Vilar’s Underground Sound series brings an off-season smorgasbord to Beaver Creek |

Vilar’s Underground Sound series brings an off-season smorgasbord to Beaver Creek

Rosanna Turner
Special to the Daily
The Hot Sardines play in Beaver Creek Oct. 12.
Special to the Daily |

if you go …

What: Underground Sound concert series.

When: Every Sunday through Nov. 9. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday: Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk

Oct. 12: The Hot Sardines: Speakeasy Nights

Oct. 19: honeyhoney

Oct. 26: Suzanne Vega

Nov. 2: Nora Jane Struthers and the Party Line

Nov. 9: Storm Large & Le Bonheur

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.

Cost: The Underground Sound pass includes all seven shows for $100. The passes are transferable and include one free drink per show. Individual show prices vary. Pass and ticket holders can enjoy specials at Beaver Creek’s The Met and the Dusty Boot before this Sunday’s show. All pass holders get dinner for two for $35 at the Dusty Boot for all shows starting Oct. 12.

More information: Visit

Someone told you that you could see a world-class circus, a sexy songstress, a cute duo who sound old but are actually brand new, two folk singers with more than one story to tell, a jivin’ jazz band that will take you back to better times and one of the best guitarists still strumming all for less than the cost of a one-day ski ticket, then you might not believe it.

This fall, the Underground Sound series at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek is serving up a smorgasbord of music and entertainment for seven straight weeks. It kicked off Sunday and continues through Nov. 9. Designed to showcase up-and-coming artists who you might not have heard of yet, this year’s lineup is more focused on polished performers who still deserve more time in the spotlight. Kris Sabel, executive director for the Vilar Center, said the series is a chance to hear, and see, something fresh and unexpected.

“I love getting people to say, ‘Hey, I’ll come to seven shows that I don’t know what they are. I’ll find out about something new,’” Sabel said.

Crowd-pleasing players

One of the most anticipated Underground Sound shows this year is Cirque Mechanics’ “Pedal Punk,” which will make its world premiere at the Vilar Center on Sunday. For more on the Cirque Mechanics, check out Saturday’s High Life cover, which will feature the group.

Outside of Cirque Mechanics’ “Pedal Punk,” the rest of the Underground Sound series features music from a variety of genres. The series continues Oct. 12 with The Hot Sardines: Speakeasy Nights. A Hot Sardines show is like taking a trip back in time a la the movie “Midnight in Paris.” Sabel said the group plays in the gypsy jazz style of Django Reinhardt, an influential French guitarist who was popular in the ’30s and ’40s. In addition to instruments, The Hot Sardines have a tap dancer as part of their rhythm section. Make sure to dress in your best zoot suit and wrap your hair up in a snood for this show.

What many like about Underground Sound is that it features musicians who truly know how to tell a story in song. Edwards resident Karin Johnson and her husband bought a pass last year and are looking forward to the series this year. Johnson said seeing a show at the Vilar Center feels like having a concert in your living room.

“Everyone needs to experience the Vilar, and Underground Sound is a great way to experience it,” Johnson said. “Because of the setting, you can really hear the music. You really hear the words the (musicians) are singing and understand the story of it too. Because it’s an intimate setting, they get up close and personal with you.”


Johnson is personally excited about honeyhoney, a twosome from L.A. who are a little bit old-school country and a little bit soulful rock ‘n’ roll. Vocalist and violinist Suzanne Santo and guitarist Ben Jaffe met at a party a few years ago, and a mutual friend suggested they start playing music together. With two albums under their belt and a third in the works, this platonic meet has turned into a full-fledged music career. Honeyhoney said they like to write songs that are “lyric-driven” that feel and sound timeless. Inspiration doesn’t come from today’s headlines, but harkens back to classic tales from the past.

“We’re a slow, simmering band for the most part,” Jaffe said. “When it comes to writing, we take our time.”

Following honeyhoney will be Suzanne Vega, best known for her late ’80s hits “Tom’s Diner” and “Luka.” Sabel said in recent years Vega has gone in a more acoustic direction, and her Underground Sound show is a chance to see the songwriter in a smaller setting.

“(At the Vilar) an artist can just come by themselves in an acoustic format and it’s really just them and the audience,” Sabel said. “It’s about the music and the lyrics and an opportunity for them to share (their story).”

The last of the singer-songwriters will be Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line. Struthers came to Underground Sound a few years ago as the lead singer of Bearfoot. Since then she’s recorded more solo records and formed her band, The Party Line, which is a reference to when an entire town had to share the same phone line and people would often listen in on what their neighbors were doing. Struthers said she’s excited to come back and play for the Beaver Creek crowd.

“(The Vilar) is one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever played in, both sonically and visually,” Struthers said. “I’ve been looking forward to playing my new music in that room. I think it’s going to be a special experience.”

A big voice and even bigger personality

Closing out Underground Sound will be Storm Large & Le Bonheur. Perhaps best know for performing with Pink Martini, Large has a voice that sounds just like her name. A true entertainer with a sensual side, Large can always be counted on to spice up the stage.

“(Her show) is like being at a classy, smoke-filled bar,” Johnson said, who’s seen Large perform live before. “When she sings, she has a really deep throated, sexy sound. This (concert) is going to be a lot of fun.”

Johnson said she enjoys Underground Sound because she likes to be surprised and often discovers new artists she wouldn’t expect to love. At seven shows for only $100, the real question isn’t why one should check out the series this fall, but rather, why not?

“You’re going to be very pleasantly surprised in what you’re going to see and what you’re going to hear,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of great talent they bring to Underground Sound. What do you have to lose?”

Well, you won’t lose your voice singing along to every song because you probably won’t know what the musicians on stage are going to play next. At Underground Sound, that’s the best part.

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