Jazz Fest: Clapton, Bruce, Phish, Arcade Fire

By Jim Stanford on January 14, 2014

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Trey Anastasio at Jazz Fest 2005. Anastasio and Phish will perform during the first weekend.

Is it Jazz Phest yet?

Phish, exiled from the Fairgrounds since 1996, returns for the 2014 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, joining the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Robert Plant, John Fogerty, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Alabama Shakes and the Avett Brothers.

These headliners will perform along with dozens of Big Easy luminaries such as Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Rebirth Brass Band, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, The Radiators and Dumpstaphunk with Art Neville. The 45th annual festival takes place April 25 to May 4.

Ticket prices start at $50 per day. More details and daily music lineup are available here.

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in memoriam: Billy’s Burgers

By Jim Stanford on March 30, 2012

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Billy's burgers were known for being large, cheap and served on a toasted bun with mayonnaise and a side of waffle fries. Legions of tourists and locals came as much for the atmosphere and boisterous staff as the food.

Today is the last day of Billy’s Giant Hamburgers. The landmark Town Square eatery is closing after 28 years.

So devotees better move fast to down one last gut bomb, at least in the tiny nook with ’50s-style counter service that distinguished the place. The burgers may resurface in some yet-to-be-determined dining venture, possibly down the street at Teton Theater, but the character of Billy’s will disappear into history like a coating of burnt gristle scraped from the grill.

I worked in Billy’s my first winter in Jackson Hole. I had been hired that fall to wait and bus tables in the adjacent Cadillac Grille, but it quickly became obvious that Billy’s was more my speed. I only had been in the valley a few weeks when, on my first day on the job, Harrison Ford came in for a Billy’s burger. He sat with his back to the window and ate quietly. I knew I had come to the right place.

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arts center to broadcast Phish NYE show

By Jim Stanford on December 20, 2011

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In what hopefully will be a prelude to the band playing in Jackson Hole soon, Center for the Arts will broadcast Phish’s New Year’s Eve concert live from Madison Square Garden in New York.

The show will be streamed on the arts center’s HD screen and digital sound system. The Vermont jam band will play three sets, stretching from approximately 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. MST. Tickets are $10, all general admission.

Phish usually has a few surprises in store for New Year’s, particularly the countdown at midnight. The band often glides to the stage aboard a giant hot dog, and last year at MSG (above) welcomed a chorus line of international dancers for a “Meatstick” extravaganza. The song won’t make sense to anyone unfamiliar with Phish, but it does make for an entertaining spectacle.

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deliver us wings

By Jim Stanford on September 5, 2011

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Pearl Jam Twenty from Pearl Jam on Vimeo.

This weekend saw a pair of festivals by two bands whose music has been a soundtrack for the Jackson Hole lifestyle but who have yet to play here, Phish and Pearl Jam. A herd of the Wyoming phaithful ran like antelope to Denver to see Phish perform three nights outdoors, while in Alpine Valley, Wis., Pearl Jam celebrated its 20th anniversary with a slew of guests and opening bands.

To commemorate two decades of making music, Pearl Jam is set to release a rockumentary that’s nothing short of awesome. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe — he of Fast Times and Almost Famous — the film debuts Sept. 20. The band has lined up hundreds of screenings around the world, yet hardly any in the western United States. How great would this sound on Center for the Arts’ new HD audio-video system?

In the meantime, we have a free concert to tide us over: Banjoist Abigail Washburn will perform in the Center Theater on Tuesday, preceded by a party on the back lawn. Washburn has played the Targhee Bluegrass Festival as part of the Sparrow Quartet with Béla Fleck. Like the recent Deadlocks show on the Town Square, the performance is another seed that could germinate into a free concert series, Jackson’s version of Music on Main.

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history brewing at the ‘Coach

By Jim Stanford on February 24, 2011

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History doesn’t have to be dull. The Jackson Hole Historical Society has drawn packed houses for its “Voices of the Valley” series, featuring living legends talking about their fishing, river running and skiing exploits.

Filmmaker Jen Tennican, in conjunction with the Historical Society, is making a documentary on one of the most colorful institutions of Jackson Hole: the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson. From the Sunday night “church” goers to the Disco Night revelers, nail pounders at happy hour and skiers washing down a powder day on Teton Pass, we all have our stories from the ‘Coach.

Tennican has delved into the history of the watering hole started by Walt Callahan in the 1940s. Callahan ran a rodeo behind the bar and served cowboys. The Stagecoach Band started its marathon streak of Sunday night gigs in 1969, as an influx of hippies mixed with horsemen — a tradition that continues to this day when all sorts of freaks gather to get down at Disco Night.

Tennican first visited the bar for Sunday night “church,” when the Stagecoach Band has the crowd two-stepping. “I was struck by the feeling of community,” she says. “It was very welcoming. It felt like being with your family, without the stress of being with your family.”

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