MusicFest gets off to a hollerin’ start
Festival continues at ski area, with free public concert Friday
January 7, 2010
Steamboat Springs — On Tuesday night in The Steamboat Music Tent, a 180-by-80-foot space became Steamboat Springs, Texas.
Rounding out the first day of the 25th annual MusicFest at Steamboat, returning festival headliner Robert Earl Keen closed a night full of the style of country music he helped create more than 25 years ago.
Tossing out hits such as "Corpus Christi Bay" and "Feelin' Good Again," Keen peppered his set with down-home stories; somehow appealing though utterly unflattering descriptions of Lubbock, Texas, during the song "Amarillo Highway"; and welcomes met with raucous cheers from a party-hungry crowd in the tent at the Knoll Parking Lot.
Like many of the more than 30 acts who travel from Texas to Steamboat each January with thousands of fans in tow, Keen's strength in performing is his almost unmatched ability to make every story — no matter how personal or booze-soaked — feel like it could belong to anyone.
That clearly held some appeal with the crowd at the Music Tent on Tuesday, as more and more servings of Tito's, Shiner Bock and Budweiser hit the air with each song from Keen and his rock-ready band.
Texas singer-songwriter and nothing-left-unsaid alternative country player Charlie Robison got the crowd warmed up for Keen's set. Hobbling through a skiing-induced knee injury, Robison barreled through his set with more energy than he probably should have been able to muster.
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"My Hometown" ended in a crowd-wide singalong, and "Love Means Never Having to Say You're Hungry" drew a hearty reaction.
Robison eventually left the stage, in what appeared to be a lot of pain, leaving his more than capable band to play out the final minutes of his set. Earlier in the night, singer-songwriter Cory Morrow and storyteller-fiddle player Doug Moreland delivered performances in the tent.
MusicFest continues in force today and Friday, with full-band and acoustic sets at the Music Tent, The Steamboat Grand, Bear River Bar & Grill and the top of the gondola. Among the scheduled performers are Lee Ann Womack, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Reckless Kelly, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jason Boland and Roger Creager.
Free concert Friday
Almost all of the remaining MusicFest concerts are sold as part of a festival pass and ski trip; those packages have been sold out for months.
A free, public concert featuring Jack Ingram and Doug Moreland is at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Gondola Square. Gates for the concert open at 1:15 p.m., and the celebration includes a Cajun cookout and other festivities.
Ingram, who won the 2008 Best New Male Vocalist Award from the Academy of Country Music, has been building momentum with Texas country fans for more than a decade. He played the free MusicFest concert in 2009. Moreland holds on to a distinct Western flavor with his music, keeping a joke ready to go along with his stories and swinging songs.
Through the weekend, MusicFest "extended set" pass-holders will have access to a couple of small shows in the mountain area. The Steamboat Music Tent will stay up in the Knoll Parking Lot through Jan. 20 for Ski Jam concerts, with full parking expected to return Jan. 23, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said last week.
The seventh annual Ski Jam — which is presented by Dickson Productions, the organizers of MusicFest — features national acts including The Wailers, Keller Williams and Super Diamond in shows Jan. 14 to 17 at the ski area.
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