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Taken from WhistlerQuestion (March 7, 2008)

Franti returns to headline all-star TWSSF lineup

Butler Trio, Trews and Marley also to play

by jennifer miller

Michael FrantiOne of the best things about April in Whistler is the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival (TWSSF) and one of the best things about the festival is the series of free, outdoor concerts it brings to town. For 10 glorious afternoons, music fans can get a live fix of some of today’s biggest and most influential artists without spending a penny.

“It’s so rare that you can go and see relatively big-name artists perform for free,” said Mike Stroh, the festival’s music coordinator. The festival offers the biggest free outdoor concert series in North America, and the priceless lineup for the 2008 festival is shaping up to be a mix of reggae and rock with a sprinkling of hip-hop thrown in for good measure.

“We’re looking to have another exciting lineup,” Stroh said.

Making a triumphant return to the festival after treating a huge crowd to a marathon set in 2006 are Michael Franti and Spearhead, who will cap the entire festival on its closing day, April 20. Stroh said Franti and Spearhead are festival favourites and will be making their third appearance on the outdoor stage next month.

“There were tons of people out there partying,” Stroh said of Franti’s 2006 festival performance. “It was a time for everybody to let loose at the end of the festival. I think he played for almost three hours.”

Known for a unique brand of “thinking man’s hip-hop,” Franti offers uplifting, danceable music about life, love and connecting to people. His latest album, Yell Fire!, was inspired by a trip to war-torn areas in Iraq and Israel, but Franti doesn’t write songs about war. Stroh said Franti and Spearhead are pretty selective about where they play, but Whistler is usually one of their only stops in Canada. “Especially if the weather’s nice it’ll be a perfect end for the festival,” Stroh said.

Representing Whistler’s Aussie contingent at the festival is Australia’s John Butler Trio, known for its roots-rock grooves and political messages. With songs about everything from love and peace to consumerism and the Bush administration’s lack of action after Hurricane Katrina, the John Butler Trio is sure to have festival-goers dancing and thinking at the same time.

Also confirmed for the free concert lineup are Nova Scotia rockers The Trews, showcasing a new album frontman Colin MacDonald describes as the heaviest but most artistically coherent Trews album yet. The Canadian contingent is strong at the 2008 festival with punk band illScarlett, one of this year’s Juno nominees for Best New Band, and Vancouver favourite Daniel Wesley with his laidback surf rock.

A fun-loving celebration like the TWSSF wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Bob Marley, so organizers have secured one of the reggae legend’s sons, Julian Marley, for his first and only North American show. Julian is expected to play a mix of his own songs and his father’s classic hits at the show.

Stroh said music fans can look forward to a few more big-name acts yet to be confirmed for the outdoor concert series lineup.

Another festival highlight is the Kokanee Freeride Club Series, a special roster of free shows in Whistler’s intimate club venues. Acts such as The Trews, illScarlett and Daniel Wesley will take the party indoors, offering fans two free shows from which to choose.

The TWSSF outdoor concert series runs daily from 3 p.m. April 11 to 20 in Skiers Plaza. Stay tuned to www.whistler.mtv.ca for the full schedule of free outdoor and Freeride shows coming up during the festival.


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