singer Blunt films video around Tetons

By Jim Stanford on August 28, 2013

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On the heels of John Mayer, Band of Horses and this French guy comes the latest artist to film a music video in Jackson Hole.

James Blunt, the English singer and guitarist, shot the video for “Bonfire Heart,” the single from his forthcoming album, while riding his motorcycle through the valleys on both sides of the Tetons earlier this month. A host of locals, including a sheriff’s deputy, make cameos, and the video culminates with a celebration at the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson.

The 39-year-old crooner originally sought to film at the Cowboy Bar and approached the town about closing North Cache for several hours on a Saturday evening, but that idea was greeted coolly. Fortunately, he settled on the ‘Coach.

Blunt’s new album, Moon Landing, is due out in the U.S. in early November.

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mixed showing for Aussie musicians

By Jim Stanford on August 19, 2013

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John Butler wails while performing with his trio last week at Center for the Arts.

At first glance, one of the bands playing in Jackson last week appeared to have been miscast for the venue. It turned out to be not the one people expected.

Australian guitarist John Butler and his trio performed at Center for the Arts on Aug. 13, a night before his fellow countryman, Xavier Rudd, played the Pink Garter. The roots-rock trio can be loud and rollicking, prompting fans to wonder whether Butler, too, would have been better served at the Garter.

Instead, the 450 or so who filled the theater were treated to a show that was intimate, mesmerizing and, at times, even rowdy.

Butler came out on banjo and alternated between six-string, 12-string and lap steel guitars. From the opening notes, he dropped jaws with his picking, using a variety of pedals, looping and other effects to create a much larger sound.

He explained that his mother spent her 20s in Jackson Hole, and he always wanted to visit. The band and crew arrived a few days early, with “one mob” riding motorcycles to Yellowstone and another mob “hiking around some lake.”

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at Targhee, surprises well into the night

By Jim Stanford on July 29, 2013

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Brittany Howard, right, gave an impassioned performance with Alabama Shakes. Yes, that’s a tattoo of Alabama on her arm.

Last Sunday’s performance by Alabama Shakes was the most highly anticipated set at Targhee Fest, and the young rockers from Athens, Ala., did not disappoint.

“Are you scared to wear your heart out on your sleeve?” the quartet’s lead singer and guitarist, Brittany Howard, sang late in the show on “You Ain’t Alone.”

Howard poured her heart all over the Targhee stage, wailing on vocals and guitar on achingly beautiful songs like “Hold On.” A crowd of nearly 4,000 swayed and danced in appreciation. After a 90-minute set, the band returned for a four-song encore as the sun sank low over the distant hills of Idaho.

While the red-hot Shakes were a highlight as expected, what made the ninth annual Targhee Fest such a stirring weekend were unexpected high points seemingly around each bend.

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trails, tunes await festgoers

By Jim Stanford on July 19, 2013

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Steve Jones descends the new 38 Special trail into Teton Canyon.

One of the perks of the Widespread Panic weekend at Grand Targhee — redeeming the festival from just total hedonism — was trying out some of the new mountain biking trails at the resort.

Targhee has been improving its trail network in recent years, adding signage for the Quakie Ridge Loop in Rick’s Basin and Lightning Loop to the south. The Mill Creek downhill into Teton Canyon also has seen a substantial upgrade.

Now there are a couple of well-marked routes going up and down Peaked Mountain. Accessed from Lightning Ridge, the Peaked trail climbs in gradual switchbacks to the top of the Peaked chairlift before linking up with 38 Special, a long downhill full of banked turns. 38 Special descends into Mill Creek, and riders can continue all the way to Teton Canyon or climb back to the resort.

There’s also plenty of lift-served downhill biking on the front of Fred’s Mountain, for those who prefer to do their climbing via a chairlift ride.

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hanging on to Solid Rock

By Jim Stanford on July 10, 2013

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Jimmy Herring belts out a solo with help from Jojo Hermann and John Bell on Saturday as Widespread Panic plays the last of three shows at Grand Targhee.

John Bell blew on his hands as he stepped to the microphone to begin the second set Saturday at Grand Targhee.

“We’ve been freezing our asses off the last few days,” the Widespread Panic singer and guitarist said. Then, he smiled at the wide-eyed fans ready to dance before the stage. “Warm people!” he said in his trademark growl.

Rather, it was the hot music that kept fans moving throughout a marathon three-night run at the Alta, Wyo., resort. No matter how worn out everyone was from the revelry and 8,000-foot elevation, time after time the Southern rockers picked up the crowd with simmering grooves.

Whether it was the funk throwdown of “Arleen” from the last set Saturday, the cover of “No Sugar Tonight” to close Friday or a blistering “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” on July 4, Widespread brought the heat. A few pre-show rain showers — cool weather by Wyoming standards but perhaps freezing to Athens, Ga., musicians — failed to put a chill on the festivities.

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