Shakin’ at the Basin Spring Concert Series begins Saturday, April 30, with Coral Creek
IF YOU GO ...
What: Shakin’ at the Basin Spring Concert Series.
When: All concerts run from 1 to 4 p.m.
• Saturday, April 30: Coral Creek
• Saturday, May 7: The Robby Wicks Band
• Saturday, May 14: Bonnie & the Clydes
• Saturday, May 21: The Railsplitters
• Saturday, May 28: ’80s Rock New Sensation
• Saturday, June 4: Whitewater Ramble
• Sunday, Jun 5: High Five
Where: Base Area, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, 28194 U.S. Highway 6, Keystone.
More information: Visit arapahoebasin.com/events.
KEYSTONE — As music has evolved, it is no longer easy to categorize a band’s genre. Music reflecting different artists’ influences meshes together to create variations of every genre. In bluegrass, the style has now branched from traditional to include progressive, jamgrass and even newgrass. It’s no different for up-and-coming Colorado band Coral Creek, whose music blends together Americana, country, bluegrass, folk and island music, along with a variety of musicians from different backgrounds and bands.
“Creatively, the chemistry is very good,” said Chris Thompson, songwriter and guitarist for Coral Creek. “The backgrounds of each of the players are quite diverse, but have a lot of concentric circles around the bluegrass and the jam band and sort of old country rock stuff.”
Coral Creek will hit the new stage at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area for the season’s first Shakin’ at the Basin Spring Concert Series show on Saturday. The concerts are free in the base area, and music runs from 1 to 4 p.m.
In the Beginning
The original version of Coral Creek began when Thompson and his wife moved to the Virgin Islands in 2005, creating an album of island tunes called “Living on Vacation,” which became the first underground release of the band Coral Creek in 2007. The band’s music and members changed throughout the years, eventually adding Bill McKay to create the “modern era of the band,” Thompson said.
“The band went through some personnel changes over the first few years, and it’s really come out as Coral Creek 2.0 here at the beginning of 2015 when Bill McKay and I started playing together, and sort of rebuilt the band around two male vocalists; piano-, guitar-fronted band,” he said.
McKay is known for his roles with Leftover Salmon and Derek Trucks Band. The singer and keyboardist joined Derek Trucks Band in 1995, touring and recording with the group for five years. After moving back to Colorado in 2000 — where he had attended college in the ’80s — he picked up with Leftover Salmon before recently joining up with Thompson.
“Bill, like me, grew up as a Dead Head in the ’90s, ’80s, and he’s more of a rock and blues guy, but 10 years with Leftover Salmon you’re going to develop some pretty good bluegrass chops,” Thompson said.
Luke Bulla comes from a traditional bluegrass and country background, playing in Nashville for the past 15 years. Earning a Grammy award with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, the fiddle player has also toured with Lyle Lovett as a singer and violinist.
About Coral Creek’s Newest Album
The band recently released a self-titled album with executive producer Tim Carbone, of Railroad Earth.
“Tim Carbone’s a damn good producer,” Thompson said. “I think the music serves the songs, and I credit him a lot for that, because my own inclination is to let the jamming stretch on more than it ought to for a record.”
There are nine original songs on the album, plus a Neil Young cover. Thompson said he particularly enjoys that there is a lot of piano on it.
“Bill is a ridiculously good piano player, so to have the piano be featured more than it has been on past albums, I really enjoyed. I think that captures the sound of our live performances now, Bill’s piano playing is a big part of our sound today.”
Coral Creek is in the writing process for more recordings, and Thompson said they plan to get into the studio this winter for an expected EP release in 2017.
Heroes look like these guys: Bill “Sarge” Brown, Bob Parker, Pete Seibert, Sandy Treat, Dick Over, Hugh Evans and so many others from the 10th Mountain Division who helped win World War II and, while building the peace, also built the ski industry in the United States.