Concert series back at Howelsen

Los Lobos, John Hiatt will headline acts

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Last year, the air was thick and dry with the smell of wildfire smoke, and grasshoppers parted with every step like a Biblical sea, but still people danced. The free summer concert series brought listeners to concerts at both Howelsen Hill and the base of Headwall at Steamboat Ski Area.

The organizers of the series hope to create the same energy this year with a six-concert lineup that includes shows by John Hiatt, the North Mississippi All Stars and Los Lobos.

"We wanted to make the series as diverse as possible," Joe Kboudi said. "We look at everything from blues to bluegrass to classic rock."

They chose Los Lobos because of the wide scope of people who will be attracted to their music.

"They are a very revered band," Kboudi said. "And they are in our price range."

Los Lobos is best known for its remake of "La Bamba" for "La Bamba," a movie about the life of Ritchie Valens. But Los Lobos has a much deeper musical background.

According to an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, the four-member band from East Los Angeles started playing together at a political time when the Brown Berets and the Chicano Power movement fought for pride in the Latino community.

Los Lobos played the most revolutionary music available to them -- traditional Mexican music. It was the punk rock audience that embraced Los Lobos and, in 1982, they were signed to Slash Records, a label founded by the Los Angeles punk Slash Magazine.

Kboudi believes the mix of traditional ethnic influence and experimental instrumentation will attract an audience from the young to the old.

Los Lobos will play Aug. 6 at Howelsen Hill.

The free summer music concert series will open with John Hiatt at Headwall on June 25.

The folk/rock band features Louisiana slide guitarist Sonny Landreth.

North Mississippi All Stars were a good band for a good price and will play at Howelsen on July 12, Kboudi said.

Price is a big consideration when choosing a band, Kboudi said. The concert committee collects donations from downtown and mountain businesses, banks and the chamber, combined with money from the city of Steamboat Springs and beer and vendor sales to fund the free series.

Beverage sales are a key financial source for the series, covering one-third of the costs, Kboudi said.

"We try to bring in the best talent for the money we have," he said. The concert committee has yet to sign bands for two concerts over the Labor Day weekend and for a concert in mid August.

It hopes to have a decision made by mid-June, Kboudi said.

The series began 10 years ago as the brainchild of music storeowner Kboudi and Great Knight Productions' John Waldman. The first concert happened on the lawn of the Routt County Courthouse with Wind Machine and Robin Ford.

"It was fun, but it was crowded," Kboudi said. "We were spilling into the streets."

Five years ago, the series moved to its current location at Howelsen Hill with a show by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Three years ago, Kboudi and Waldman partnered with the Steamboat Springs Arts Council to continue the series' yearly expansion.

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