South Austin Jug Band plays free concert today |

South Austin Jug Band plays free concert today

— The South Austin Jug Band returns to Steamboat Springs with upbeat picking and fiddling, a quirky sense of humor and a cool acoustic sound reminiscent of bluegrass, beatnik and swing for a free concert at 5:30 p.m. today on Howelsen Hill.

It’s a great chance to celebrate the dwindling days of summer and kick up your heels for a dance or two, especially because the South Austin Jug Band is counting on this crowd for it.

“People don’t dance down here,” upright bass player Will Dupuy said from the band’s home base in Austin, Texas.

He said it’s more fun for the band to play for crowds in Colorado where people aren’t afraid to get up and enjoy the flow of the music. “You people up there kind of create your own dance kind of thing. It’s great.”

Such atmosphere keeps the band going, Dupuy said. When the group played in Steamboat last winter members jammed for three hours at an afternoon venue and then moved over to play for another four-hour show the same evening, he said.

“If it’s in the right vibe, it just keeps itself going,” Dupuy said.

Dupuy was excited when he found out the band would be playing outside, beneath Howelsen Hill’s historic ski jumps.

“Right on!” he said. “Every time we’re playing in Steamboat, we’re just loving it.”

South Austin Jug Band has been writing a lot of new songs, some of which audiences might hear during the show today, Dupuy said. The band plans to release a new CD next year.

“We’re kind of progressing into any kind of roots music we see fit, maybe some more blues,” Dupuy said.

But he said the South Austin Jug Band (which isn’t really a jug band but got its name from the Muppets movie called “Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas”) is not veering too far from its eclectic mix of traditional tunes, foot-stomping instrumentals and musical takes on the likes of Jerry Garcia, Walter Hyatt and Jimi Hendrix. That’s the winning combination that earned the group the Best New Band Award at the 2002 Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

It includes the band’s ode to the mullet — a tongue-in-cheek hit that is an audience favorite.

South Austin Jug Band’s mullet theme started one day when guitarist James Hyland declared to his lounging band mates that “mullets are just so big, I need to write a song about it,” Dupuy said. “Cuttin’ the Mullet” is a jam that grew out of an opening for Hyland’s song “The Ballad of Eddie Mullet.”

Now the mullet song is so popular “it’s got like its own zip code or something,” Dupuy said.

South Austin Jug Band is comprised of Matt Slusher on the mandolin, Dupuy on the upright bass, Hyland and Willie Pipkin on the guitar and Dennis Ludiker on the fiddle.

Now in its 12th year, the Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series includes children’s activities, a petting zoo, local vendors selling food and drink and a bike corral.

No alcohol may be brought into the concert.

Attendees are requested to bring canned food donations for LIFT-UP Food Bank to the South Austin Jug Band concert.

Following up on appearances by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Sonia Dada earlier this summer, South Austin Jug Band is the third of six free summer concerts. The series continues Aug. 12 with Galactic at Howelsen Hill and finishes up on Headwall with Little Feat performing Sept. 4 and Delbert McClinton appearing Sept. 5.

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