Free concerts close out ski season

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— To celebrate the end of a successful six-month ski season, horns, drums and guitars will ring through the peaks and valleys of Steamboat for the annual Tequiza Rocks the 'Boat four-week long concert series.

As the days begin to heat up and the snow begins to melt, the free concerts in Gondola Square from 3:30 to 5:30 on successive Friday and Saturday afternoons will headline national and regional bands with diverse musical backgrounds from March 23 through April 15.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation, with help from Great Knight Productions, for the first year, has created a way to kick off spring while enjoying aprski and the outdoors.

"The idea was to create a way to enhance the spring skiing experience," said John Waldman of Great Knight Productions. "We want to give people on the Front Range and local tourists a festive atmosphere."

The open-air concert venue on 5,000 square feet of new deck space will present Yo, Flaco! and The Young Dubliners this weekend.

Kicking off the event Friday afternoon, the hip-hop, jazz, soul and R and B sounds from the eight-piece band Yo, Flaco! make their way to the 'Boat after winning the Jim Beam "Best Unsigned Band in America" in 2000.

"Yo, Flaco! has much more of a hip-hop and jazz flavor" than many other bands, Waldman said.

Yo, Flaco!'s creative blend of jazz and hip-hop make a somber audience come alive with their individual genre of music, with an influence from The Roots.

Stuck with a Latin label accompanied by only two Latin-style songs, Yo, Flaco! realized their desire to produce a soul jazz and hip-hop record will take precedence over a tarnished reputation as a Latin band.

"We started as a Latin band but it was a little too smooth. Musically, we weren't happy," said Matt Piazza on keyboards.

With a $3,000 Jim B.E.A.M. (Benefiting Emerging Artists in Music) grant, Yo, Flaco! (Puerto Rican slang for "What's up skinny?") continues down the road writing lyrics, playing familiar tunes from "Skeptamistic" and creating new tunes for their next CD.

After playing at a large venue in Austin, Texas, last week, Yo, Flaco!'s 40-minute set made some representatives from record labels turn their heads and listen.

"We'll just keep doing what we're doing and hope something comes along one day," Piazza said of the band's hope for a record signing.

The silver lining on the dark cloud finally is giving light to this Denver-based band who has gone through as many Yo, Flaco! wannabe artists as they have had tour dates in the three years the band has been in existence.

"We've thought about adding a DJ, but we're different that way. We've moved in a hip-hop direction but bringing more of a jazz influence," Piazza said. "Please, no more people."

With a stable, yet electrifying line up for the last year, the exclamation point at the end of the name points to the adrenalin-seeking junkies that dig the high energy style.

While the Latin reputation may be swept right out the door for Yo, Flaco!, The Young Dubliners will gladly take pride in their Irish roots accompanied by an American twist of rock 'n' roll.

A mandolin, tin whistle, fiddle and flute accompany the typical band instruments to create a Irish/American blend of ballads, moods and fused energy.

While officials of the Ski Corp. said they were trying to target 20-somethings for the Rocks the 'Boat concert series, there's also new young blood for The Young Dubs (as they are affectionately called).

Constructing their new album "Red," The Young Dubs added two new members, so that now, it finally feels right, said Keith Roberts, founding father of the band.

"On 'Red' we took a huge jump to move us even further that way," Roberts said of his inexperience in the studio. "We had a chance to get our studio chops together."

Having recently finished their latest album "Red" in June 2000,

Their latest release, "Red," includes the energetic sounds of acoustic guitar player and lead singer Keith Roberts, drummer David Ingraham, bassist Bren Holmes, guitarist Bob Boulding and multi-instrumentalists Jeff Dellisanti and Mark Epting.

"Red' is a million miles away from other stuff," Roberts said.

The highlights of the album include hits with help from Elton John's songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. With "Red" being on the Virgin Records label, opening with Jethro Tull and continuing to tour with him in the United States and in Europe, the word-of-mouth tactic has allowed The Young Dubs to outlive any Los Angeles band that was established during the early '90s.

Although both Roberts and Holmes have solid roots in Ireland, The Young Dubs have tied their roots to rock 'n' roll with an Irish influence.

"Basically, it's the Irish instrumentation that gives it a flare. It's a unique sound," Roberts said. "That 's one of the reasons we made it in L.A."

The competitive entertaining field that Los Angeles is, actually helped The Young Dubs get small gigs in Irish pubs, then expand.

While they do know a few Irish ballads that they play with their own twists, the band probably will play more hits from their previous four albums than give the audience an Irish toast.

"It will be nice to be doing an outdoor festival," Roberts said about Tequiza Rocks the 'Boat.

Sponsored by Tequiza, the concert series is produced by Great Knight Productions and presented by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation.

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