and other essential spring party tools on the mountain, as well.

“There’s a lot bigger giveaways this year,” Deighan said. “There’s a major Crossroads giveaway that’s unprecedented, and we’ll be giving some lucky girls backstage access to hang with G. Love.”

Also new this year on Thursday, April 6, is the Streetwater Fashion Show and after-party at Samana Lounge in Vail Village.

“Streetwater is an internet art house, streetwatergallery.com, that goes worldwide April 1,” said local Greg Spielberg, who along with fellow local David Dean founded the company. “It’s intended to promote artists and give them international exposure. You find a lot of people who do awesome photography or painting in their spare time but not as a career. They don’t have time to market or spread the word about their creation and that’s where Streetwater comes in.”

On the runway will be spring lines by Blitz, Golden Bear, Billabong, Roxy, P.E. 101 and Lacy’s. Streetwater artists’ work will also be available for purchase.

Malay Day is back, along with a Warren Miller screening of a special film made exclusively for Spring Back to Vail, which, in addition to ski footage, will feature scenes from last year’s Spring Back party.

Everyone’s favorite World Pond Skimming Championships return Saturday, April 15. The chance to compete sold out in four days, Deighan said, which speaks to the event’s popularity.

Skiers and snowboarders ” dressed like Gilligan, painted in green or other crazy ensembles to attract judges’ attention ” come from around the world to attempt to ski across the pond at the base of Golden Peak.

This year, as contestants try with all their might not to crash into the sub-zero water, Easter eggs filled with prizes will shoot their way. Those who can catch them while skiing across the pond will have a chance to win anything from a pair of skis to $100. Olympic bronze medalist Toby Dawson will reward the prizes.

As much as the event attracts tourists, Spring Back to Vail serves as the official locals’ farewell to another season on the slopes, and with the many characters who fill the valley, it never fails to be an explosive goodbye.

For a complete schedule of Spring Back to Vail or to purchase concert tickets, visit http://www.springbacktovail.com.

Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14640, or cpence@vaildaily.com.


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