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Big Head Todd and the Monsters play Breckenridge Saturday

Erica MarciniecSpecial to the Daily
Special to the Daily Big Head Todd & the Monsters
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Big Head Todd and the Monsters headline the Stage 5 finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge with a free Riverwalk Center show at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.The veteran Colorado band is currently on a whirlwind tour around the United States, their “ambitious routing” requiring “crazy fly/drive trip(s)” and venues as “breathtaking” as Squaw Valley, Calif., where they played facing the mountain under the gondola next to a July pond skimming contest, and as hot and buggy as a recent August show in Minnesota, according to their blog. The band is currently on tour with John Hiatt. Not only is Big Head Todd and the Monsters returning home to Colorado (minus Hiatt) for Saturday’s Riverwalk performance, but they are also playing a free show courtesy of the Town of Breckenridge, “one of many local organizing committee efforts to bolster the Breckenridge finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge,” said Breckenridge Resort Chamber spokesperson Rachel Zerowin. To put in perspective, tickets to the band’s last Red Rocks show cost $40 to $60.The band consists of guitarist and frontman Todd Park Mohr, bassist Rob Squires, drummer Brian Nevin and Jeremy Lawton on keyboards and steel guitars. The original trio is Mohr, Squires and Nevin, all three of whom attended Columbine High School and later the University of Colorado, founding the band in 1986 while in college. They built a strong Colorado fan base by touring constantly, issuing two popular independent releases before hooking up with Giant Records for the platinum album “Sister Sweetly” in 1993. The Monsters issued four chart albums on Giant and Warner Bros. They are known for their engaging live performances, one of which is recorded on a live album from the H.O.R.D.E. tour. They have since ventured out with their own imprint, Big Records, an arrangement that finds them “forging into surprising musical territory.” One such foray is the Big Head Blues Club, a collective made up of Big Head Todd and the Monsters with special guests B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Honeyboy Edwards and other blues greats. In 2011 they released the tribute album, “100 Years of Robert Johnson,” to coincide with what would have been the 1930s era blues legend’s 100th birthday. In 2010 they released their ninth studio album, “Rocksteady,” described by Mohr as “a soul/Caribbean record that rocks.” The album was produced by Jeremy Lawton, who joined the band in 2004. Although The Monsters have worked with well-known producers including David Bianco, Jerry Harrison and David Z, “Rocksteady” signified a return to their do-it-yourself roots, since they essentially worked on it on their own in Lawton’s home studio, where, after recording more than 30 songs, they decided to turn them into two albums starting with “Rocksteady.”

“Big Head Todd albums are always like a buffet – there’s always a rocker, and then there are a couple of mood songs and then there are some R&B/soul songs,” Lawton said, explaining that in the studio, “we were noticing we had these two different directions in songs. We said, ‘Let’s try to concentrate on one of the branches of the tree.’ We went towards this fun, happy R&B kind of sound.” “Being able to decide in the middle of something that you have two albums instead of one isn’t something you normally can do in a producer scenario,” Mohr said. “There is just too much pressure and not enough time. For me it’s all about being able to have the time and the resources to do things your way, and the right way. It’s only when you do it yourself that you have that luxury.”Concert-goers can expect a buffet of old and new songs Saturday, including pieces from “100 Years of Robert Johnson” and “Rocksteady” as well as the band’s “constantly evolving musical library of influences, songs and experiences.” To preview these and other albums, go to http://www.bigheadtodd.com. The blues-inclined can also visit Mohr’s personal blog, The Daily Blues (tpmvault.blogspot.com), where he writes and posts an original blues song about the day’s news on a regular basis. “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” recently showcased an interesting band fact: Among the many audiences treated to a live Big Head Todd and the Monsters show were the orbiting astronauts of the last space shuttle mission. Although it has been a tradition for mission control to wake up the astronauts with a different song each day, it was the first-ever wake up call performed live from mission control. Part of what makes a Big Head Todd and the Monsters live show so good is the band’s realization that “the quality of the relationship between the band and the fan is the most important aspect of our career,” said Mohr. “That’s why we do cruises with fans, and we sign autographs after shows. We still try to play every request. We listen to our audience and do whatever we can to acknowledge that relationship.”


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