Friday, July 20, 2007

What?s that in the air?

Express Staff Writer

Chris Webster and Tracy Walton of Mumbo Gumbo play a gallimaufry of music at the Sun Valley Center Wine Auction Picnic. Photo by Willy Cook

Musically speaking the Wood River Valley is on fire. But don't bring out the hoses. It's a trend that's been building for a few years, and now in 2007 the hills are alive.

Back in the day, music could be found in many bars and saloons. That was all well for those over 21, but where did families gather with their young in tow? And where when kids became teens were they going to hear live music? Then all venues except for a couple of bars stopped offering music altogether, creating a vacuum.

Fortunately, several years ago artist and musician Will Caldwell and the Sun Valley Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau started Ketch 'em Alive, a free, outdoor weekly concert held on summer evenings. The idea and the venue, right in downtown Ketchum in the Forest Service Park, proved irresistible. Crowds grew. Bands came from far-flung locations.

Then four years ago, the Back Alley Party at the Wicked Spud was born in Hailey. Now families had two places on two different nights to hear live music outdoors. With the success of that benefit-driven event showcasing only local bands, others saw a good thing could be had by appealing to everyone.

There is now live free music, outside almost every night of the week, more often than not featuring local bands.

To wit: On Sundays, you can go to the Redfish Lake Lodge, Lefty's Bar & Grill or the Jazz shows at the Forest Service Park. Tuesdays are dedicated to Ketch 'em Alive. Every Wednesday is the Back Alley Party at the Wicked Spud. On Thursday, strollers can catch tunes at on the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor Plaza in Ketchum. Friday night, the Trail Creek Pub in Ketchum has live music in front of the pub, as does the Ketchum Apple's Café, built with live music in mind.

Of course, there is still ample opportunity to hear live music inside restaurants (The Ram Bar, Fresshies, diVine) and in saloons (The Mint, Whiskey Jacques, Hailey Hotel, Silver Dollar, Duchin Room,).

This weekend is an example of the wealth of talent that can be seen on stages around the valley.

On Friday, at the Ketchum Splash Park benefit concert in the Ketchum Forest Service Park, the Drew Emmitt Band will play. (For more information see article page XX).

Tracy Walton and Chris Webster, multi instrumentalists, writers and vocalists of the band Mumbo Gumbo will take to the stage at the Sun Valley Wine Auction picnic on Friday. They play a roots-based blend of Gulf Coast musical influences, including zydeco, R&B, Tex-Mex, boogie-woogie and Latin/African, creating a downright festive sound. This seven-piece band features red-hot vocals, accordion, washboard, swamp guitar, boogie piano, saxophones, and a rock-solid rhythm section.

In Ketchum, the Trail Creek Pub will host Hat Trick, an acoustic trio that plays tight, bluesy, folk-rock, both Friday and Saturday.

For the classicists among us, the Bronfman Chamber Music Series begins on Tuesday, July 24, under the Sun Valley Symphony Tent. Picnics flourish around this annual event, which precedes the two-week Sun Valley Summer Symphony.

Crank up the soundtrack of your life. Head outside.

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