Their sound is, by turns, “freewheeling,” “warm,” “summery” and “gritty.”
That is, if you believe the “Artist’s Moods” chart on website AllMusic.com, which attempts to sum up a band’s musical inclinations in a few choice words.
And while all that may be true of Shinyribs, one of the final two musical acts of the summer season at the Ridgway Concert Series Thursday night, it doesn’t begin to convey a deeper truth.
Shinyribs, founded by Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell (who cofounded the Gourds), is based in Austin, Texas.
Furthermore, Russell’s own musical career “began in earnest,” critic Erik Hage has written, when his family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where “he launched his own path with the Picket Line Coyotes, a group that would foster the seeds of the Gourds, after relocation (to both Dallas and Austin) and resolution.”
Artists ping back and forth between locales, and their musical influences add up. Who they perform with figures in, too. Consider the Ridgway Concert Series’ opener, singer-songwriter Amy Helm, whose father is the late, legendary Band member, Leon Helm.
He grew up in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas.
She has what AllMusic dubs a “rich musical pedigree,” having “soaked up her father’s tastes in vintage blues and gospel” (beginning with The Band’s legendary album, “Music From Big Pink”). Helm was a member of the folk group Olabelle, which accompanied Allison Krauss on her Great High Mountain Tour. Then she took all those musical influences, and in order to “meet” the 10 tunes she recorded on her sophomore solo effort, “This Too Shall Light,” “directly,” in the words of writer Thom Jurek, she flew to LA and recorded the songs with the great producer Joe Henry in just four days. She didn’t play the songs live beforehand, or even rehearsed them.
The album, Jurek wrote, “illustrates the diversity and power of Helm’s abundant talent.”
Brian Eyster, vice president of communications for Planet Bluegrass (which produces the Telluride Bluegrass Festival), is unsurprised that Ridgway should repeatedly attract artists of the caliber of Shinyribs and Helm.
“Colorado is kind of the promised land, from a musician’s perspective,” he said. “I hear it from musicians from all over the country. Audiences here are tuned in, right from the very first note, and not reserved. As a musician, you want to feel the energy and Colorado’s audiences express their love for the music. You don’t find that just anywhere.”
Audiences have another treat in store in Ridgway Monday, when Tennessee folk artists The Black Lilies perform at the Sherbino Theater.
The group has a huge following locally.
“I rarely reach out to bands,” said Tricia Oakland, program director at Weehawken Creative Arts and the Sherbino Theater. “Most bands I book reach out to me; 90 percent of them come from their agents reaching out.” (You see what Eyster means about musicians loving to play Colorado). “People here have been kind of blown away by the Black Lilies,” Oakland said. For that matter, local audiences have also been beguiled by Suitcase Junket, who returns to the Sherbino next Friday in support of a new album, “Mean Dog Trampoline,” produced by studio whiz Steve Berlin, known for his work with Los Lobos (he was a member of that band), Faith No More and Dave Alvin.
“We’ve been in talks to bring Suitcase Junket back for some time,” Oakland said, and it finally worked out for next weekend.
“I think the variety that we’ve been seeing this summer at the Mountain Air Music Series (in Ouray) and the Ridgway Concert Series has helped open the doors for us,” she added. “There have been global and funk acts, and American country and bluegrass groups are becoming more diverse. There seems to be a shift in what we’re booking. It opens up a lot of opportunity,” for both people like Oakland and, especially, for the audiences who savor the music.
The Ridgway Concert Series, with Amy Helm and Shinyribs, is at Hartwell Park Thursday at 6 p.m. The Black Lilies play the Sherbino Theater in Ridgway Monday and Suitcase Junket follows on Aug. 2. For more information, visit sherbino.org.