Festival Aplenty

By on June 9, 2015


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Sixty acts across multiple Jackson venues, three days and four nights of music, art and culture with family-friendly offerings each day (kids under 10 enjoy free access) and raucous concerts pushing into the wee hours. Introducing the inaugural Contour Music Festival, a monumental undertaking at the hands of music obsessed promoters Jeff Stein and Matt Donovan that kicks off Thursday eve.

“The model for this festival is to expose people to the unfamiliar,” Donovan explained of the diverse lineup that ranges from electronic heavy weights Thievery Corporation and The Polish Ambassador to the funk soul of Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires and the cerebral hip-hop of Sage Francis. While these artists may be familiar to you, what they each have in common – along with more than 20 other performers – is that they’ve never set foot on a Jackson Hole stage. Read Stein and Donovan’s under-the-radar picks below.

Other noteworthy acts include the Cirque du Soleil-esque theatrics of Quixotic. Stein describes them as “aerial dancers with video mapped projections; think ballet mixed with bass driven beats and wild costumes,” and futuristic super group Deltron 3030, that’s Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala. (See below for an interview with Del.) Of course Contour hasn’t forgotten local talent either, which abounds on the all-ages main stage at Snow King and across Jackson venues nightly.

Unsurprisingly, with a festival of this caliber and magnitude bound by myriad community collaborations, the anticipation has spread beyond the realm of festivalgoers. Jackson Mayor Sara Flitner said she’s impressed with Contour’s mosaic of participants. “I really love true collaboration … so, I love this approach Contour Music Festival has upheld … working with local nonprofits, the school district, the business community, and really having the goal that there’s some benefit to everyone who’s participating,” she said. “I think where Contour is going brings us to a whole new level.”

Last year Donovan and Stein, who are no strangers to the music festival sphere, as staffers and attendees, participated in Central Wyoming College’s Start-Up Institute, where they concocted the idea of Contour for the course’s focal project. It has been a labor of love from day one. “The power of place is deeply engrained in our ethos,” Stein explained. “Contour is first and foremost a celebration of Jackson, of these mountains, rivers, and forests, as well as the dynamic people who dwell here. It is designed to be a synergy of these elements under a single veil, a celebration of creative energy in unison and harmony.”

The duo said the Start-Up Institute required them to consider how to highlight this synergy, which explains the myriad art, cultural and community components. On Thursday, for example, the festival kicks off with a free Mix’d Media event at the National Museum of Wildlife Art from 6 to 9 p.m. Two unique music performances happen that evening: Singer/songwriter Shaprece, a sultry songstress who’s drawn inspiration from Bjork, Little Dragon and Aaliyah, performs with a cellist and DJ followed by Danny Corn, an innovator of the “West Coast sound,” who will drop bass lines never heard in a Jackson museum. For the art portion of the evening, partygoers will add their colors to a massive mural inspired by Shelley Reed’s current exhibit at NMWA. Contour recommends hitching a free ride from Town Square on a Limo Lounge shuttle or riding your bike to the party.

Also happening on Thursday as part of Contour’s opening festivities is the Art Association ArtWalk (read about “Figures,” the opening reception for Ed Lavino and Camille Davis at Daly Artists here).

Throughout the festival, the Center for the Arts lawn will transform into a relaxing oasis known as the Art Garden, a space to stretch out, enjoy lawn games and public art, and drink tea in a Japanese teahouse. Among the public art on display is a behemoth camera obscura that’s 15 feet in diameter created by Bronwyn Minton. Folks can step inside for a different perspective on their surroundings.

Aside from the rich tapestry of music, art and culture, what’s notable about this multi-day festival is the passion Donovan and Stein possess for their community and surroundings; this is why Contour came to fruition. “Contour isn’t about a band or any number of bands, or how much you can absorb in a condensed period of time,” Donovan said.  “It’s a reflection of the spirit that makes this place so special.”

For more info and a full schedule, visit contourmusicfestival.com.

– Robyn Vincent


A focus on some of Contour’s live instrumentalists 

The Cave Singers

The Cave Singers

Twenty-one of the 60 acts at Contour lean toward the analog, live instrumentation persuasion. It’s a mash that doesn’t require descriptions, per se, a confident sense that it would be a worthy undertaking to simply wander from stage to stage, consciously prepped to discover your latest favorite band. But just in case you’re not a drifter, here are some grains of salt.

Thursday is an entirely free evening of concerts, concentrated in downtown venues (i.e. no outdoor main stage). The newly expanded Silver Dollar Bar (all Contour shows at the Silver Dollar are free, by the way) will feature local Dixieland jazz band, Jackson Six (7:30 to 11 p.m.), while Town Square Tavern plays host to The WYOmericana Caravan Tour—a three band bill that is a rolling representation of Wyoming’s burgeoning songwriter scene, described by the New York Times as “a traveling concert circus.” The bill features the raw and volatile blues-rock attitude of The Patti Fiasco (9 p.m.), followed by Jackson’s own harmony-centric indie folk-rock styled Canyon Kids (10 p.m.), and the rustically electric Americana of Screen Door Porch (this reporter happens to be a member of the band), (11 p.m.), followed by an extended three-band encore set (midnight).

