MUSIC BOX: Summer Ignition

By on May 31, 2017

Jackson Hole Live unveils a season of outdoor beats and eats.

New Orleans Suspects

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Jam. Blues. Soul. Sweet Rock. Whatever sounds fill your playlist, Jackson Hole Live is set to fill your Spotify search bar this summer. Shannon McCormick and his staff have released the full lineup for the outdoor concert series.

First on the roster is the return of the annual Jackson Hole Crawfish Boil on June 18. Set to take the stage during the Cajun classic is the New Orleans Suspects. Announced in early May, these cats come across as a Dr. John or Tab Benoit derivative ripe with the sweet Southern sounds of a second line and zydeco keys along with a fresh Louisiana twang in the vocals.

“They’re definitely a kind of super group of those traditional jazz funk Indian styles,” McCormick said.

But there’s more on the menu than music for the kick-off concert. Teton Raptor Center will incorporate its annual RaptorFest into this same celebration, which happens to coincide with the summer solstice and Father’s Day. RaptorFest is bringing its birds early for a 3 p.m. start.

The marquee will look westward to the music capital of the world for the July 2 show, as the Austin, Texas, rock quartet White Denim makes its way to Snow King. The indie crew embedded itself in its local music scene during the aught years, but rose to household status through the 2012 music festival circuit, following an opening slot on the previous year’s Wilco tour.

The band’s haunting dual guitar holds true to the Austin Sound with cowboy elements like a bottleneck slide and simple arrangements, with a drummer that does not impose. Still, funk licks can find a way into the audio, prompting a stanky dance party. It’s open and inviting, easy to digest and ideal for a sunset session.

“I have been a White Denim fan for a while,” McCormick said. “I’ve been looking forward to getting those guys booked for years now. We’ve done a lot of really cool hippy, jam stuff [before], but I think these guys are in your face.”

Jamie McLean Band does not let the torch drop, bringing with him on July 21 years of Southern experience as the former guitarist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This project digs deep into the dirt with reverb heavy blues-rock riffs and delta lyrics.

This year’s series, shorter than years past, culminates August 18 with the globetrotting bluegrass-based improvisation troupe Twiddle.

Although McCormick says the booking came at the adamancy of Jeff Potter, co-founder and Center Management, Inc. business manager, Potter pushes credit back to the talent buyer.

Still, McCormick insists: “I’ll give kudos to Jeff on helping me get that done. He was instrumental, and he pushed me hard.”

Twiddle’s upbeat, and borderline reggae instrumentation has washed over crowds across the international festival circuit. If not a headliner, Twiddle frequently ripples around the top billed acts, including taking the forefront of SummerFest2017.

If crawfish from the first night just whet your palate, arrive hungry for the other food vendors from across the valley, too: Pinky G’s, Moe’s BBQ, Café Genevieve, Everest Momo Shack, Sweet Cheeks Meats, Pop Popcorn and Nom Nom Donuts. New this year is a food truck care of Sagebrush Grille.

Following the new trend of Jackson Hole Live’s 2016 precedent, all shows carry with them a five dollar donation at the entrance, a nominal fee that helps ensure the Snow King Events Center can maintain a full-time, three- or four-person summer staff.

“Jackson Hole Live is integral in helping Center Management keep its core staff on throughout the summer,” Potter explained. “[Center Management, Inc.’s] mission as a nonprofit is to operate the center at a breakeven. … It just helps us keep operations going forward.”

Save for the early activities of the first performance, each event opens its gates at 5:30 p.m. with opening sets by Jackson classics kicking up fresh tracks, including Boondocks, Brother Wolf, Tram Jam and the return of EDM drum duo Head to Head.

White Denim

Free but not cheap

Grand Teton Music Festival is getting an early jump on its 56th annual summer symphonies with two free shows, the first is 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Trumpeter and 26-year festival veteran Charles Daval is the featured musician, accompanied by the Brigham Young University-Idaho brass faculty. A professor of trumpet at University of Illinois, Daval has been a member of such renowned outfits as the Boston Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony and the Seattle Symphony.

The latter June 15 performance will host Flutist Nadine Luke, violinist Hyeri Choi, and cellist Eleanor Christman Cox. They will deliver string and woodwind classics to a Walk Festival Hall crowd as an example of the season to come. PJH


Charles Daval and BYU-I brass (7 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church)


Michelle Moonshine (9 p.m. at Town Square Tavern)


Friday Night DJ with Therapy (10 p.m. at The Rose)


Bob Stevens (9 p.m. at The Virginian)


Songwriter’s Alley (7 p.m. at The Wort)


Josh Washburton (9 p.m. at the Tavern)

Hootenanny (6 p.m. at Dornans)


Bluegrass Night with O.T.P. (7:30 p.m. at The Wort)

About Jason Suder

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