Photo by Matt Stensland

Margaret Hair: Band from Austin outplays audience

Band of Heathens gives great show

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If you go

What: Reckless Kelly, w/ The Gougers, part of MusicFest

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Steamboat Music Festival Tent, Knoll Parking Lot

Cost: $10

Call: 879-0740 or go to www.steamboat.com...

What: The Band of Heathens, opening for Sam Bush and Todd Snider

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Steamboat Music Festival Tent, Knoll Parking Lot

Cost: $20

Call: 879-0740 or go to www.steamboat.com...

Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

Toward the end of the Austin, Texas, rock group's set at Friday's MusicFest finale concert, The Band of Heathens threw out a cover of The Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling."

It was an incredibly competent Beatles cover, complete with the roaring vocal harmonies and expert guitar playing that characterize The Band of Heathens. And it fell on a mostly dismissive crowd that was ready to see Reckless Kelly and Cross Canadian Ragweed, the bands audience members apparently came for.

That's too bad, because The Band of Heathens boasts three amazing singers/songwriters/guitarists in Colin Brooks, Gordy Quist and Ed Jurdi. The three musicians trade lead-singing and guitar responsibilities on each song, with each taking on multiple instruments and boasting some serious playing chops.

The trio's best lines - "I've got my heart strapped to my sleeve / I've got my sleeve tucked in my jeans / I've got my jeans stuffed in my boots / I've got my boots walking back to you" - went mostly unnoticed by the hundreds of people scattered throughout the Steamboat Music Tent.

And the not so good ones - "I need your cornbread everyday," in the thinly veiled innuendo of "Cornbread" - got a few clusters of fans singing along.

In every way other than the occasional use of lapsteel and slice-of-life lyrics, The Band of Heathens is a rock band. Most likely, the group will fit better on its Ski Jam bill on Friday, when it'll share the stage with Todd Snider and Sam Bush, than it did as an opener for Reckless Kelly and Cross Canadian Ragweed.

The Band of Heathens didn't get the reception it deserved from its MusicFest audience. What that audience did get right was its excitement for Reckless Kelly.

That five-piece band, also from Austin, has made getting an audience revved up into a science. In an interview before the band's 2008 MusicFest set, fiddle, mandolin and harmonica player Cody Braun described his band's live energy as "rock 'n' roll with a fiddle" that packs a punk-rock delivery.

As the gaps in the Music Tent crowd disappeared in the minutes before Reckless Kelly started playing, the appeal of that delivery was clear. And as about half the crowd was singing along by the third song, it was obvious Reckless Kelly's 12 years of honing its live set have paid off.

The band plays with The Gougers - again, from Austin - in a MusicFest extended set concert 7 p.m. Sunday at the Steamboat Music Festival Tent. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available online at www.steamboat.com/concerts.

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

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