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Steamboat Mountain Music Festival headliners deliver variety and virtuosityPosted: June 22, 2012

There are some great performers booked for the July 7 Steamboat Mountain Music Festival in Edgewater. Their talent and energy are sure to spark a musical day to remember.

Homeboys Martin Reisle, on guitar, and Brendon Hartley on bass, are two members of Vancouver-based Maria In the Shower, a young band who mix vaudeville with Euro cabaret, a bit of hipster swing, a dash of the Muppets, and a whole lot of their own attitude to their very original music. The other two members of Maria are percussionist Todd Biffard and their singing trumpet and accordion player Jack Ganon. These performers (pictured above) are bursting with energy. Their wildly experimental, passionate, music breaks boundaries, and their wistful, surprising harmonies break hearts.

Clawhammer banjo maestro Chris Coole is the front-man of Toronto’s bluegrass group the Foggy Hogtown Boys. At Steamboat Mountain Festival, he’ll be performing solo. Clawhammer banjo style is based on a downstroke which produces a powerful rhythm and a driving traditional sound. Strongly influenced by both old time music and the speed and freedom of bluegrass, Coole sticks close to the traditions as he moves into his own new territory. This combination of old and new has served him very well, and over the past few years, he has become known as one of the best clawhammer players in the world.

John Reischman & the Jaybirds perch in Vancouver when they are not touring on the bluegrass circuit. The instrumentation is what might be expected in a traditional bluegrass ensemble, but the Jaybirds fly far beyond tradition to sweet and elegant horizons. Reischman’s songwriting and mandolin playing anchor the band, and the composition prowess and beautiful vocal contributions of Trisha Gagnon make her much more than their bass player.  Banjo fever drives Jim Hornbuckle, whose fast intricate picking adds fever heat to the mix. The Jaybirds’ fiddle player, Greg Spatz, soars and swoops with wild bluesy abandon, and Jim Nunally’s fleet fingered fretwork on guitar helps weave everything into dazzling musical flight formations.

Mark Koenig moved from Invermere to Creston back in 2003, but he returns periodically to sing and play his latest songs. Koenig’s melodies and his poetry are rooted in storytelling. His ideas are drawn from his own life and from local history. As a mountain climber, he has been inspired by Conrad Kain and many of the legendary explorers who ventured into the highest places where the clouds can go. He has composed haunting musical tributes to some of his heroes including Conrad Kain and David Thompson, and he sings them alive in a landscape of stark beauty that will surely strike a familiar chord for those who know and love the upper Columbia and its sweeping and sometimes dangerous geography.

These headliners will be interwoven with sets by a wide range of local performers including:  Bill Cropper, the Dry Gulch Ramblers, L8, Bob Benvenuti, Combo Akimbo, Marty & Eli Beingessner, the Halfsacks, Mickey Maione, Beard’s Creek, Steamboat Mountain Stardusters, Paige Fuller, and the Kootenay Legends.

By Anne Jardine

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