T Bird and the Breaks, a soul group led by singer Tim Crane, left, is one of six bands scheduled to play this weekend during the seventh annual Ski Jam music festival. T Bird and the Breaks play from 3 to 6 p.m. today and Friday at Bear River Bar & Grill.

Courtesy photo

T Bird and the Breaks, a soul group led by singer Tim Crane, left, is one of six bands scheduled to play this weekend during the seventh annual Ski Jam music festival. T Bird and the Breaks play from 3 to 6 p.m. today and Friday at Bear River Bar & Grill.

Steamboat Ski Jam kicks off today with T Bird and the Breaks

Soul, reggae, ’80s music to be featured at weekend festival

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T Bird and the Breaks play from 3 to 6 p.m. today and Friday at Bear River Bar & Grill. The show is part of Ski Jam. Admission is free to Ski Jam festival pass holders and to anyone else until the venue starts to fill up.

— Singer and soul-steeped lead man Tim Crane came to soul music by way of a search for sounds that packed a visceral punch.

He moved from his native Massachusetts to Austin, Texas, about three years ago and set to work finding the players who would form T Bird and the Breaks, a 10-piece explosion of retro sound and raw harmony.

“I like that we can put across something with a lot of emotion that has ­… a sound and a rhythm and a beat that you can dance to, and you can get a certain kind of release and catharsis,” Crane said.

Ski Jam schedule

■ T Bird and the Breaks: This 10-piece soul and funk band plays “After the Hill Chill” shows from 3 to 6 p.m. today and Friday at Bear River Bar & Grill. Admission is included with Ski Jam festival passes, and shows will be free and open to the public until they start to fill up. Listen to the band here.

■ The Wailers: Returning to Ski Jam after performing hits from the legendary album “Exodus” in 2009, The Wailers offer an easy dance vibe. Listen to the band here. Opening the show is Texas roots rock group Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights. Listen to that band here. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 6 p.m. today at the Steamboat Music Tent in the Knoll Parking Lot.

■ Keller Williams: One-man jam band Keller Williams comes to Steamboat promoting his new album, “ODD,” a mash of acoustic styles, funk rhythms and wry lyrics. Listen to Williams here. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 7 p.m. Friday at the Music Tent.

■ Skyrocket: Covering radio classics from the 1970s, Skyrocket plays “After the Hill Chill” shows from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Bear River Bar & Grill. Admission is included with Ski Jam festival passes, and shows will be free and open to the public until they start to fill up. Listen to the band here.

■ The Molly Ringwalds: English band The Molly Ringwalds gives an all-out tribute to the 1980s with each show, touching on hit songs from an excessively dance-worthy decade. Listen to the band’s renditions of songs such as “Material Girl” and “Under Pressure” here. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Music Tent.

■ Super Diamond: San Francisco-based tribute band Super Diamond does everything it can to put out extremely lush versions of Neil Diamond’s greatest hits. Listen to the band here. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Music Tent.

T Bird and the Breaks perform

T Bird and the Breaks live montage from sammy p on Vimeo.

T Bird and the Breaks is one of six bands featured during the seventh annual Ski Jam music festival, which starts today at Ste­am­boat Ski Area. Crane and his band play from 3 to 6 p.m. today and Friday at Bear River Bar & Grill. The group joins radio hit cover band Skyrocket, playing Saturday and Sunday, on the weekend’s “After the Hill Chill” lineup at Bear River.

Crane sees the project as an extension of a lifetime love of rhythm-based music.

“I came up on blues music — my pops plays blues guitar — and it’s been kind of a natural progression. From that music, I found a lot of funk music of the ’60s and ’70s, and you can follow that progression to hip-hop today. It’s all kind of connected for me,” Crane said. His band’s first album, “Learn About It,” came out in 2009, and the group has put out one 45-rpm record with a single and a B-side track each month since.

“After the Hill Chill” shows featuring T Bird and the Breaks and Skyrocket are not individually ticketed. Access to the shows is guaranteed with a full Ski Jam festival pass, now $59. People without passes will be admitted to the Bear River shows for free until it looks as though the venue is filling up, at which point only pass holders will be allowed in, said John Dickson, founder of Dickson Productions, the Texas-based company that puts on Ski Jam and its sister Steamboat festival, MusicFest.

Main stage concerts for the seventh annual festival start at 6 p.m. today at the Steamboat Music Tent in the Knoll Parking Lot, with a show featuring reggae act The Wailers and rock band Jonathan Tyler & The Nor­t­hern Lights. One-man jam band, multi-instrumentalist and former Steamboat Springs resident Keller Williams plays at 7 p.m. Friday. English 1980s tribute band The Molly Ringwalds plays Saturday, and Neil Dia­mond tribute group Super Diamond plays Sunday.

Keller Williams loop jam

Based on the response and the range of shows offered, Dickson said he expects the Music Tent — an 80-by-180-foot temporary structure he said holds about 2,500 people — to be near capacity each night of Ski Jam.

Joe Kboudi, owner of downtown record store and Ski Jam ticket seller All That Jazz, said the high capacity of the tent means he doesn’t typically sell out of tickets. But with The Wailers’ Ski Jam show in 2009, he came close. Kboudi expects to sell more tickets for The Wailers today than he’s moved so far for the show, he said Wednesday. Tickets for the Keller Williams show scheduled for Friday also are moving well, he said.

Ski Jam tickets are available at Steamboat Ski & Sport, All That Jazz and Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza; by calling Steamboat Central Reservations at 800-922-2722; or online here and here.

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