The main stage gets plugged in Friday, with a noon kick-off. The Cave Singers (2:20 to 3:20 p.m.) represent the lone singer-songwriter band in the day lineup. They made quite an impression on town a couple of years back with an intricate, brushfire folk sound that lyrically captures life’s miraculous moments.

Fast-forward to Friday evening, get your genuine country fix with Seattle’s Country Hammer (7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, at the Silver Dollar, free) followed by local jamgrass sextet One Ton Pig (7:30 to 11 p.m., free), which just released their third studio album, “Lastville,” featuring the pensive songwriting of Michael Batdorf. Country Hammer, a quartet and friends with the Pig, will be the lone country band of the weekend, though that tends to come with the territory.

Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer

Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer

“There are a lot of hardcore country fans in this country that are really excited to hear traditional country because it’s not that common,” said primary Country Hammer singer-songwriter Cahalen Morrison. “There is a resurgence right now and what Sturgill Simpson is doing has been good for country music—all of a sudden everybody loves Waylon and Merle again.”

“There’s a lot of the outlaw vibe out there, based more heavily than I would on the image and the bad boy thing and the drinking and the bars and all that. George Jones, to me, is the country man and one of the best singers in any genre, ever. He always sang the hell out of it, and that’s important to us. Our band has really good singers with their own vibe.”

Friday evening’s funk, groove and jamband vibe will be found across the street at the Pink Garter Theatre.

Montana-grown electro thunder funk six-piece Cure for the Common (10:15 to 11:15 p.m., also 1:20 to 2:20 p.m. Saturday on the main stage) has been weaving their way through national festivals as of late. Papadosio is seemingly the ideal late night band, especially to connoisseurs of jamtronica. The multi-layered, synth-heavy, psychedelic progressive rock territory that Papadosio (12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.), inhibits is as mind-expanding as their positive lyrical philosophy of conservation, tolerance, and loving thy neighbor. Their music takes deep breaths, delving into experimental musical exertions that pulse and transfer your stage of mood from calm to mind-blowing.

The Saturday main stage lineup at Snow King features the bulk of the live bands, and it will be an epic one. One of just a few local bands consistently taking their music beyond the borders of Teton County, Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons (noon to 1 p.m.), are having success touring with their album debut, “Breakfast,” which just charted at No. 16 on Jambands.com Radio Chart. Southern-influenced, Denver-based trio The Congress (2:40 to 3:40 p.m.) has developed a keen patience that often starts slow and groovy only to ascend into Black Keys-esque heaviness.

Florida’s Roadkill Ghost Choir (4 to 5 p.m.) rocks the folk, plush with great singing and ample hooks, while also capable of swinging towards either experimental Radiohead or a rootsy Tom Petty sound. Saturday main stage headliner, Moon Taxi (8:30 to 10 p.m.), is intense on composition with dense layering over an indie-pop-rock foundation, reminiscent of Kings of Leon’s radio sensibility. And if you’re curious about their commitment to indie-rock lifestyle, spin the new single released last week, “All Day All Night,” for intermingled jangling guitars over a tom tom groove.

The Saturday evening club scene has little overlap when compared to the main stage, with the Silver Dollar hosting Country Hammer again (7:30 to 9:30 p.m., free), followed by the raw and rootsy sound of New York’s Spirit Family Reunion (9:30 to 11 p.m., free). Their secular, circular “open door gospel” sound often features the band singing harmony in a circle like the Sacred Harp choirs across rural parts of the nation.

Town Square Tavern’s Saturday stage will feature the lone tribute set, Home at Last: Nth Power perform Steely Dan (10:30 to 11:45 p.m.), followed by the deep soul and heavy funk grooves of Orgone (12:15 to 1:45 a.m.). Now, that’s a fine way to spend a Saturday.

The Nth Power

The Nth Power

Sunday could be considered the apex festival day on the main stage, staging Spirit Family Reunion for the second time (12:40 to 1:30 p.m.), followed by Roosevelt Collier’s Gospel Brunch (1:50 to 2:50 p.m.)—a Robert Randolph-esque band that was also brought up in the sacred steel tradition and features Collier ripping the pedal steel. As for the dance-groove, soul and R&B of The Nth Power (4:35 to 5:45 p.m.), the powerful lineup spells much of what cannot be explained. The formula starts with heavy-hitting drummer Nikki Glaspie (Dumpstaphunk, Beyonce), compounded by bassist/vocalist Nate Edgar (John Brown’s Body), vocalist/keyboardist Nigel Hall (Lettuce, Warren Haynes Band), guitarist Nick Cassarino (Jennifer Hartswick Band, Big Daddy Kane), and West African djembe master Weedie Braimah (Toubab Krewe, Kreative Pandemonium).

