Steamboat Springs to host Dirty Dozen Brass Band on Saturday |

Steamboat Springs to host Dirty Dozen Brass Band on Saturday

Luke Graham

Dirty Dozen Brass Band's blend of funk, second line and jazz music is referred to by saxophonist Roger Lewis as "a musical gumbo." The group plays at 2 p.m. Saturday in Gondola Square.

— In 60 plus years of wailing on the sax, Roger Lewis' first connection is never with the audience. When he hits that solo, he's jamming, he's improvising, and he's finding something within himself.

"When I play music, I try to make a connection to a power in myself," Lewis said Wednesday from his New Orleans home.

Next is the audience.

"It's a spiritual connection,” Lewis said. “It's a power so great, I want it to transform to my listening audience. I'm trying to make a connection. Whatever comes out, that's what it is."

He's been doing something right.

Lewis and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band open the 2012-13 Bud Light Rocks the Boat free concert series Saturday in Gondola Square. The concert begins at 2 p.m.

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The group, which features five of the founding members including Lewis, has introduced people to New Orleans music through funk, jazz, pop and rock — past and present. He's a historian on New Orleans music while making funky music for a new generation.

"It's going to be a party," Lewis said. "It's going to be one big, musical gumbo."

In an age of instant information and gratification, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band hasn't just stood the test of time, it has developed a deep following through 35 years on the road. The seven-piece band once opened for Miles Davis and has collaborated with the likes of Modest Mouse, Widespread Panic, Dave Mathews, Chuck D, Elvis Costello and G. Love, just to name a few.

"The list goes on and on and on," Lewis said. "I'd be here all day trying to figure out the people we've played with."

At a time when most bands have short shelf lives, the Dirty Dozen still is together, creating new music. To celebrate, the band is releasing "Twenty Dozen," its first studio release in six years. On Wednesday, Lewis said he wouldn't have known it was the band’s 35th year together if people hadn’t continued to bring it up.

The success, he said, is in the variety of music. "From breakdancing to funeral music," Lewis said.

Lewis said the band still enjoys touring. It just returned from shows in London, Ireland, Finland and Sweden. While the band's heart is in New Orleans, part of its soul is in Colorado. Lewis said the band's biggest fan base is in Colorado, and he enjoys playing here because the "air is clean and fresh."

When the band hits the stage Saturday, Lewis said to expect to have fun, expect to dance and expect a little journey through New Orleans.

"People will be baptized in good music. They'll get loose like it ain't no use," he said. "Come shake it. Let's have a good time and have a good party. That's why we're here on this visit."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email