Maybe, just maybe, a hip-hop scene is making its way into Steamboat Springs.
Or at least there are some good shows here and there.
On New Year's Eve at the Rio, Tony "Kat 'N Tha Hat" Counts ripped off a great set backed by agile beats from DJ von Funk. (Disclaimer: the von Funk is my housemate. He practices quite a bit - sometimes I hear turntables spinning in my dreams - but I love hearing the real thing. The man knows dance music. He spins a hot-pink record while wearing hot-pink sneakers.)
Counts' rhymes are clever and quick, sometimes local, sometimes made up on the spot. It's refreshing to hear entertaining hip hop at a venue in Steamboat, even if a brawl did break out after midnight. (Maybe some people thought they were at a punk show. Or a cage match.) Tony, please play more shows.
On Jan. 10, the New Orleans-based E.O.E., or Equal Opportunity Employment, drew a big weeknight crowd to Mahogany Ridge for some Latin-infused jazz, reggae and hip hop. Rapper Koan brings a different style than Counts, with a flood of words that blitz out of the mic and blur individual syllables into undecipherable, if catchy, rhythms. If Counts raps like good Scotch - smoothly hard-hitting with a lengthy aftermath that makes you think - Koan raps like a shot of tequila with an espresso chaser. Or a like a hammer blow to the head.
You can catch a couple words here and there at the start of a sentence, then Koan loses you. But even if you aren't hearing his words, you're hearing his rhythm, and that gets the crowd moving. Again, a rare kind of show in Steamboat.
E.O.E. has a big local support group, so specifics about the band aren't necessary - except for the new bass player. A tall, shaggy guy wearing tube socks, no shoes and sweatpants on stage, the man with little regard for fashion shows big regard for the bass, and proves worthy of E.O.E. stylings.
Tonight offers another chance to see talented, live hip hop in Steamboat. The Always Talk to Strangers Tour at Wired Lounge, featuring underground acts Mac Lethal and Grieves and local artists Andrew Lindsley and Brandon Norwick, looks to be a strong show. At the very least, it's another step in an encouraging trend of rap performances on local stages.
Here's hoping the trend continues.