People don’t just travel here for Sun Valley’s natural beauty—they come for the concerts, too.
Whiskey Jacques’, a mainstay in the Ketchum nightlife scene, draws big-name bands and up-and-comers to our own private Idaho, courtesy of its general manager, Ryan Kolquist. The August lineup boasts multiple bands, several that are Idaho exclusives, coming here just to play in the 300-person venue on Main Street in Ketchum. Kolquist takes pride in the establishment attracting big-name bands and being able to do so with reasonably priced tickets.
“A month ago, we had Steve Earle and the Dukes,” Kolquist said. “This guy has never played a stage the size of ours. He’s used to stadium seating; tickets up to $300 [or] $400, and the guy had so much fun when he came here. He did three encores.”
First up is Ori Naftaly. The band from Israel with an international fan base blazes into town on Thursday, Aug. 7. Awarded “Best Blues Band of 2012,” the band is about to release its third studio album. The swingin’ blues vibe of the five-person group was described by an Indiana newspaper as having “blown the joint out,” describing them as “Allmanesque.” How might an Israeli band mimic the timelessly American sounds of the Allman Brothers? If you’ve got five bucks, show up at 9 p.m. and find out.
Jabuki, hailing from Melbourne, Australia, will play Wednesday, Aug. 20. The band describes itself as indie, but could also be called a grooving medley of funk, rock and pop. Their song “Can’t Afford it All” has harmonies reminiscent of the Gym Class Heroes and beats worthy of the Gorillaz. They employ tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as, “She must have a thing for men with no style/Comb overs, bow ties and four eyes.” Hang out with the cool kids for $5 at 9 p.m.
If you like Tom Waits, you will want to boogey to Kevin “ShinyRibs” Russell, riding into Whiskey’s on Saturday, Aug. 23, all the way from the deep American South. Russell is true to his Texas-Louisiana roots with songs like “East Texas Rust,” in which he scats and shows off an impressive vocal twang. Yet Russell proves himself versatile in “Devilsong,” in which he manages to merge a country ballad with the placid, contemplative vibes of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Wear your country best to Whiskey’s and bring $10 at 9 p.m., or score a ticket for $8 online.
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is performing the next day, Aug. 24, and Kolquist promises it’ll be worth it to rally. He said they’ve already had ticket sales for the West Coast rock band. Frontman Lukas is the son of country legend Willie Nelson, but his musical talent speaks for itself. Along with producing its own songs, the band covers rock staples such as “Sympathy for the Devil” and “After Midnight” that are almost better than the originals. Their cover of the psychedelic Jimi Hendrix song “Pali Gap/Hey Baby”—based on Hendrix’s time on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, particularly the eerie cliff drive on the Nu’uanu Pali—has rave reviews on YouTube. Nelson himself grew up in Paia, Maui. Ride the wave with Promise of the Real at 9 p.m. for $20 or $18 online.
Amy Busek: email@example.com