This Sunday fiasco all leads up to soul man Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires (6:15 to 7:30 p.m.), with a main stage closing set by Thievery Corporation (8 to 10 p.m.). A candid interview with Bradley was featured in the May 27 edition of The Planet, detailing his fascinating story of becoming a big stage act at the age of 61, following a life of homelessness, hitchhiking to find work, extreme illness, and being a James Brown impersonator to pay the bills before being “discovered” by Daptone Records founder Gabriel Roth. His band bridges the narrow gap of Motown-era soul-pop to 70s R&B, and a psychedelic Curtis Mayfield-esque vibe.

“I look at this world as my home, and everywhere I go I try to give everyone the best of my soul like it’s my last show,” Bradley said. “When I see that people enjoy it, I just want to get nastier with it. That’s why, when I get off stage, I can tell that my spirit needs rest. I’ve actually lived and experienced most all of these songs, like ‘The World (Is Going Up In Flames).’ People are just people wherever you go and I want to sing to souls, feel what they feel in their heart.”

If, by the grace of pacing one’s self, you are poised for one more late night, it’s an instrumental soul-jazz party Sunday night at Town Square Tavern. Think Soulive, latter era Grant Green, or jazz organ great Jimmy Smith when you ponder McTuff (10:15 to 11:30 p.m.), a trio led by Hammond organist Joe Doria. Elevating the late night vibe, English funk/jazz-fusion quartet The New Mastersounds (midnight to 2 a.m.), are no strangers to the Jackson scene. They released their ninth studio album, “Therapy,” earlier in the year and have a tenth album in post-production.

“We take inspiration from the older generation of musicians like George Porter, Art Neville & Ziggy Modeliste from the Meters, all of whom we’ve had the honor of performing with,” said drummer and founding member Simon Allen. “They are 20 to 30 years older than us and still doing it. I don’t think there’s a pension plan in this game, which might explain the persistence of musicians!”


Promoters give inside scoop on under-the-radar brilliance

Jeff Stein:

Jeff Stein


Their remixes and original tracks quickly caught the attention of big acts, and some are calling them the next Odesza. Known for fun, tasteful, and well-produced music in a genre that they refer to as “Future Summer.”

6:45 p.m., Saturday, Main Stage at Snow King


Mixes Latin, tropical, house and more into a hypnotic and captivating sound all his own. One of the top three DJ sets I saw last summer.

5:45 p.m., Friday, Main Stage at Snow King


Emerging producer on the acclaimed Soulection lablel who mixes multi ethnic rhythms with clean, deep bass. He’s sharing the bill with Sweater Beats from NYC, one of my “don’t miss” acts at Contour.

12:45 a.m., Friday, Town Square Tavern

Curve (Sunday Night party at Center for the Arts)

This lineup of El Papa Chango, Barisone, and The Librarian is basically three of my all time favorite DJs in one night. It’s sort of like, “If you were stuck on a desert island with only three DJs to listen to, who would they be?”

10:15 p.m., Sunday, Center for the Arts

G Jones

Redefining Bass Music. G Jones just played a number of shows with Bassnectar and released a collabo project with DJ Shadow. Nuff said.

11:30 p.m., Saturday, Pink Garter Theatre

Matt Donovan:

Matt Donovan

Roadkill Ghost Choir

They’ve garnered a lot of attention recently with comparisons to My Morning Jacket and Radiohead. If that doesn’t turn heads, their set definitely will.

4 p.m., Saturday, Main Stage at Snow King

Home At Last: The Nth Power perform Steely Dan

It’s bold to take on a cover set, and The Nth Power will not disappoint, especially with the ORGONE horns backing them up.  No static at all.

10:30 p.m., Saturday, Town Square Tavern

Roosevelt Collier

Amen to sacred steel and gospel on a Sunday afternoon.

1:50 p.m., Sunday, Main Stage at Snow King

Country Hammer

For fans of George Jones, and CLASSIC country, The Silver Dollar Showroom is the perfect venue for them, and it’s free!  They’re doing such an incredible job of sticking to the genre while remaining original.

7:30 p.m., Friday, Silver Dollar Bar

Cure For The Common 

With two chances to catch them in very different environments, it will be clear why Montana just can’t control this force of electro-thunder funk.  Contour is not responsible for melted faces.

10:15 p.m., Friday, Pink Garter Theatre

1:20 p.m., Saturday, Main Stage at Snow King


The future is now with Deltron 3030

Photo by Michael Donovan

Photo by Michael Donovan

Del tha Funkee Homosapien, one part of Deltron 3030, might just be the coolest guy on the planet (certainly the coolest guy in The Planet). While many of Del’s peers have followed a trajectory of amassing fame and notoriety, and then becoming unapproachable and aloof, Teren Delvon Jones walks a different path.

