Look for an interview with Rusted Root frontman Michael Glabicki in Friday's edition of the Explore Steamboat weekend guide in the Steamboat Today.
2009 Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series
- Saturday, Rusted Root at Howelsen Hill: For almost two decades, the Pittsburgh-based band Rusted Root has forged jam rock with world music styles. Listen to a track from "Stereo Radio," the band's first studio release since 2002, at www.steamboatpilo... or www.exploresteamb.... Knock on Wood - a group of Steamboat Springs High School students who won the 2009 Teen Battle of the Bands - opens the show at about 6 p.m.
- July 17, The Greyboy Allstars with Karl Denson at Howelsen Hill: Scheduled to appear with all-star saxophonist Karl Denson, The Greyboy Allstars combine 1970s funk grooves with jazz melodies to land on a laidback, danceable sound. Listen to the Allstars at www.myspace.com/t.... Brooklyn funk band The Pimps of Joytime opens.
- July 31, The Freddy Jones Band at Howelsen Hill: Listing the Allman Brothers, Little Feat and Dave Matthews among its influences, The Freddy Jones Band reunited in 2005 after a hiatus that followed radio play and commercial success through the mid- and late-'90s, and got right back to tossing blues guitar solos into an alternative rock format. Listen to The Freddy Jones Band at www.myspace.com/f.... An opening act is to be announced.
- Aug. 13, Susan Tedeschi at the base of Steamboat Ski Area: In addition to being a killer blues singer and guitarist, Susan Tedeschi has shown a willingness to reinvent the genre, throwing the soul and gospel elements that define Chicago blues into the mix. Tedeschi has played in Steamboat several times, including a winter show in April 2008, and free summer concerts in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Listen to her songs at www.myspace.com/s.... Roots rocker Joe Pug opens the show.
- Aug. 20, The Avett Brothers at the base of Steamboat Ski Area: The Avett Brothers bring a relentless live show, old-time instruments used on straight-ahead rock and folk songs and lyrics that make you stop and write them down. The band's first release for American/Columbia records, "I and Love and You," is expected out in late September. Concert series president Joe Kboudi got interested in the Avetts after they played for Strings Music Festival in August 2008. "Of all the bands, The Avett Brothers have a fresh, real sound that I haven't heard, and they're a not-to-miss band," Kboudi said. Listen to the Avetts at www.myspace.com/t.... An opening act is to be announced.
Gates open at about 5 p.m., opening acts start at 6 p.m., and headliners go on at about 7 p.m.
To learn more about the Steamboat Springs Summer Concert Series, go to www.steamboatfree.... The site includes information about this summer's artists, the history of the series and hosts a PayPal account that allows anyone to donate to the series.
Steamboat Springs In the 19 years since Joe Kboudi and John Waldman started the Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series with two shows on the Routt County Courthouse lawn, the concerts have grown into a five-part collection of shows with an average attendance of 4,000 people.
Multi-styled jam band Rusted Root starts the 2009 lineup at 7 p.m. Saturday, with Knock on Wood - a band of Steamboat Springs High School students - opening the set at 6 p.m. at Howelsen Hill. Gates open at 5 p.m. with ski jumpers starting off the hill at 5:30 p.m.
With a summer schedule that features funk from The Greyboy Allstars, pop rock from The Freddy Jones Band, blues from Susan Tedeschi and roots rock from The Avett Brothers, the 2009 series "is diverse with something for almost everyone," said Kboudi, series president and owner of All That Jazz music store. The lineup comes together in a collaborative, months-long process, organizers said.
Waldman - who acts as promotion and production manager - has developed contacts with major booking agents in his years working on the series, Kboudi said. Near the beginning of each year, the two co-founders and series vice president Kevin King start exchanging ideas about what bands might be interesting, available, suitable and affordable.
Lists of suggestions go back and forth, until a crop of possible headliners comes together, usually by March, Kboudi said. Groups that already are within about 500 miles of Steamboat are good prospects, and organizers try to gather a varied group of musical styles on each summer's calendar.
"There's no real set plan most years of, 'We're definitely going to do two country acts,' or, 'We're definitely going to do two blues acts.' It just sort of plays out with the availability and the quality of the acts," Waldman said.
About $55,000 is allotted to artist fees each year, Kboudi said. Once a headliner or two is booked, the production team starts filling in the gaps.
"You're always looking for the best act that we can find for the best price and that routes through," Waldman said.
The community scope of the event requires that bands be family-friendly - pretty much ruling out any group that uses profanity, King said. Each group needs to have good energy to keep the atmosphere lively at an outdoor concert, Kboudi said.
Funding coming together
Going into this year's series, a 37.5 percent cut in city funding and slower-than-usual sponsorship dollars put the future of the series on shaky financial footing.
Organizers expected sponsorship levels to be down about 10 to 15 percent for the summer, King said. But support for the concerts has been steadfast, he said, allowing the group to book what King and Kboudi described as three headliners in a five-part series.
"Given the recession and the economy, we were lucky the community has supported us the way they did, in order to book these bands," King said.
With a newly granted 501c(3) charitable organization status, the series can now receive tax-deductible individual gifts. A PayPal account on the new series Web site allows supporters to give donations in any amount they choose.
About one-third of the cost for any concert is spent on artist fees, King said. The rest goes toward production, lights, advertising, sound, set-up and all the things that make each show happen. The total series budget is about $200,000, Kboudi said.
The organization is in good shape going into the beginning of the series, but it's still looking for sponsors, Kboudi said. Moving forward, he expects the events to stay strong.
"We anticipate the same level of talent, the same number of concerts and the same level of participation," he said. "We think that people feel it's too important to let the series down."