Xavier Rudd performs in Vail Saturday | VailDaily.com

Xavier Rudd performs in Vail Saturday

Caramie Schnellcschnell@vaildaily.comVAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyVail is the final stop on Xavier Rudd's five-week U.S. tour. A few places he visited stand out in his mind, he said. "Denver was righteous; Austin, Texas was great. San Francisco was wicked. And Niagra Falls was amazing - we had a mob come out and welcome us."

Pro kayaker Tanya Faux knows right where she’ll be at 7 p.m. Saturday. Watching her countryman Xavier Rudd on stage in Vail, and likely singing along with him, albeit from the audience. “I’ll have front row seats, I reckon,” said the Australian paddler who is in town to compete at the Teva Mountain Games for the fifth year in a row. “I’ll definitely be cheering and singing along because I’m quite familiar with his lyrics. Hopefully other people in the crowd will be too.”Rudd’s in town to entertain the Teva Mountain Games masses and Saturday night’s performance marks his first time playing Vail. Faux has seen Rudd perform a handful of times in Australia, including a show in Melvin in 2002 after he released his first album, “To Let.” “He’s a very soulful musician,” she said. “His lyrics are quite meaningful… and his ability to play all sorts of instruments is quite incredible.”Indeed, attendees at tonight’s show will likely see Rudd sing and play some combination of guitar, harmonica, didgeridoo, banjo, lapsteel, djembe drums and more. The result is musically-rich as much as it’s globally-influenced. It’s a blend of reggae, funk, blues, folk, African rhythms and more. Rudd has even included Aboriginal vocals in some of his songs. “He makes such a full sound by himself,” said Vail resident Kelly Payton who has seen him perform three times. “It’s awesome, very percussive music.”

The last time Rudd toured the U.S. it was with two South African musicians: bassist Tio Moloantoa and percussionist Andile Nqubezelo under the unified banner of Xavier Rudd & Inzintaba. The trio put out an album, “Koonyum Sun”; Rudd called the experience “the most inspirational musical experience of my life.”The musicians musical, spiritual, and emotional connection helped carry Rudd thorugh a rough patch in his life – namely the end of his 10-year marriage.”They basically held me up,” he said. “They were such strong spirits to have around me during such a traumatic time.”This time around, Rudd is touring solo (it’s his first solo tour of the U.S. in four years), which he said is “very different.””It commands more of my attention,” he said. “I have to make a lot more sound, and do more stuff on stage. But I’ve been enjoying a real intimate connection with the audience. It’s an energy thing – it’s very powerful.”

Despite the fact Rudd has spent the last five weeks on the road, often sleeping in a different town each night, he’s managed to find the time to write some new songs. “I’m heading into the studio to record an album in a few weeks so it’s very much in my mind, in my heart,” he said during a phone interview from Boulder earlier this week. Unlike Rudd’s 2008 album “Dark Shades of Blue,” which was somber and tinged with melancholy, he promised this upcoming album will be noticeably lighter.”It’s going to be a sunny record – bright and bubbly and full of sunshine,” the Australian native said. So why is Rudd feeling so sunny?”I just feel good,” he said. I’m giving thanks to the universe every day – for my journey, the places I’ve been, the hardships I’ve conquered and for my two beautiful boys who are (age) 11 and 5.”Rudd sounds pretty relaxed for someone who has been traveling nonstop for more than a month. What keeps him balanced?”My music keeps me pretty centered,” he said. “I do some yoga and I’m very aware of energy and just sort of filtering good and bad energy. It’s a bit of a balance you learn over time. I’ve been touring for about a dozen years now so I’m pretty used to it.”Depending on where Rudd is in the world, he sees cultural differences among the people splayed out before him, but some things never change.”I have good people come to my shows all over the world,” he said. “I have really, really good people who care about change, care about the greater good and I find that everywhere I go.”High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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