Friday, January 29, 2010

SIA Snow Show!

photo by EA

SIA's Snow Show is here! After years in Vegas, the trade show where stores and resorts place orders for next year's ski and snowboard gear has moved to Denver for the next 11 years. That makes Denver tourism, hotel and restaurant folks happy, but lots of vendors are disappointed that they no longer have an all-night party right outside their door any more. The Snow Show IS a lot closer to the slopes, and attendees are getting breaks on lift tickets to any Colorado resort. Of course, that prompted one dude at the show to say, "All I keep thinking is why am I not there? Why am I here? I'd rather be skiing!"

Denver is doing its part to keep people happy with an apres ski that pretty much takes up all of the downtown core. Colorado resorts have teamed with bars to offer drink specials and give away swag and lift tickets. Stop by the Rialto Cafe, Rio Grande (Echo is giving out stuff), Appaloosa Grill (Telluride deals), Tilted Kilt, Wynkoop, among lots of others.

Inside the Snow Show, Burton tried to bring Vegas to Denver. Their booth at SIA was turned into a casino floor, complete with fake Elvis, sales reps dressed as card dealers, the whole nine yards.

Smokin' Boards brought out Buck Ferton. (If you're nice they'll share their beer with you.) The Skullcandy girls are giving away Skullcandy necklaces and bandanas, Volcom is handing out T-shirts.

photo by EA

On-snow demos at Winter Park for SIA attendees, Feb. 1-2.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Matt Morris :: album debut

Matt Morris got a taste of show biz as a kid when he tried out in a Denver-area audition for a new version of the Mickey Mouse Club. There were about 800 kids who showed up, and by the end of the day there were just eight. And after singing "Wind Beneath My Wings," (a song his dad Gary Morris had recorded as a country musician) Morris was among those left. He ended up being on the show with the likes of Keri Russell, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

Today, Morris' album "When Everything Breaks Open" is debuting on Timberlake's record label, Tennman Records. He and his band will be on "The Late Show with David Letterman" on Friday, the CBS morning show the next day and then on Ellen on Tuesday.

Morris had kept in touch with his MMC co-stars as their careers went "astronomical," and he has written with Aguilera and Timberlake before. About five years ago, Timberlake mentioned he wanted to start a record label and sign Morris to it.

"Sure, thank you!" Morris remembers thinking. "It was a really generous thing."

Til then, Morris had been going the indie route. Unlike his co-stars, Morris took a break from show biz after MMC to be a regular teen, go to high school, sing in high school musicals. Rather than pursue a big contract, he spent time between his junior and senior year volunteering in Paraguay. "It's sort of the opposite of celebrity life. It's not about the glorification of you. It's about the betterment of others," he said. You might have seen him playing in coffee shops or The Walnut Room.

He planned to go to CU Boulder _ it was the only place he applied _ until he got a look at a syllabus and realized there wasn't much he wanted to do. On a whim, he applied to Belmont in Nashville and got in and called home to say he was moving. He says that's where he went through great change musically.

"When Everything Breaks Open" (produced by guitar great Charlie Sexton and Timberlake) has a breadth of styles, but we think Morris is at his best on the quieter arrangements where you can focus on his trembling vibrato, insightful lyrics and smooth voice.

Tennman head Ken Komisar says Morris came to the table with songs, then he, Timberlake, Sexton and others would work musically together to flesh them out. Here's a rundown of some of the songs on the album:

1. Don't You Dare :: Can't believe this is the first song on the album. Sounds overproduced, but if you like Maroon 5, maybe you'd still like this. The songs get better from here.
2. Money :: This should've been the first song, but maybe they didn't want to make people think too much of Timberlake on Morris' album right away. The song opens with sax, trumpet and trombone alone, to voices, then acoustic guitar. Timberlake does background vocals. It's a rhythmic groove, smart lyrics, not a lot of distractions
3. Love :: Some reggae influences here. Written shortly after Morris met his now-husband. Morris plays guitar and piano on this. Edie Brickell sings backing vocals
4. Bloodline :: A beautiful storytelling piece with strings and Patty Griffin doing background vocals
5. Live Forever :: Produced by Timberlake. Nice anthem
6. The Un-American :: If it were a drawing, it'd be a political cartoon
7. Let It Go :: A pleading ballad, just Morris and the piano. The strings envelope him later. He has such a full tone in the upper notes. Beautiful.
8. You Do It For Me :: Funk to spare. Plugged-in block party song
9. Just Before the Morning :: Inspired / reworked from an ambient song guitarist Dave Preston (now in Morris' band) recorded into a song with separate melody and lyrics.
10. In This House :: Thoughts about materialism and what really matters
11. Forgiveness :: Timberlake adds vocals again. The drums, guitars, loops add a lot of musical layers. Not a religious song per se, but more spiritual tones in the lyrics
12. Someone to Love You :: The album finishes with heavier fare.
13. Eternity :: This one tells a story, takes you on a journey.
**Bonus: 100,000 Strong

And that's it. Kind of makes you wonder what's next in the Matt Morris story, doesn't it?

Morris played recently in Boulder to open for the Flobots. As for Denver bands, Morris is digging Houses and Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.

He's playing in NYC tonight. More touring to come.