Texas acts Wheeler Brothers, Suzanna Choffel to play Chief Theater on Friday | SteamboatToday.com

Texas acts Wheeler Brothers, Suzanna Choffel to play Chief Theater on Friday

Andy Bockelman

— Residents of Northwest Colorado who have spent time in Texas will be glad to see this weekend's entertainment headliners, but you don't have to be from the Lone Star State to appreciate the music in store for Steamboat.

The Wheeler Brothers and Suzanna Choffel, both originally from Austin, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Chief Theater. The show will be the first visit to Steamboat for solo singer-songwriter Choffel, a former acquaintance of Chief Executive Director Tamara Beland.

"We go way back to our days in Austin, when I was teaching at a school she was running," Choffel said. "She's been putting a bug in my ear for a while to come out to Colorado, and I have a lot of fans out there, but it was always not in the routing plans to start touring more extensively. It'll be nice to get out of New York into beautiful Colorado."

Choffel appeared on the third season of NBC singing competition "The Voice" in fall 2012 and received an Independent Music Award nomination for her album "Steady Eye Shaky Bow." She has played a number of the same festivals as the Wheeler Brothers, but the two acts take their folk-based sound in different directions.

Drummer Patrick Wheeler said the pairing of their music should complement each other well.

"It'll be different, but I like that," he said. "If you put seven punk rock bands together, they'll all sound the same, but if you get some more diverse kinds of music, you'll have a show that's more fun."

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The Wheeler Brothers quintet appeared twice in Steamboat last year for MusicFest and OktoberWest. Since then, the group released its second album, "Gold Boots Glitter," a wholly new sound compared with previous album "Portraits."

"It's a little more all over the place," Wheeler said. "As a group, we have some very broad tastes, so this was a good way to get everybody's collective interests together."

Wheeler said the show will incorporate an "ebb and flow" of older and newer songs.

"We've had a really good fan response to 'Gold Boots Glitter,'" lap steel guitarist A.J. Moyineaux said. "We were first playing some of the songs on it when we were on tour last year, and then it took about a year to record the album, so it's been cool to watch the progression for people listening to us."

Moyineaux added that his favorite track is "Struggle with It All You Like" for the guitar hook it contains.

All the group members are anticipating the Friday show.

"Suzanna is an Austin staple, so it'll be great to reconnect with her," Moyineaux said. "Besides Texas, I think we've toured Colorado more than anywhere else, and it'll be great to be there in the summertime."

The Chief may be a smaller venue than some the band is booked for — such as music festival Lollapalooza, where the group will play in August — but Wheeler is certain the show will be no less of a rocking good time.

"We tour all over the country in places of every size, and that's all part of the adventure," he said. "We always give 110 percent."

Q-and-A with Suzanna Choffel

Explore Steamboat: How long have you been performing professionally?

Suzanna Choffel: I've been performing more or less my whole life, but professionally as a musician about eight or nine years, maybe around 10. I was always musical, but I got more into it in college, started studying music. I was kind of a diehard fan of so many musicians, and I went to so many shows, I knew there was nothing else I really wanted to do. I grew up in a very musical household, and it was something that was definitely encouraged, so the bug bit me.

ES: You were a contestant on Season 3 of NBC's "The Voice" and worked with country star Blake Shelton while on the show. How has that experience impacted your career?

SC: It was amazing for exposure, and I feel like it helped me gain a bit more momentum at a time when I kind of needed it, which was great. Being on reality TV is always kind of strange — it makes you look at yourself in a strange lens because you're being judged by this whole other group of people. Blake was a very sweet, genuine guy, and I don't think he understood me musically because I'm not a country artist, but I think we vibed well together, and he respected me.

ES: What can an audience unfamiliar with your music expect?

SC: My music is somewhere between folk, soul and pop. It's kind of hard to define it into a niche, but I do a mix of low-key, folksier songs and some that have reggae and world influence that are more upbeat and some straight pop-rock influences. It'll be a variety of stuff, but there's a lot of husky, sweet soul, and I think that defines me more than anything.

ES: Your website likens you to artists such as Feist, Petula Clark, Lulu and Dusty Springfield, and it was a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" that landed you a spot on "The Voice." What other musical names have influenced your style?

SC: Digging deeper, back into my childhood, I listened to a lot of Motown, Stevie Wonder. I loved Roberta Flack, plus a lot of folk, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, John Denver, stuff like that. When I was in college, I really got into world music, so you'll hear a bit of Bob Marley influence, and I sang a Bob Marley song on “The Voice,” that's the one I went out on. Some people were surprised by that, but if you know my music, you know I'm very into the syncopation and the heart and soul that's in reggae.

ES: You're planning to work on a third album this year, following 2006's "Shudders & Rings" and 2011's "Steady Eye Shaky Bow." Will you be going in the same direction with your material or creating something entirely different?

SC: I think it'll have a similar thread, but I'm really focusing on my voice and capturing a more intimate sound. The first album was intimate and low-key, and my second, I came out real big with the instrumentation and arrangements. Some people loved it, and some said I needed it to be more intimate, so I'd like to split the difference on this album. It'll be kind of a mix of styles.

To reach Andy Bockelman, email abockelman@ExploreSteamboat.com

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