Music and mountains go together like … well, bread and butter. OK, so it’s clichÃ©, but events like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, or the Mozart Festival in Salzburg, Austria show it’s true, and one of the hottest trends in Colorado mountain towns is to blow out the end of the ski season with big-name artists headlining slopeside concerts.
Part of the deal is to try drum up some business for the ski areas during a season when visits traditionally start to trail off. With shirtsleeve weather in Boulder and Denver, those hardcore skiers and boarders who couldn’t wait to ski back in October are busy dusting off their golf clubs and greasing up the chains of their mountain bikes.
Whatever the reason, we all benefit when Breckenridge brings Ozomatli to town (April 22), or when Keller Williams helps wind down a perfect ski spring day at Copper Mountain. That was the case just this past Sunday, when Williams rocked the house at the resort’s Burning Stones Plaza just in time for apres ski.
As Williams started his groove, a fat half-moon rose over the Tenmile Range, taking its time, as if reluctant to intrude on the warmth of fine spring afternoon. Flowing skirts swirled and beach balls and bungee jumpers bopped to the tunes, as Williams, a one-man jam band, set up his loops and busted out his best mountain tunes.
Williams has developed a strong following in the mountains, (he’s playing in Bozeman April 27 at the Emerson and in Missoula April 28 at the University of Montana) and it’s easy to see why. Not every artist features his snowboard on stage, and even fewer include songs in their repertoire about riding up a gondola. But even more than that, Williams has developed a style that, for me, takes music out of the audio realm. Music magically becomes shape and movement as he works his electronic instruments, feeding the yelps and claps from the crowd back into his sound loop.
Hitting Copper Mountain for the next to last weekend of the Sunsation Festival, Williams was fresh off a big Conscious Alliance show and food drive at Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium, benefiting the Metro CareRing emergency assistance center of Denver.
The music is a liberating blend of techno-bluegrass-funk and country, as when he covers Tom Petty, but even that description fall short. Better to think of Willliams as the digital version of the one-man bands of old, the guy on the street corner with cymbals attached to his feet, a big bass drum on his back and an accordion around his neck.
Or even better, check out some of Williams’ tracks and find your own groove!