“I’m always out on the street interacting with people,” Jones said. “I can be reached … I learn from people. I can’t address every person on social media, because if I did then I couldn’t do my work. But there was a time when you could hit me up directly on AIM (instant messenger).”

During our 90-minute interview, we rapped about skateboarding – Jones just mastered the ollie at age 42. “In school, I was good in physics, so when I tried skating and saw it was all about balance, I got really into it,” he said. We discussed George Orwell, whose books had a profound effect on Jones; Ice Cube, who happens to be Jones’ cousin: “In my young mind I thought I was better than him, but my lyrics were abstract and he had to chisel and mold me.” We talked downloading music (Jones says go for it); freestyling (even in high school, Jones garnered spectators) and the burgeoning hip-hop scene when the Bay Area lyricist was forming a group with his high school buddies that helped put Oakland, Calif., on the hip-hop map: Hieroglyphics.

In the futuristic super group, Deltron 3030, performing 11:30 p.m., Sunday night at the Pink Garter Theatre, Jones assumes the persona of Deltron Zero, a character observing the world in a calamitous future state.  To immerse himself in his alter ego, Jones hit the books.

“I studied for a long time about how to write science fiction,” said Jones, who picked up his first book at the age of 2. Today, works such as Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” and Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational” and “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty,” have informed Jones’ songwriting. But the emcee maintains a delicate balance in his rhymes. “The books I read come through in my lyrics, but as a music fan and a musician, I’m careful not to get too preachy,” Jones said.

Deltron Zero deftly narrates a place where the ills of today are exacerbated: “Covert codewords contain information that colonizes nations that divides the races,” his lyrics say. “Try to find a way that your mind can escape it, intoxification of selectedly caused capers until we turn into vapor/The unseen hand be command in the paper.”

Then you’ve got Dan the Automator crafting post-apocalyptic beats too intricate to categorize as simply hip-hop, all punctuated by Kid Koala’s masterful scratching. The group’s self-titled debut – now a cult classic – was met with major accolades in 2000 but Deltron 3030 made fans wait more than a decade before releasing the second album, “Event II.”

The overwhelming response from critics and fans: it was well worth the wait.

Unlike Deltron 3030’s first effort, “Event II” is comprised of all original music with a host of real musicians; no samples are used. Lyrics are rife with political commentary and beats are laced with a dark tinge.

In Under the Radar magazine, Kid Koala explained: “It’s set in a post-apocalyptic era one thousand years in the future, so in a way we were finding futuristic sounds that also sound broken. A lot of the synthesizers that we used inherently had ghosts in them, because they were on their last legs as we were using them.”

For Jones, who released his first record at the age of 18, cultivating a robust solo career and myriad collaborations, performing with Deltron 3030 presents a unique opportunity. “I am a musician myself, so being around other musicians that are more experienced than me is a learning experience,” he said. “I dig the immediacy of the hip-hop setup, but with Deltron 3030, the interaction of everybody on stage – it’s like a funk band – it’s a different thing.” 

– Robyn Vincent


Group mountain bike rides and free mountain bike demos will be on tap all weekend.

Bike Demo Schedule *ID is required for all demos* (Contour is not responsible if you break your face.)

Friday to Sunday – Specialized e-bikes

Saturday – The Hub cycles

Sunday – The Hub cycles, Rocky Mountain Bikes/Hoff’s Bikesmith

To score free stuff, send any biking video footage you get to media@contourmusicfestival.com.

THE BETA ON tickets

Main Stage Weekend Pass ($145): If you want to check out at least two days of the daytime acts, buy this pass.

All Night Long – Full Festival Pass – 21+ ($250): If you’re planning to enjoy two days of daytime acts, and any of the late night parties, buy this pass. You are guaranteed entry into the late nights as long as there is capacity at the venue. Contour is not over-selling these passes, but it’s recommended you head to night shows you want to see a little early or immediately following the last act on the Main Stage.

(This is the best deal if you want to see the most shows and have options.)

All Night Long upgrade – 21+ ($105): If you bought a Main Stage weekend pass and would like to see at least two late night shows, buy this.

Single day Main Stage ($65 to $85): If you can only get away for one of the days, buy one of these. You can check the lineup on the CMF website and listen to all the different acts.

Single late night shows (price varies): If you can only get away for one late night show, and/or you work nights so you can’t get to the shows until later. These tickets are limited, as we need to leave room for All Night Long and Peak pass holders. If there is capacity at these shows, some additional tickets may be sold at the door.

Peak/VIP pass ($850): You want guaranteed entry into all shows as well as Main Stage and late night amenities? Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s also freaking awesome.


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