Knotty kicks off musical Winterfest

Chali and mates get their groove on at the Knotty before Halloween.

As referenced earlier, this is shaping up to be one outrageous Presidents’ Weekend. On top of all the events going on in Jackson, there has been an organic convergence of music over the hill.

Tonight the Knotty Pine kicks off a run of four nights of shows with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Chali 2na and House of Vibe. The show is sold out, but Mike Dillon returns with Hairy Apes BMX on Friday and Saturday. Capping off the weekend is a truly outrageous ensemble unlike anything the Teton area has seen: MarchFourth Marching Band, a 24-piece troupe loaded with horns and percussion, mixing marching beats with performance art.

Also, at Grand Targhee’s Trap Bar, Leftover Salmon alumnus Vince Herman is back with Great American Taxi. Last we left off, Herman and friends were performing late night in the campground after Targhee Fest. The good-time bluegrass and Americana quintet is playing aprés-ski in the Trap as well as at night. Click here for details. And with Targhee hitting its quota of 10,000 Facebook friends, lift tickets will be just $25 on Friday.

Chali 2na and Karl D. are practically locals, having performed in Jackson Hole and at the Knotty often in recent years. This is the first time the two have toured together, and Chali is looking for both bands to mix it up.

“He loves to jam out,” Chali said of The Diesel. “I’m that kind of cat.”

Chali says he doesn't do much to take care of his voice. He tried teas and smoking, but that dried out his throat before he went on stage.

But playing the Tetons is always a challenge for Chali 2na, former singer for Jurassic 5 who has joined Galactic and Ozomatli for gigs here.

“The air up there gets you,” he said by phone last week. “I live in all this dirty smog in a bowl called L.A. I get up to those altitudes, and I nearly faint.”

His rich, deep baritone voice makes the lyrics bounce and ladies swoon. Although singing night after night takes its toll, he doesn’t have a ritual to hold onto his golden vocal cords. “I probably should do more,” he said. “At one point I was really serious about it. I tried certain teas, I used to smoke, but all that stuff would dry my throat out before I played shows.”

Born Charles Stewart, Chali 2na rose to prominence with the hip-hop group Jurassic 5 in the mid-1990s. He also helped found the salsa dance band Ozomatli, with which he still sings from time to time. House of Vibe is a collaboration with his longtime friend Anthony Brewster, formerly of the old-school ska band The Untouchables, among many other projects. Phillip Fisher, a founding member of Fishbone, plays drums, while Corey Cofield strums a seven-string bass.

Rapping with Galactic at the Mangy Moose in 2008.

When Chali 2na moved to California, he and Brewster would talk about playing together. “My band is going to be your band,” he recalled Brewster telling him. After J-5 broke up in 2007, Chali asked Brewster, “Are you ready?” he said. “We’ve been rolling ever since.”

With House of Vibe, a rather large confederation of musicians who rotate in and out of the lineup, Chali is pursuing a “better, bigger, dynamic sound,” he said. “It’s a cool interpretation of my solo material. These are the brothers helping me bring about that vision.”

House of Vibe played the “Raise the Roof” benefit at the Mangy Moose in 2005 for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The group also rocked the Knotty with Chali 2na shortly before Halloween, a party he said was, well, outrageous.

For the Knotty Pine lineup, visit its website or Facebook page. Hairy Apes BMX is $8 at the door, while MarchFourth Marching Band is $15.

(Photos of Chali 2na at Knotty by Hans Trupp, via KP)

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3 Comments so far

  1. Rob W. February 17, 2011 6:43 pm

    The knotty was sold out as early as Monday. What happened to both sides of the valley being lazy and buying their tickets last minute? Wtf, man!

    Consolation prize for missing kdtu–GAT!

  2. Norman Pear February 18, 2011 8:14 am

    We need a post about the fascist governor from Montana and the poor oppressed wolves!

  3. js February 19, 2011 10:49 pm

    At least he saved the bison:
    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/02/15/montana-governor-bars-park-service-from-slaughtering-hundreds-of/

    As for Thursday night’s double bill, the Diesel had his band churning like a locomotive, and the Knotty rumbled with wall-to-wall euphoria. This show wasn’t as much about Karl as his bandmates. It’s always a pleasure to listen to Brian Jordan on guitar, and the rhythm section of Chris Stillwell on bass and Terence Higgins on drums kept the beat thumping. Jordan went way out with some savage guitar licks toward the end of the first set, reminiscent of ’60s-era Clapton.

    Chali 2na and House of Vibe had the crowd revved with an opening hip-hop set, and Chali twice took the stage with Karl D. and Tiny Universe. On the second cameo, midway through the second set, he busted out an extended extemporaneous rap, touching on the beauty of the place and people of Victor, Idaho. It could have been the sort of pandering most bands do before an audience, but Chali pounded his fist to his chest for emphasis. “And I mean it,” he said. “AND I MEAN IT.” When not on stage he took in Karl D.’s soul-funk revue from the crowd, towering over fans.

    The energy inside the place was explosive. It was as good a groove as the Teton area ever gets.

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