Four solid days to jam

Second annual Ski Jam Music Festival billed with celebrated national acts

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When the South Austin Jug Band released an album more than a year ago, it got people's attention.

They were not only talented but also funny. They were polite boys from Texas with an interesting take on an old genre. Since their album release, they have been playing nonstop, including several shows in Steamboat Springs.

This summer, the South Austin Jug Band appeared in Relix, a magazine of the jam-scene cogniscenti. It was named in the magazine's "On the Verge" section as a band with big things in its future.

This time last year, the South Austin Jug Band was part of the Ski Jam Music Festival, but the band played at the Bear River Bar and Grill as part of the afternoon "After the Hill Chill" concert series. This year, it is a headliner playing in the Ski Jam tent, billed with well-known national acts Keller Williams and Spearhead.

Although Steamboat audiences are familiar with the South Austin Jug Band's sound, singer and guitarist James Hyland said the band has new material. Since it played during the summer's Free Concert Series, the band added a fiddle player and, with him, a series of twin fiddle parts into its songs.

The band is hard at work writing songs for another album and, Hyland said, the group finally is writing songs together.

Hyland will lay down a Bob Wills-inspired traditional track, and the band members each will come in with their influences, scribbling over Hyland's structure, to an interesting end.

South Austin Jug Band plays bluegrass in a style influenced by Western swing, Django Reinhart-style swing and rock 'n' roll.

And for those who haven't seen the group, it is not a jug band. The name came from an old Muppet movie, "Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas."

They have no jug.

South Austin Jug Band will play with the Hot Buttered Rum String Band on Tuesday in a 14,000-square-foot festival tent erected at the base of the ski area, as the headliner of the four-day Ski Jam Music Festival.

Most audience members will have gotten their tickets to the event as part of a week-long ski package.

For the rest of us, there are a limited number of tickets available to be purchased in advance with a small chance that there will be tickets available at the door.

The second annual Ski Jam, featuring bands marketed for the so-called jam band audience, follows on the heels of MusicFest. Like Ski Jam, MusicFest was offered as part of a ski vacation package.

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