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ALO follows its musical instincts

Kimberly Nicoletti

What: ALOWhen: Wednesday nightWhere: Sherpa & Yeti’s, BreckenridgeBRECKENRIDGE -ALO, otherwise known as Animal Liberation Orchestra, follows its instincts when it comes to music.The musicians dig up some down-and-dirty funk and follow the trail with the latest sound that catches their scent -anything from trance to reggae, bluegrass to booty-beat and psychedelic to soul.Three of the four players first formed a band in junior high, writing songs inspired by pop music. They studied music – and musical theater -at the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1993-97, and began the ongoing process of assimilating new music to their own style.It’s a wild style. During their shows, they transform from a band to a jammy vaudeville show, featuring special effects, comic skits and costumes.They used to wear animal costumes and crawl out from underneath tables onto the stage, but now they’re a little tamer – their latest shows have featured the act of turning various members into solid gold (can’t give that one away -you have to see it in person) and rekindling “cheesy” 1980s rock bands like Survivor and Duran Duran.”The shows are based on what everyone’s got going on at the time,” said keyboardist Zach Gill.Most of their ideas arise during long drives on tour. Their latest “stage production” involved Halloween costumes portraying Orphan Annie in various stages of development. But every decision involves a lot of discussion to arrive at a democratic solution.”We’re four distinct personalities, but we work as a group to see how the distinct personalities blend together,” Gill said. “They blend through long conversations, being flexible, courteous and kind.”We’ve been through so many times where the band could fall apart. But the band is like a family, more so than a lot of bands, just because we’ve been together so long. We’ve been together through all these pivotal times in our lives. It’s a deep connection. The biggest thing about our group is we really are a group. It’s a lot more give and take -everyone talks to the audience.”And each member’s distinct personality reflects in his playing.Steve Adam’s personality shows through in the soulful tones he evokes from his upright and electric basses. He interjects world folk sounds of the Americas and the Middle East into ALO’s fusion.Guitarist Dan Lebowitz is a musical technician, sweeping the gamut of his instrument’s range. Gill and drummer Dave Brogan experiment with sounds from metal to electronica and nearly everything in between.Though in theory ALO fits into the jam band scene, the musicians focus on songwriting and bringing listeners into the music -whether the music is funk, soul, jazz, Marachi or Mideastern music.”People say we’re like Steely Dan meets Paul Simon,” Gill said.And, speaking of big names, ALO has worked with James Brown, Carlos Washington’s Giant People and Hawaii’s latest sensation, Jack Johnson.ALO’s upcoming album, scheduled for release in the spring, features Johnson on “Girl,” a song he often does in live shows. The album is slower, smoother and rootsier than ALO’s last album, “Time Expander,” a high-energy dance album.ALO plays Wednesday night at Sherpa & Yeti’s in Breckenridge.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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